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Oak Lawn Woman Falls into Tinley Craigslist Scam, Loses $1,500

A 32-year-old Oak Lawn woman, who responded to an ad for a rental home on Craigslist, shares her story of being "bamboozled" and plans to be a lot more cautious in the future.

An Oak Lawn woman is $1,500 poorer after falling hook, line and sinker for a fake Craigslist ad that touted a cheap home for rent in Tinley.

"I'm devastated," said Jamie O'Leary, 32. "This has totally set me back. But I'm not going to cry about it or lose any more sleep. Stupid me. That's all I can say. Stupid me."

O'Leary responded May 29 to to the ad, which referenced an $800-per month three-bedroom, two-bathroom house at 8401 W. 167th St., according to a police report. She didn't think the rent was unheard of since her current rental home of the same size in Oak Lawn costs just $100 more each month.

"(She) received an e-mail back stating that the subject had moved out of the house with his family and needed to rent it because he was now in Nigeria working as a pastor with the U.S. Aid Mission," the report said.

On May 31, O'Leary went to the home and met a man—she said he was black and in his 30s—who showed her around. He told her his name was "Ronald Daly," coinciding with the e-mail address she'd been corresponding with of "rdaly37@yahoo.com." He was in town to "get final details at the home sorted out," O'Leary said.

"It was the same guy as the Realtor's picture in the ad, so I didn't really think anything of it," she said.

She decided to rent the home and the man said he'd get her a contract and the keys after she paid a $1,500 fee—$800 for first month's rent and $700 for a security deposit. He asked her to wire the money to Nigeria because that's where he was going to be, police said.

O'Leary did so between June 2 and June 15, she said. On June 18, she got a fake FedEx e-mail saying the house keys and other documents had been shipped. She never received a package and she has been unable to contact the man since June 15, she said. She called the cops this week to report that she'd been bamboozled.

The rental was listed under Orland Hills Coldwell Banker real estate agent, Ron Daly, according to the police report. Although Daly is, indeed, employed at the office, his attributes don't match up with the man O'Leary described, police said.

The scam artist used the agent's information, as well as that of a for-sale home, to set up the hoax, said Jeff Binkowski, office manager at the Coldwell Banker/Honig agency in Orland Hills. He said his office has been targeted in three similar scams.

"Every time, it's one of two things," he said. "Someone is either taking a property that's listed as for sale and putting an ad on CraigsList that says it's for rent at a greatly reduced rate … Or, there's a property for rent for say, $1,900 and they put an ad up saying it's $1,200."

In O'Leary's case, the home was for sale. 

"As far as what we've been told, a scam artist—usually a couple—sets up an appointment with a real estate agent," Binkowski said. "While they're there, they leave a window or a door open. That way, they can get back into the home and show it as if they're an agent."

The primary challenge for Binkowski is that in terms of Craigslist scams, his hands are somewhat tied.

"We try to chase these things down as best we can," he said. "But we can never get a hold of anyone at Craigslist to remove these ads. There are miles and miles of red tape."

As for O'Leary, she's avoiding the site in the future.

"I don't know exactly what I'm going to do," she said. "Be a lot more cautious, that's for sure."

Sandra Bury July 01, 2011 at 11:41 AM
I am always amazed at the criminal mind. If these folks worked that hard at an honest living, they'd be very successful in life. One has to think they just enjoy being so evil. Why work so hard to be so nasty to your fellow man? Why not work that hard to make the world a better place?
CJM July 01, 2011 at 01:20 PM
I feel bad for this woman, but I thought it was almost universal knowledge that anything involving Nigeria and/or wiring money was a scam.
oswegoannie July 02, 2011 at 12:58 AM
Ridiculous that this woman fell for this scam - there were red flags everywhere. She should have called the realtor DIRECTLY from the phone number on the for sale sign. (I know - someone in Oswego tried this same exact scam with me!) And it is impossible to get craigslist to remove ads. There is a woman in Oswego who has been advertising $900 and $925 per month houses for over 2 years. She asks a LOT of questions, then never shows up to show the homes and she won't give out the addresses, either. craigslist does nothing about it.
Craig Smith July 02, 2011 at 09:19 AM
there are tons of Craigslist scams. Apparently, Apple released an iPhone app a few days ago called Scam Detector. According to them, it exposes over 350 of the most notorious scams in the world. It might be worth checking it out, if you have an iPhone...I don't have one yet, but I would like to know more about it.
Deb Melchert July 02, 2011 at 02:03 PM
Craigslist is like a Jeckyll & Hyde that you can love and hate at the same time. While we use it frequently to sell a lot of stuff, I know my email will be inundated with bogus links and offers. Embarrassed, but honest enough to admit I send them a standard reply telling them to remove me from their mailing list, but in a very nasty way. 99% of the garbage comes from hotmail and gmail and good luck trying to complain to them.
Jacob Matthews March 11, 2014 at 08:08 PM
Sandra Bury.....I applaud your comment......the fact is, people work hard at being nasty because websites such as this one encourage it. Perhaps you should continue to observe the vigalante action and verbal attacks that the police department in the village you are mayor of allow to continue not only without interruption but with complete disregard for public safety.

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