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N4T Investigators: Residence Evil - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

N4T Investigators: Residence Evil

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Tucson – Ann Marie Bonito was intrigued.

While looking for a house to rent, Bonito saw a 2256 square foot home in the Foothills advertised on Craigslist for only $900 a month, including utilities. 

“I thought this house was beautiful, maybe this person needs a house sitter and somebody to rent the home as well, so I thought I'd at least ask,” Bonito told the News 4 Tucson Investigators.

Bonito thought the deal was too good to be true, but to be sure, she exchanged emails with the woman claiming to be the homeowner.

“The rental rate was too low for the area, and some of the questions and the wording in the emails that went back and forth, kind of surprised me.”

The supposed owner told Bonito she couldn't show her the home because she's out of town, but said Ann Marie could "peek through the windows." 

Bonito said, “I really wanted to see the house, I didn't want to go peek in the windows. And the fact that there was a for sale sign, and I was going to be peeking in the windows, you know that just kind of made me very suspicious.”

The advertiser wrote in one email to Ann Marie, “Please ignore the for sale sign in the yard,” saying the home was no longer for sale, only for rent or rent-to-own.

Bonito said, “That was a red flag.”  No kidding. 

She did online research and found the home was for sale, by someone else. The person who posted the ad on Craigslist had nothing to do with the house. Ann Marie found the real owner and told the Craigslist advertiser she was on to her. She says, "“Scammers frighten me because it's almost as if they have no conscience. I don't want to waste anger on it, but it's frustrating. You know, the audacity.”

Susann Miller of the Better Business Bureau of Southern Arizona says when shopping for a home online, do research, and be wary.

“If it's something that is a regular ad but doesn't have any realtor information on it, maybe just do a Google search and look at the property. No matter what the product is that you're purchasing, you need to see it firsthand,” Miller says.

The BBB also advises:

-Don't wire money or pay using a prepaid debit card.
-Watch out for deals that sound too good to be true.
- Make sure to see the property in person, especially inside, before signing any contract or providing a deposit. 

  Ann Marie Bonito's final email to the Craigslist advertiser included this message:

 “Shame on you, shame on you,” Bonito wrote. “And I hope your mother doesn't know you're doing this.”

The Craigslist advertiser did not respond to Ann Marie's email that called her out. And when we emailed her, we got a message saying “There was a problem” with her email address. No surprise. Apparently, she changed it when she realized Ann Marie was on to her. 
If you have a story you'd like us to investigate email us at investigators@kvoa.com or call our tip line at 520-955-4444.

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