Durham police warn public about Craigslist rental scam; man charged
Posted April 29
Durham, N.C. — Durham police issued a warning to the public about online scams Friday after arresting a man who posed as a woman in a Craigslist post about a room for rent.
A woman told authorities she responded on April 21 to a Craigslist ad for a room to rent in a three-bedroom home in Durham. The woman said she believed she was corresponding with another woman in her age range who needed a female roommate. When the woman moved into the home, police said she discovered that the ad had been placed by William Oliver King Jr., who lives in the home and had been impersonating a younger woman online.
King, 52, of Arnette Avenue, was charged Sunday with obtaining property by false pretense.
Anyone who believes they have been the victim of a similar scam should call the Durham Police Department at 919-560-4440, ext. 29350.
The police department's Fraud Unit offered the following tips for residents:
- Do not rent or purchase a room or home sight unseen. That amazing "deal" may not exist.
- Be careful about sharing personal information, including photos, relationship status or any information relating to your personal life. The person you just met online is not your best friend.
- Take your time. Some scammers will try to rush you into making a decision, claiming that you might lose out on a “wonderful opportunity.”
- Never wire funds. Anyone who asks you to is likely a scammer.
- If someone asks you to use a prepaid credit card, it is most likely a scam.
- If you must meet with someone, do so in a public setting and do so during normal business hours. Avoid bars or anything that entails alcohol. If possible, avoid going alone.
- Do not extend payment to anyone you have not met in person.
- Never give out financial info (bank account, Social Security number, PayPal account, etc.).
- Refuse background/credit checks until you have met a prospective landlord or employer in person.
- Remember that people can hide their identities online. You never really know who you are talking to.