One of those unsuspecting renters was Valerie Thorpe. Recently divorced, with three kids, Valerie was looking for a fresh start. She thought she found that fresh start when she saw a Craigslist ad of a Raleigh home for rent.

“I was looking for a place to stay because my current landlord is selling the place,” Valerie said.

Valerie contacted the person who claimed to be the owner.

“He said when you get to the property, give me a call and I will give you the code to get into the lockbox,” she said.

Valerie and her youngest son went to the house and there was a lockbox on the front door. While on the phone with the supposed owner, Valerie says he gave her the code to the lockbox. Valerie says the lockbox opened, and she got the key to check out the home.Valerie watched her son’s eyes light up as he walked into what he thought was his new home.

“The house is perfect, what do I need to do? He says I’m going to email you an application,” Valerie said.

Valerie says the supposed owner even contacted her landlord to get a reference. She thought she was about to get her dream home so she paid all that she had to secure the house. Valerie wired the first month rent and a security deposit of $1,700 to Darelle T. Williams, who claimed to be the owner. The next day, she went to the house to get the keys, but noticed something was wrong.

“We come and no one was here,” she said.

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