The three-bedroom home on Lexington Court in Largo, Fla., 20 miles north of St. Petersburg, looked like the perfect family home, with a nice front yard, central cooling and laminate floors. For 18 families, it turned it was too good to be true — and at a serious cost.
A married couple, Nicole and David Johnson, allegedly posed as the owners of the rental property, giving tours and collecting more than $25,000 from those families, local television news station WFTS reported in late June.
The home, it turned out, belonged to Nicole Johnson’s parents and was not available for rent. The Johnsons targeted the families using social media and by posting to Craigslist. Local police have called it the largest rental scam they’ve ever seen. Many of the victims only realized that the listing was a fraud when they showed up to the property on the same day and notified police.
Some of those families were moving to Florida from out of state, and many have had to resort to GoFundMecampaigns in an effort to recoup their losses, according to WFTS. The scammers are believed to have fled the state.