PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - Boca Raton police say a man was using Craigslist to scam people into signing fake leases and giving security deposits.
Detectives say they began their investigation after receiving calls from people who claimed they had agreed to rent a house and provided a security deposit, only to be told the house was no longer available.
"I felt cheated and lied to. It was horrible because I lost $1,000 of money that was hard for me to earn," Johanna Fonseca said.
Fonseca is a pre-med student at FAU and was trying to rent the home with her classmates.
The investigation revealed that Daniel Fournier was renting a room from an 81-year-old resident on West Camino Real.
Police say while living in the house, Fournier listed the residence as available for rent on Craigslist.
Over a two month period, Fournier entered into fictitious rental agreements, including security deposits, with four different people, investigators say.
Detectives say he told the renters that the owner of the house was his aunt and that the home would not be available until his aunt was placed into assisted living.
According to police reports, Fournier also had the 81-year-old owner of the home unknowingly sign the fictitious lease agreements.
"He is a horrible person. Why would you do that especially to college students? I am working hard studying all day and at work. It is hard. He basically just stole a month's work. He is a horrible human being," Fonseca said.
Police urge people to use caution using Craigslist and suggest they use certified real estate agents.
"Never pay your security deposit in cash or a money order. Money orders are just like cash. Use a cashier's check from a bank because if you use your personal check they have your bank account number," Boca Police Spokesman Mark Economou said.
Fournier was charged with four counts of Organized Scheme to Defraud/Grand Theft. If anyone has additional information, please contact Detective Jeffrey Simons at 561-338-1255