Local Man Arrested In Craigslist Scam - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Local Man Arrested In Craigslist Scam

Spokane County Sheriff's Department Press Release:

SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash. - On February 1, 2012, Spokane Valley Property Crimes Detectives arrested 35 yr. old Eric Pittsley of Newman Lake, WA.  The investigation started when several victims called in to report being "scammed" by Pittsley.  During the investigation, numerous other victims reported similar instances of being swindled out of money by Pittsley.  To date, there have been at least seventeen different victims.

Some of the reports were from victims who would meet Pittsley and were told he was an auto repo man who could get various makes and models of vehicles.  He would offer a vehicle for sale at an unbelievably low price.  The victim would pay Pittsley a deposit for the vehicle and an agreement was made for delivery.  Delivery would never happen and the victim(s) would be out approximately $500.

Numerous other victims were scammed when they responded to a Craigslist ad that Pittsley had posted regarding homes for rent or homes he was offering on a Rent-to-Own program.  Pittsley did not own any of the homes he would advertise for rent.  There were times when he would contact a victim directly from a Craigslist ad they themselves had posted whereby they were seeking a place to rent.

Pittsley would tell the victims he was a property manager who had several homes they could look at in different neighborhoods throughout Spokane County.  He would give addresses of homes that were being lived in and some of the homes were in various stages of foreclosure.  He would tell the victims not to "bother" the existing tenants and to call him back once they looked at the homes if they were interested.  When they called him back, he would tell them he is waiting for the existing tenants to move out.  He would meet them at various locations such as hotels or coffee shops to get the victims to complete an application he had printed out and collect a small application fee.

Pittsley would later call them back and advise them they have been approved to move-in and that he needed to meet with them again to get the 1st month's rent and a security deposit.  Sometimes he would ask for additional months of rent be paid up front and would sweeten the deal by telling them, if they paid for several months in advance, they could get one month free.  Many of the victims paid him in cash or money orders and often would get a signed lease agreement and a house key.  The key they received would later be determined to be an incorrect key.  Other times victims would pay fees to hold the residence until the 1st of the month and after hearing excuse after excuse, would never get keys to move-in.

The Spokane County Sheriff's Office in partnership with the Spokane Valley Police Department would like to use these unfortunate events to remind everyone that they need to be aware of scams and to be cautious of people who place free ads on the internet.  While the internet is a great tool for the community to find excellent opportunities and for businesses to reach out, when it comes to your money changing hands, the proper paperwork should accompany the transaction or agreements entered into.  When paying in cash always ask for receipts.  If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  Check around if you're unsure.  Ask for references or ask others who have experience in the type of dealings you're pursuing.   

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