Mukilteo police investigate online rental scam after man loses $2,400

MUKILTEO — It appears a Mukilteo man has fallen victim to an online scam, paying to lease a home that apparently wasn’t available to rent.

The man’s lease to his current apartment expires at the end of April and he was looking for a new place, Mukilteo police officer Colt Davis said.

He replied to a Craigslist ad for a house rental.

What followed was an exchange of emails and an online application to rent a duplex unit in Everett.

The man, 24, was told he could view the place from the outside, which he did. The purported landlord told him he could not let him into the Everett home because he was in California. However, he provided photos of the inside online.

The man Thursday reportedly paid $2,400 into an out-of-state account.

He became suspicious when he learned that relatives also had been in contact with someone apparently posing as the property owner for the same unit. He contacted Mukilteo police Friday and an officer went out to meet with him.

Detectives are investigating.

“It is still very fresh and new to us,” Davis said.

Retailers across the country have reported scams similar to the circumstances involving the Mukilteo man.

Typically, someone will steal a real estate listing or post one similar to ones that legitimate businesses place on line, including photos, square footage and other details. The Mukilteo man even was asked for references.

“All contact between the victim and suspect was done on email,” Davis said.

Mukilteo, like many other communities in Snohomish County, has seen its share of scams, including people posing as IRS agents or law enforcement officers threatening to make an arrest if fictional debts aren’t immediately paid off.

“These scams are always changing,” Davis said.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; stevick@heraldnet.com.

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