Online scam hits Suncoast man

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SARASOTA--A Suncoast man says he was the victim of an online scam, and now he's warning others to be on the lookout.

"we found an ad on Craigslist for a nice house, within our price range," said the man, who asked not to be identified.

However the seemingly perfect house came with a hefty price, one much larger than the six hundred dollar deposit the man gave to whom he thought was the house's owner.

"He gave me the keys, when I asked for a receipt, he said he had to go around the corner to get a receipt book and that's when we were sitting there waiting for half hour, forty five minutes," said the victim, "he took off with our six hundred, and we never saw him again."

At that point, it didn't take long for the man to realize he'd been the victim of a home rental scam.

"I work hard for my money, and to have it taken away like that, I was furious," said the man.

The victim believes the suspect broke into the house, changed all the locks, then posted the ad on Craigslist.

"He knew the house, he knew where everything was, about the security system, he had the right answers for everything," said the man.

"This type of scam is very common," said property manager Tanya Izzo, "it's mostly common through Craigslist."

Izzo says there are simple steps to avoid this type of crime happening to you. First, do your own research, like checking property records to verify who the owner is.

If you decide to deal directly with an individual and not a management company, don't be afraid to ask for lots of documentation.

"Ask for proof, make them show you more proof of who they truly say they are," said Izzo.

The victim described the suspect as a black male with gold dental work wearing a hat with a kangaroo logo on it. If you have any information, you're urged to call the Sarasota Police Department.