Renters duped out of $1600 by woman they met at bible study

Thief uses bible study, Craigslist to scam victims

While Sabrina Moreno is not a churchgoer, her husband is.

Earlier this month he attended an open bible study.

During the prayer portion, "he stepped up and said we were in need of a home," said Moreno.

A woman whom he had never seen at bible study until that night approached him afterwards.

"She said 'I know of a home and he said 'Can I get the number?' And she said 'I'm the landlord' so they exchanged phone numbers," said Moreno.

Moreno said the next day, the woman---who calls herself "Pearl"---showed Moreno's husband a home on Kentucky street.

He handed her $1600 cash for the first and last months rent.

Moreno said "Pearl" promised to deliver the key and receipt the following day.

"He figured she was part of the bible group. That [he] can trust her," said Moreno.
 
But "Pearl" never showed up and has not returned any phone calls or text messages.

"She basically saw him as an easy target," said Moreno.

A few days later, Moreno went to the house herself.

"I look at the house and the original landlord is here. I introduce myself as the tenant and he was blown by this whole ordeal. The landlord said he's never heard of this girl named "Pearl"," said Moreno.

23ABC spoke to the landlord who only wanted to be identified as Thomas.

He believes thieves are using Craigslist to scam victims and used his ad as bait.

"I put up an ad on craigslist and I believe they looked on Craigslist and said 'Ah, here's a house for rent' and that's the address they gave [to victims]," said Thomas.

"I want to catch this girl. I'm angry. Very angry because it's not right what she's doing. You have families out here who need homes. And they have kids around the holidays. They could have spent that money on their kids Christmas gifts," said Moreno.

The real landlord of that home says he is the only one renting it out and is not using anyone else to show the house.

Meanwhile law enforcement recommends renters go through a reputable rental management company when looking for a home and never pay with cash.

Use a check or money order and make sure you get a receipt.

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