Otterbein student scammed while on deadline to find an apartment in Columbus


An Otterbein University student was looking for an apartment in Columbus for his upcoming internships. Lucas, who preferred his last name to not mentioned, had to find an apartment quick and turned to Craigslist after not having luck on other sites.

He said he found a reasonably-priced house on Fairview Avenue for $850. He immediately contacted the owner of the house and began the process.

The owner gave Lucas a lot of information and provided photos of the place. When Lucas asked him to come visit, the owner said it violates the rights of the current leasers.

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Lucas said he never had any gut feelings because he was in a hurry and needed to find a place. It wasn't until after the sent the money he started to notice something wasn't right.

The owner, the person Lucas thought was the owner, didn't return his calls. He then did his own research online and found the real owner. He looked up the name on Facebook and began talking with the person who really owns the home.

He said the owner told him this has happened before.

Westerville Police Division acting Chief Holly Murchland said unfortunately, this happens often.

She said the problem with these types of scams is they may be difficult to solve because the person could live states away or in another country. However, she said there are ways investigators could track them down. For example, investigators could use the email address they used and track where it came from.

Chief Murchland said there are ways to prevent this from happening. For starters, she said it is best to do a lot of research before making contact with the owner. Next, look for red flags like the person rushing the process or wanting money to be wired.

She said it is frustrating for their department to see because normally, it happens with young people or the elderly.