Ramblings & ephemera

Craigslist “everything is free!” scams

Robert Salisbury

From “Man scammed by Craigslist ad” (The Seattle Times: 24 March 2008):

The ads popped up Saturday afternoon, saying the owner of a Jacksonville home was forced to leave the area suddenly and his belongings, including a horse, were free for the taking, said Jackson County sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Colin Fagan.

But Robert Salisbury had no plans to leave. The independent contractor was at Emigrant Lake when he got a call from a woman who had stopped by his house to claim his horse.

On his way home he stopped a truck loaded down with his work ladders, lawn mower and weed eater.

“I informed them I was the owner, but they refused to give the stuff back,” Salisbury said. “They showed me the Craigslist printout and told me they had the right to do what they did.”

The driver sped away after rebuking Salisbury. On his way home he spotted other cars filled with his belongings.

Once home he was greeted by close to 30 people rummaging through his barn and front porch.

From “Couple held in Craigslist theft case” (The Seattle Times: 1 April 2008):

Police on Monday arrested a Medford couple who allegedly used hoax postings on Craigslist to cover up their own thefts from a rural Jacksonville residence later inundated by Craigslist readers who thought the house’s contents were free pickings for the taking.

Amber D. Herbert, 28, and Brandon D. Herbert, 29, were taken into custody on burglary, theft and computer crime charges involving the Craigslist hoax that drew international attention and cost the victim several thousand dollars, authorities said.

…the Herberts told police they took several saddles from the property and sold them over the Internet.

Laurie Raye

From “Tacoma woman’s house emptied after craigslist hoax” (The Seattle Times: 5 April 2007):

Laurie Raye said she had everything stripped from her home after someone placed a fake ad on the San Francisco-based Internet site, a collection of online classifieds.

Raye had recently evicted a tenant and cleaned out the rental.

The ad posted last weekend welcomed people to take for free anything they wanted from the home. It has since been pulled from the site, but not before the residence was stripped of light fixtures, the hot water heater and the kitchen sink.

Neighbors said they saw strangers hauling items away, apparently looking for salvage material.

Even the front door and a vinyl window were pilfered, Raye said.

“In the ad, it said come and take what you want. Everything is free,” she said. “Please help yourself to anything on the property.”

From “Woman charged after Craigslist posting resulted in a house stripped” (The Seattle Times: 17 May 2007):

Pierce County prosecutors have filed charges against the niece of a woman whose house was stripped clean after a Craigslist.org posting advertised that everything in the home was free.

Nichole Blackwell, 28, was charged with second-degree burglary, malicious mischief and criminal impersonation for allegedly posting an ad that read, “Moving out … House being demolished. Come and take whatever you want, nothing is off limits,” on the online classifieds Web site, according to charging documents from Pierce County Superior Court.

It wasn’t until six days after the ad was posted that Laurie Raye, owner of the home in the 1200 block of East 64th Street in Tacoma, checked on the house to find it stripped.

Nearly everything that wasn’t bolted down — and some stuff that was — was taken.

People, thinking that they could remove whatever they wanted, grabbed the refrigerator, front door and kitchen sink, among other things, according to the documents.

Police believe Blackwell disliked Raye and was particularly upset because Raye had recently evicted Blackwell’s mother from the house.

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