St. Johns deputies issue warning about Craigslist home rental scam

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Since his wife died of breast cancer, Shrenik Shah has been coming down from Atlanta to run the Donna race in memory of her.

"Coming down and having it occur like this is really shocking," Shah said.

This year, Shah said he decided to rent a beach home for his whole family to stay in, but when he got there, he was greeted by construction workers instead of someone with a key like he was told.

"They said, 'Oh we weren't expecting anybody,' and I started to get a little concerned,” Shah said.

Donna Head said her home is still under construction from Hurricane Matthew, and she was surprised when one of the workers called her to say someone was at her house to vacation.

"I talked to him and tried to explain to him that he had not rented our house, and I asked him where he got the information, who he talked to, and he gave me names of people I didn't hear of before," Head said.

The Craigslist ad that Shah rented the home through has since been taken down.

Shah said he immediately called the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, since he wired more than $1,300 to the scammer.

"As soon as the officer got out of the car, he knew what happened and told me this happens often," Shah said.

SJSO Cmdr. Chuck Mulligan said they recently got a call about someone driving around taking pictures of the front of homes, and said that this is something to look out for.

"People should be aware of situations like that, that don't sound right, the story doesn't fit the actions," Mulligan said.

Mulligan said that people should look up numbers and names through public records to see if it matches the ad before renting a home.