A Skokie family is out $3,600 and has been left scrambling to find a place to live after they say they were scammed by an allegedly fake landlord.
The family says that they were victims of a trick that left them without a large chunk of money, and without the ability to pay rent or bills at their old apartment.
According to Viviana Quiroz and her family, they were looking for a new apartment and they found one, a unit renting in suburban Skokie for $1,200 per month, on Craigslist.
The woman identified on the listing as the landlord said her name was Sarah Goldman, but according to authorities her real name is Debra Wasserman, and she said she wanted to help out the Quiroz family in finding a new home.
“She was just saying she wanted to help out a family to live comfortably, and that’s what we were hoping for,” Alex Quiroz said.
Wasserman allegedly asked the family for payments of $3,600, and demanded that the sum be paid in cash.
When the family arrived on move-in day with their belongings and a one-year lease in hand, they were informed that everything about the rental agreement was fake, and that they had been duped.
“I immediately started crying,” Viviana said. “I had my kids there and I just started crying. The woman lied to us.”
Pankaj Kumar, who lives in the building, said he had to tell several families that they had been scammed in a similar fashion.
Skokie police were notified, but they had already arrested Wasserman, who had outstanding warrants for ID theft and burglary. She now faces three charges of theft by deception in the cases.
For now, the Quiroz family is back in their old apartment, but their lease ends this month and they have been left with no way to recover the money that they lost.
The family is encouraging would-be renters to always carefully vet any potential landlord, and to avoid red flags, such as demands that payments be made in cash.