COCOA BEACH, Florida -- The Brevard County Sheriff's Office Economic Crimes Task Force has made three arrests in two criminal investigations that involved alleged rental scams perpetrated through online Craigslist ads.
On December 05, 2013, 42-year-old Kerry Widman of Cape Canaveral was arrested for attempting to lease-to-own a residence in Cocoa Beach. The Craigslist advertisement identified a residence requiring a $5,000 down payment and a $750 monthly payment. Widman allegedly represented herself as the owner and prepared a fraudulent warranty deed and lease for the property, requesting a cashier’s check as payment. Widman was charged with scheming to defraud, criminal use of public records, uttering a forged document and grand theft. Widman was released from the Brevard County Jail after posting an $8,000 bond.
On December 12, 2013, 24-year-old Cedrick Davis and 22-year-old Ned Guilford were arrested for allegedly attempting to rent a beach front condo through a Craigslist ad. According to BCSO, one suspect claimed to be a real estate owner and the other suspect represented them self as a property manager. The suspects allegedly prepared a fraudulent lease agreement and accepted a check for $1,800 to rent the Cocoa Beach condo. The condo in question was actually occupied by the true owner, who had no idea of the scam. Davis and Guilford, both of Cocoa, Florida, were charged with scheming to defraud, uttering and grand theft. Both remain in the Brevard County Jail Complex on $6,000 and $15,000 bonds, respectively.
"These cases demonstrate the power of partnerships where we combine investigative resources of federal, state and local law enforcement with our community awareness and information-sharing programs," Sheriff Wayne Ivey said. "Through aggressive enforcement and information efforts, we want to make sure identity theft and fraud doesn’t happen to you."
BCSO cautions the public to be skeptical of any ad, which requires green dot and/or prepaid credit cards, money orders, cashier’s checks or cash as payment. Customers are warned not to send funds electronically or through the mail. Ownership of property that is being purchased, rented or leased should be verified by the prospective buyer.
Anyone who feels they may have been a victim of a scam or may need information concerning identity theft or fraud is asked to contact the Sheriff's Office Economic Crimes Unit at 321-633- 8410.