Evicted tenant rips off Tampa family in rental scam

Family duped out of their 'dream home'
Posted at 11:17 PM, Jan 16, 2017

A Tampa family is out a deposit for a new place to live after a con man admitted to ripping them off in a rental scam.

Stephanie Dunbar and Daniel Arizmendi were looking for a new home, leaving behind their cramped two-bedroom apartment.

The couple care for three children together, one of whom is disabled, suffering from an intraventricular hemorrhage as a newborn.

They found the home at 10904 N. 22nd St. to be a perfect fit.

"It was enough room for our kids, for our disabled son to have his own room with his medical supplies,  where he would be able to be comfortable," said Dunbar.

The engaged couple immediately responded to an ad on Cragslist, featuring a single-story, four bedroom house with reasonable rent.

They received a tour of the property the very next day.

"He came totally dressed right as if he was actually a real real estate agent," said Daniel Arizmendi.

That agent was nothing more than a con man, according to Hillsborough County investigators.

Lenard Woolbright actually lived at the house and was in the process of being evicted.

But before he was kicked out, Woolbright posted a phony ad providing a lease, business cards, and his driver's license in a show of good faith.

Dunbar said Woolbright was convincing and she had no reason not to believe he was a legitimate real estate agent.

"It was like the clouds opened up and told us to get this house," said Dunbar.

The couple met Woolbright the next day at a Winn-Dixie parking lot on Fowler Street to get the keys and pay a $1,000 deposit.

But before Woolbright handed over the keys, he snatched the cash right out of Dunbar's hand and took off.

"You took from a needy family and now you have a record, for a few hundred bucks. There's no sense to that," said Dunbar.

Woolbright dropped his cell phone in the parking lot during his getaway, reporting it stolen the next day.

Deputies were able to quickly track him down thanks to his report and made an arrest within 24 hours of Dunbar telling HCSO what happened.

Investigators were able to recover about half of the family's deposit, but the hard-working couple is struggling to save enough money again for a home they desperately need.

"It has set us back drastically and it was kind of pretty much everything we had," said Dunbar. "We were putting everything into this house."

Woolbright faces a felony charge of third-degree grand theft.