Rental scam hits South Tampa home, ABC Action News tracks down phony owner

Posted at 10:25 PM, Jun 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-29 23:20:56-04

TAMPA, Fla. — ABC Action News is uncovering a rental scam in one of Tampa's most desirable neighborhoods. 

ABC Action News reporter Ryan Smith spotted a Craigslist post on Thursday offering a home for rent on South Waverly Place for a modest $950 a month. The post has since been removed and the owner says he's not surprised a scammer is trying to profit off of his property. 

"You might be able to rent a room, like above a garage or something," said owner Jeff Sikorske. 

ABC Action News contacted the man claiming to be Sikorske and asked for a tour of the house. He replied in part, "I had to leave due to work and family emergencies and my wife is down with a severe leukemia, but you are free to drive by to look around." 

The man even sent ABC Action News reporter Ryan Smith a fake rental application asking for several pieces of personal information.

We showed Sikorske an email chain that shows the man pretending to be him.

"It looks like they pulled my legal name from public records to find out who owned the property and then did a bogus email account," said Sikorske. "Once you put it online, that it just opens up Pandora's Box." 

When we called to question the man behind the post, he claimed to be the rightful owner and immediately hung up. 

Sikorske says he's uncovered at least three phony listings in less than a week. 

"That just goes to show that for renters, they need to do their homework, too," said Sikorske. "To find out if the rents are in line with what the rest of the area is doing."