San Francisco police have arrested a woman for allegedly scamming several apartment seekers out of thousands of dollars after accepting their rental deposits and then, claiming her mother had cancer, absconding with the cash.
According to police spokesman Sgt. Troy Dangerfield, several people responded to a recent Craiglist ad placed by 29-year-old Rachael Marie Smith to rent her Richmond District apartment in the 5300 block of California Street.
The most recent alleged victim, a 22-year-old woman, said she signed a lease for the apartment on July 16 and gave Smith a $5,600 check for the deposit, Dangerfield said.
According to police, Smith later told the woman her mother had cancer and she would not be able to leave the apartment for another month.
Smith then did not return the woman’s calls or her deposit, police said.
The woman reported the incident to police on July 19 after she spoke with a female coworker who said she had signed a lease for the same apartment and also paid the deposit, Dangerfield said.
Smith was arrested on July 22.
Other possible victims have also been identified, and investigators believe there might be many more, Dangerfield said.
Anyone who might have been the victim of a similar scam is asked to call Inspector John Monroe of the Police Department’s economic crimes unit at (415) 553-1936.
Prosecutors have charged Smith with eight counts each of grand theft and obtaining money under false pretenses, in connection with four alleged victims, according to district attorney’s office spokeswoman Erica Derryck.
Smith is believed to have taken more than $20,000 from the four alleged victims, Derryck said.
Smith’s attorney with the public defender’s office was not available for comment today.