Victim tried to set up fake realtor, helps lead to arrest

Shatara Jones says she gave $1,500 to Ebony Washington as a deposit for a rental home she later found out Washington didn't own. (WSYX/WTTE)

A Columbus mother is facing felony charges after police say she scammed she stole the rent money of a woman answering her Craigslist ad.

Shatara Jones said that she met Ebony Washington at a home on East 2nd Avenue in May that Jones wanted to rent. She said Washington allowed her inside, presented a lease and then took $1,500 for the deposit and rent. Jones was instructed that she'd be able to move in the following Friday but Jones was never given the keys. She then discovered the home had been rented to someone else.

"You're not about to get away with my money," Jones said about the alleged scam. "I don't care if I have to run through hell and high waters. You're going to run me my money."

Jones called police who said they've seen these types of realty thefts in the past.

"They said a lot of stuff like this has been going on. People will get the door locks changed. That's how they're getting into the houses," said Jones.

Court documents indicate detectives were not able to contact Washington through her personal phone or business phone at Roy Investments. The people who had answered the detective's call had informed him he had the wrong number. Jones said she then tried to set up Washington herself by getting her aunt and friends to answer the same Craigslist ad.

Detectives were able to show her a photo line-up of suspects when she said she positively identified Washington. Washington faced a judge Friday for theft charges. Jones hopes the case will soon lead to restitution.

Jones said she has learned not to hand over any money until she receives the keys on a property. She also plans to vet any property owner or manager through the Franklin County auditor.

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