Scam Targets Odessa Homeowner

By: Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - A scam alert started with a call into the NewsWest 9 newsroom - an Odessa woman concerned that it would happen to somebody else reached out to NewsWest 9 for help. The scammer's used her dead mother's name to try to get some fast cash. We did a little digging and found out it's more wide-spread than you might think.

Angela Richardson has spent the past several months fixing up a brick house in Odessa. It belonged to her mother who recently passed away. After Angela finished remodeling, she put it up for sale with a local real estate agent who listed the home online, but that wasn't the only spot her mom's house appeared on the Internet.

A relative noticed Angela's home up for rent on Craigslist operated by someone claiming to be her mother, Marsha Richey.

"I was just very surprised someone would try to use a dead person's name to scam people out of money. They went as far as to make up an e-mail," Scam Victim, Angela Richardson said.

"It's a very bad situation all around, you throw on top of that this particular consumer situation: her mother passed away," Trish Powell with the Better Business Bureau, said. "That feeling, that emptiness, that pain, never goes away, you learn to live with it. She's finally reached a point of selling her mother's home and now this happens. The emotional impact is difficult in addition to everything else."

She had her son e-mail the scammers saying he was interested in renting. The scammers who are posing as her dead mother replied by asking him to send $1,500 to their current location in South Africa.

"I was devastated," Richardson said. "I've never heard of anything like this."

NewsWest 9 also spoke with the realtor- she says this isn't the first time Odessa has seen this same scam. In fact, they've dealt with at least two other cases just like Angela's. The Better Business Bureau says they're investigating not only this scam, but others like it.

"They can be anywhere and tell you they're somewhere else and you're not going to drive over there to verify it, so they're able to get people to trust them," Powell said.

The Better Business Bureau says it's difficult for authorities to track down scammers in foreign countries leaving the victims with empty pockets.

"It's no longer on Craigslist, but there's no telling how many people replied to it before it was taken off Craigslist," Richardson said.

Angela says she's reported her case to the FBI and the Better Business Bureau, but at this point, they say there's not much they can do with a scam coming out of a foreign country.