GLENDALE — A Glendale couple were charged Thursday with burglary and theft for bilking people out of money through an apartment-leasing scam on Craigslist, an Internet classifieds website, police said.
Andrew Femino and Caley McClary face four counts of second-degree commercial burglary, one count of identity theft, one count of first-degree burglary with a person present and one count of grand theft of a personal property, said Shiara M. Davila, a Los Angeles County district attorney’s office spokeswoman.
The district attorney’s office requested bail at $200,000 each, she said.
Glendale Police Department Financial Crimes Unit detectives began investigating the couple after they received information Oct. 27 from a renter who said he was scammed out of a deposit after responding to a rent advertisement Femino and McClary posted on Craigslist, Glendale Police Det. Jason Ross said.
“They came off as pretty reliable,” Ross said.
Detectives contacted the couple through e-mail, posing as renters interested in taking over the couple’s lease for their Glendale apartment, he said.
Femino, 25, and McClary, 28, told detectives to meet them at a bookstore and bring a rental application and $300 deposit.
Undercover detectives met Tuesday with Femino and arrested him and McClary, who was waiting in a car, Ross said.
Detectives discovered that McClary and Femino posted two advertisements on Craigslist about the lease takeover that required a $3,000 deposit and had asked interested renters to e-mail them if they wanted more information about the apartment, he said.
The couple talked to the interested renters on the phone, set up a meeting place and requested renters bring a rental application and a deposit of $300 to $500 when they met, Ross said.
“They kept the amounts small probably because they thought that was safer,” he said.
They posed as a married couple and met with four interested renters, Ross said. To assure the renters that Femino was the person he told them he was on the phone, he showed them an identification card, Ross said. But the identification card was stolen, he said.
After the couple’s arrest, Ross asked Craigslist to remove the couple’s advertisements. One advertisement was removed, but the other was still posted Thursday afternoon, he said.
When police searched the couple’s car, they found rental applications and called the individuals on the applications, Ross said. Some of the renters knew they had been scammed but didn’t report the incidents to police because they said they didn’t think they would be investigated, he said.
“They don’t realize it’s happened to other people,” he said.
Police said more people have likely had their deposits stolen.
Anyone who has details about Femino and McClary or believes he or she was a victim of the scam is asked to call Ross or Sgt. Brian Cohen at (818) 548-3101.
VERONICA ROCHA covers public safety and the courts. She may be reached at (818) 637-3232 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.