SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- A San Diego woman said a scammer used the military to trick her into paying for a phony apartment rental.
"We were looking to move during this tough time, which is kind of already more stressful than it normally would be,” said Maci, who declined to use her last name.
She searched various websites and thought she found a good deal on Craigslist for a place downtown on Market Street. Through email, the supposed owner said his name was Matthew Sherman, a sergeant stationed at Naval Station Rota in Spain. He said he was looking for a long-term renter and sent Maci a link with photos and an Airbnb site that looked legitimate.
"Along with the presence of the military, presence of the Airbnb website, I felt safe in the process,” Maci said.
She exchanged emails and text messages to get more information about the apartment. She wired $1,600.
“There was this sense of pressure because I was so worried that this great deal was going to disappear,” Maci said.
It turns out that the listing was fake. Maci said the profile photo used by the man pretending to be Sgt. Sherman was a real soldier who passed away in an accident in 2018.
“It really just sad heavy on my heart because this person's family doesn't realize his photo's being used for criminal activity,” Maci said.
When Team 10 contacted “Matthew Sherman,” the response via email was similar to what Maci received. When questioned if the listing was legitimate, he stopped responding.
It was an expensive lesson for Maci, but one she wants to share so others do not fall for it.
"Do your due diligence, trust your instincts, [and] do your research,” Maci said.