Victims of online rental scams seldom get justice. This Aspen case could buck the trend.
September 19, 2017
Aspen is a popular spot for Craigslist-type rental scams, though few of the scammers are ever caught.
But on Monday, an El Paso, Texas, woman charged with using Craigslist to rent an apartment on Aspen's eastside in April to a couple for more than $3,000 appeared in Pitkin County District Court and was charged with felony theft. Ruth Tinoco, 36, was extradited to Aspen from El Paso after Aspen police investigated the alleged fraud and received bank records of the funds being deposited into her account and video surveillance showing her accessing the account, according to an affidavit filed in Pitkin County District Court.
District Judge Chris Seldin ordered Tinoco held in lieu of a $1,500 cash-only bond. If she posts the bond, Seldin allowed her to return to El Paso.
The scam came to the attention of Aspen police in April, when a 25-year-old woman reported answering a Craigslist ad for an apartment for rent at a complex in the 600 block of South West End Street, according to the affidavit.
The woman said she signed a lease agreement by email and wire transferred $3,300 to Tinoco's Bank of America account, the affidavit states. The lease was for June, July and a deposit.
However, the woman became suspicious of the transaction and discovered that the apartment was actually for sale through an Aspen real estate firm and not for rent, according to the affidavit.