Country singer Johnny Lee is a favorite among the AutoSlash team. Well, he's a favorite of the older members of the AutoSlash team; the younger members are only familiar with him because I include his greatest hit in stories where relationships go awry and rental cars come into play. Two recent examples include a scenario where life wasn't great at the Super 8 and a pickup attempt gone awry at an Enterprise. Today's cautionary tale of "Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places" comes from Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, where a Craigslist hookup gone awry has resulted in charges of theft, extortion, and an arrest warrant from the Harrisburg Bureau of Police!
Craigslist is apparently one of the wrong places.
According to the Harrisburg Bureau of Police, the incident started January 31 of this year, when one Craigslist user contacted another Craigslist user (listed as Dareece Lamar Hairston) for consensual sexual encounters. Sounds pretty straightforward, until Hairston tells the other gentleman that he's underage, then initiates an extortion scheme. The extortion scheme starts out small, as the "underage" individual appeared to have sized up his mark pretty well. The extorter initially demanded $250 to keep quiet (to the victim's family and police) about the "underage" encounters, so the victim made "several ATM withdrawals and gave the male a total of $290 in cash".
Hairston -- ostensibly underage -- then requires the victim to provide him with a rental car for two days in exchange for his silence. The victim agrees and rents a 2016 Chevrolet Cruze but there are a few predictable problems:
- A truly underage driver isn't allowed to drive a rental car (ever).
- There's almost no chance the rental car is going to be returned, whether on schedule or at all, when part of a scam. We know of precisely two exceptions to that rule in the past year (case 1, case 2). And this case would follow the norm ...
Somehow, the victim happened to know (or find out) the legal name of the scammer, so that helped police greatly when the vehicle wasn't returned on schedule. However, Hairston declared he had given the rental car to a different individual and police discovered that Hairston was actually 26 years old (not underage). The car was found in Maryland and the victim was out a total of $1,790 as part of the scam (six days). And the victim is very likely on some company's Do Not Rent List for an unauthorized use -- the rental car companies do care about that subject!
Hairston will face both a felony and misdemeanor once captured:
- Third-degree felony "Theft By Extortion -- Threat to Accuse Another of a Criminal Offense"
- First-degree misdemeanor "Theft of Leased Property"
Our take? Craigslist is great for many functions. Relationships (fleeting or long-term) are probably on the "not great" list ...