Rental Scam Allegedly Bilked Dozens Out of Millions [Video]

When it comes to audacity, is Robert Tribble the Bernie Madoff of Craigslist rental scammers? Tribble stands accused of making millions in rent and deposits by trolling Florida's Broward, Palm Beach, and Martin counties for foreclosed and vacant properties, then forging documents on those properties so that he could rent and lease them out on the classified-ads website, claiming them as his own. Tribble, 50, of Jupiter, Fla., purportedly bilked scores of renters and homebuyers in the bold scheme, according to Florida authorities.

Robert Tribble, alleged craigslist scammer
Like Madoff, the Wall Street financier and former chairman of NASDAQ who for decades ran a staggeringly successful Ponzi scheme involving billions of dollars, Tribble is said to have lured those who thought that they had done their due diligence -- examining documents, checking public records and consulting with lawyers. As seen in the video above, alleged victim Wes Bubeck says that he "spoke to all the references, met with his attorney ... who vouched for him" before giving Tribble a $15,000 deposit on a house. Then when Bubeck questioned Tribble about information that suggested that Tribble, in fact, didn't own the home, Tribble "threatened to have me arrested, he threatened to sue me," Bubeck says.

Also like Madoff, whose targets included charities and hospitals, Tribble is alleged to have preyed on victims who included the elderly and disabled. Some had already spent thousands of dollars on improvements to the homes that Tribble put them in, authorities say, before they were confronted by the properties' actual owners about why they were occupying the dwellings illegally. The case involves at least 50 known victims and 35 properties.

Tribble and his alleged accomplice, Mary Revoller-Chavez, 45, were arrested this week on charges including organized scheme to defraud, criminal use of personal identification and money laundering, reported The Palm Beach Post. UPDATE: Jan. 13 -- Tribble's bail was put at $8 million and Revoller-Chavez's was set at $2 million, said Fort Lauderdale's Sun-Sentinel newspaper.

More about rental scams:
Homeless Man Allegedly Rents Out Vacant, Foreclosed Home
5 Tip-Offs To A Rental Scam
Renters Beware: Fraudsters Still Lurking on Craigslist

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