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Police here nab suspected Craigslist scammer

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If you're a victim

If you think you were a Craigslist scam victim, call Detective Casey Furge or Detective Joe Lyon at the Fort Wayne Police Detective Bureau at 427-1201.

Michigan man allegedly snared victims by using online classified ads.

Friday, September 11, 2009 - 10:38 am

Fort Wayne Police have arrested a Flint, Mich., man they believe is behind what may have been a multistate scam that used the online classifieds site Craigslist.

Police arrested 30-year-old Randy A. Hatter in a sting Wednesday at the Starbucks at 502 W. Jefferson Blvd. He is being held at Allen County Lockup on three preliminary counts of theft and one of deception. Hatter was convicted in 2006 for identity theft and was out on parole at the time of this arrest.

Hatter is suspected of posting baby-sitting job openings on Craigslist, then requiring “applicants” to provide vital information on a form and pay him $25 to run a background check, according to Fort Wayne Police spokesman Michael Joyner. The jobs are a ruse, and Hatter allegedly pockets the funds.

Joyner said authorities in Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Tennessee and North Carolina are looking into similar cases that could be tied to Hatter.

Fort Wayne Police became involved when two apparent local victims called to report they'd been bilked.

Joyner said the two victims each responded to the job posting on Craigslist, and were subsequently contacted by Hatter. Meetings were set up, where Hatter requested the money for the background check.

However, the two victims were acquaintances, Joyner said, and during a conversation about the job opening and the oddity that they never heard back from Hatter, the victims became suspicious and contacted police.

So Fort Wayne Police detectives researched the ad and applied for the job; Hatter later called to set up a meeting, Joyner said.

Two female detectives, posing as respondents to the ad, showed up Wednesday to meet Hatter at the Starbucks, as arranged. When they gave him the $25 for the background investigation, police made the arrest, Joyner said.

The sting was operated and completed without incident, Joyner said. He said the two victims have agreed to testify against Hatter.