General Crime

* Rachael Marie Smith accused of scamming San Francisco apartment seekers using Craigslist ads

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A woman accused of scamming more than a dozen San Francisco apartment seekers out of thousands of dollars pleaded guilty Monday to three counts of grand theft, prosecutors said. Rachael Marie Smith, 30, was arrested in July 2010 on suspicion of accepting rental deposits and then claiming her mother had cancer, keeping the cash and saying the apartment was no longer available, police said.

Smith placed Craigslist ads offering an apartment in the 5300 block of California Street in the city’s Richmond District, and allegedly accepted deposits from 18 people, who each gave about $5,500 for first month’s rent and a security deposit, prosecutors said. She allegedly took a total of $110,000 from the victims and was charged with several felony counts of grand theft and obtaining money under false pretenses, according to the district attorney’s office.

Smith missed three court dates in the case in June and July of this year, and a $200,000 bench warrant was issued for her arrest. She eventually turned herself in on Aug. 16, and on Monday accepted a plea deal that will land her in state prison for two years. She will also be required to pay restitution to all of the victims, prosecutors said.

“Smith took thousands of dollars from numerous unsuspecting citizens hoping to have found a place to live,” District Attorney George Gascon said in a statement.”Instead of providing a home, this defendant pocketed their hard-earned money and disappeared,” Gascon said. “This plea will hopefully bring some closure to the victims in this case.” Smith is scheduled to return to court on Oct. 19 to be sentenced.

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