Man arrested in Craigslist auto sale scam

SAN ANTONIO – Police arrested 33-year-old Johnifer Lodge on Friday on a charge of felony theft after he allegedly swindled a man out of $2,500 using a false Craigslist ad to sell a vehicle.  

According to police, Lodge posted an ad for a Ford Mustang on Craigslist for $4,000 in July and attracted a buyer, who is a member of law enforcement. The victim called Lodge about the vehicle and received an offer to take over payments of the vehicle after a $2,500 down payment.

Lodge provided the victim with a phone number, which belonged to an accomplice, who told the victim arrangements had been made to take over payments. Soon after the deal, the victim called another number for the dealership to set up payments.

"He called the dealership to confirm this and the dealership said they had no clue to the arrangements being made and the vehicle was then repossessed," said Officer Douglas Greene of the San Antonio Police Department.

KSAT Crime Analyst Eddie Gonzales said there are a couple of big tips buyers should know when car shopping online.

"First, make sure that you see or have a title to the vehicle because it's a very important thing to do before any transaction takes place," said Gonzales. "If they're going to say you can take over payments and give you a number to call, the main thing you want to do is get with this person and go to the bank directly where this car is being financed at because there's no bank that's going to tell you just go ahead a take over without having some kind of documents prepared."

Another piece of advice, don't be in a hurry to make a deal.

"Take your time, even if it's a half a day process to track down all the leads on this to make sure it's a legitimate vehicle, so you don't end up with a stolen vehicle or a vehicle that's going to be repossessed from you in a few days," said Gonzales.

Police are not done investigating Lodge. When they served the warrant, he indicated he may be involved in other crimes.

"When we arrested him he made comments towards a separate criminal activity that he thought we were coming to pick him up to, so that clued us that he's involved in other activities her around the city," said Greene. "We are investigating into other possible crimes and scams that he may be connected to and possibly other people that he may be involved with that have been scamming citizens."