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Alleged San Francisco Apartment Scammer Skips Court Hearing

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(CBS)

(CBS)

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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – A $200,000 arrest warrant has been issued for a woman who failed to appear in court for a hearing on charges that she scammed more than a dozen San Francisco apartment seekers out of thousands of dollars, prosecutors said.

Rachael Marie Smith, 30, was arrested on July 22, 2010, on suspicion of accepting rental deposits and then claiming her mother had cancer, keeping the cash and saying the apartment was not available, police said.

Police said Smith placed Craigslist ads offering an apartment in the 5300 block of California Street in the city’s Richmond District. She allegedly accepted deposits from 14 people, including one person who gave her a check for $5,600, according to police.

Smith later told that victim that her mother had cancer and she would not be able to leave the apartment for another month, then did not return the woman’s calls or the deposit, according to police.

The woman reported the incident to police on July 19 after she spoke with a female coworker who said she had signed a lease at the same apartment and also paid the deposit, police said.

Smith apparently 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, prosecutors said.

She missed a court date last month, and a bench warrant for the $110,000 amount was issued, but was stayed for a month to give her a chance to return to court last Thursday.

Smith missed that court appearance, too, and was given one last chance to come to court on Friday, but failed to appear again, so a judge issued the bench warrant and raised the amount to $200,000, district attorney’s spokesman Seth Steward said.

Steward said Smith had not turned herself in as of Monday morning.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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