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Thursday, April 5, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Tacoma woman's house emptied after craigslist hoax

The Associated Press

TACOMA — Many people have had success buying, selling and swapping goods on the Web site craigslist, but one Tacoma woman says she was robbed.

Laurie Raye said she had everything stripped from her home after someone placed a fake ad on the San Francisco-based Internet site, a collection of online classifieds.

"The instigator who published this ad invited the public to come in and vandalize me," Raye told Seattle television station KING.

Raye had recently evicted a tenant and cleaned out the rental.

The ad posted last weekend welcomed people to take for free anything they wanted from the home. It has since been pulled from the site, but not before the residence was stripped of light fixtures, the hot water heater and the kitchen sink.

Neighbors said they saw strangers hauling items away, apparently looking for salvage material.

Even the front door and a vinyl window were pilfered, Raye said.

"In the ad, it said come and take what you want. Everything is free," she said. "Please help yourself to anything on the property."

Raye said she contacted craigslist and received an e-mail saying officials would need a subpoena or search warrant to release information about who posted the ad.

The online hoax isn't unusual, investigators said.

"We've had a lot of scams off of craigslist," Tacoma police Detective Gretchen Ellis told KING. "We've had prostitution things happen, rental scams, fraudulent activity. In this case, it appeared the items were going to be given away, but they were not."

Craigslist officials did not immediately respond today to a request for comment by The Associated Press.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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