Rental rip-off snags 4 victims in St. Pete Beach

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — It’s a new twist on an old con. A Treasure Island man is accused of running a rental rip off. 

At least four people took the bait.

Joseph Jarnot is accused of keeping his old condo key to show off a waterfront unit and collect cash. Problem is, it wasn’t his to rent out.

There are million dollar views of the intracoastal waterway. Breathtaking vistas are at St. Pete Beach’s prime waterfront condo, the Yacht and Tennis Club on Blind Pass Road.

Gladys Adams thought she’d landed in heaven.

“I was looking on Craigslist. I found it. It was on the water. I love being near the water,” she said.

It was a Craigslist offer she couldn’t pass up. Adams met up with Joseph Jarnot, who showed her around the seventh floor condo.

“He was good. I’m usually very skeptical of stuff but he, everything I thought about, he seemed to have covered it,” said Adams.

She gave Jarnot $850. He gave her a receipt. Soon after, things got ugly.

Jarnot told her his health was failing.

“All of the sudden, he’s about dead, and I’m, that’s when it really, the flags went up,” she said.

Emails turned ugly.

“Near the end, I really figured out he was doing something, and he threw Christianity at me. ‘If you’re a Christian, you wouldn’t be asking questions like this,’ and stuff like that. Trying to make me feel bad. That didn’t work. It just made me angry,” said Adams.

She ended up in a hotel, financed by a friend.

“I’ve gone through a lot. I could have been homeless, if it hadn’t of been, I would have been homeless,” she said, tearing up.

Pinellas County deputies got wise to the rental rip-off, and said Jarnot scammed three others, for a total of $3700.

“He really devastated me. I’m still paying back people and I will be paying back for a long time,” said Adams.

Jarnot’s real estate days are over.

“I don’t usually cheer for people going to jail, but, in this case, yeah,” said Adams.

Jarnot is charged with scheme to defraud.

Detectives don’t think there are more victims beyond the four they’ve identified.

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