West Michigan family vacation hindered by Craigslist scam

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- A West Michigan family was planning a dream vacation out west with their three kids this summer, but the day before their big trip, they say, a Craigslist scam changed their plans.

The family was out $1,600 after responding to an ad online, and the Midland County Sheriff’s Department says they received multiple calls about similar scams.

The family of five planned a camping vacation a year in advance.

“It was really hard for me to see my husband feel so bad about the whole thing,” said Laurie Guikema, the victim of the alleged Craigslist scam. "He was trying to make this great vacation for the family, and it just made me more upset at her because he was trusting her and she took advantage of that."

The Guikema's vacation included heading to Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National Park in late June.

“My husband went out west when he was a kid. It was his absolute favorite vacation, so he was like we have to do this,” said Guikema.

All they needed was an RV, so they went on Craiglist to look for something inexpensive, because they had a great experience prior with the website.

“Yeah we bought our minivan, and it was great,” she said.

They found a woman named Tanya Hunter who was renting out her RV for $1,600 in Midland County,  and they jumped on the opportunity.

“We were like we want the RV, so let's go for it.”

The Guikemas didn’t move forward before taking what they thought were proper precautions. They signed a contract agreeing to pay a $600 security deposit and $1,000 rental fee upon booking.

“We definitely said we would like to sign something,” she said.

They had Ms. Hunter send them references, pictures of the RV and even went to go check it out in person.

“My husband actually drove to a horse show a couple hours away because her daughter shows horses. So he went to see the RV and go through it and make sure it was clean and as advertised,” she said.

Everything checked out, until a storm hit five days before their vacation.

“We got a call from her that the RV had gotten hit by a branch.”

Hunter said it was not drivable and refused to send her pictures of the damage. She claimed she would get it fixed in time.

“We were supposed to leave Saturday at 8 a.m., Friday [June 20], she called us and said it’s not going to be fixed.”

The Guikemas went on their vacation anyway and dished out extra money to stay in hotels for their adventure.

“Friday night she said I will send you a check Monday,” Guikema said.

When the family returned from their vacation two weeks later, there was no check. Since their vacation, they've only received $300 dollars from her.

“She was constantly trying to explain why she wasn't giving us the money, and we were sympathetic for the summer. Now it's October, and our trip was in June."

The Guikemas said Hunter has been unreachable, failing to answer her phone or e-mail. We reached out to Tanya Friday afternoon. She declined a phone interview but sent an e-mail saying she's working on repaying the Guikemas.

This isn't the first time this has happened. It happened to the Guikemas friends too. “Same thing: The week of the vacation, it’s 'broken,' and she still hasn't paid them back.”

FOX 17 News obtained court documents in which a different family took Hunter to small claims court for not giving them back their security deposit. Although the Guikemas are thankful that their family still got to go on vacation, they feel violated.

“It makes me angry that somebody does this repeatedly,” Guikema said.

After we contacted Hunter, she told the Guikemas she is sending their money.

The Midland County Sheriff’s Department says they are aware of the problem, and if anyone has had a similar scenario with Hunter to contact their department at 989-839-4621.

Hunter currently doesn't have any more Craiglist ads.

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34 comments

  • TheFoundingFathers

    Well it’s nobody’s fault except their own! What kind of fool would even use Craigslist? If this family had any brains they would have rented from a damn R.V. dealership!

    • David Dalman

      As for you , you dumb A_ _ You must work for a RV dealership. I do not need to hear from you if you did not get scamed by this person. Tanya Hunter is going to pay this money she owes everyone or she goes to jail. Dave Dalman
      Oh and what was your name ?

  • SoConfused

    She is notorious for scamming people in the horse industry. Anything from saddles, clothing, horses, trailers, etc! How does she keep getting away with this? This has been going on for years and she has never spent one day in jail.

  • Charlie

    she may not have any ads under Tanya Hunter, but she also likes to use fake names such as Michelle Brown, this is her attorney character! She is a dangerous women!

  • Tango

    You guys want some real crazy stories? Start talking to the people that show horses with her, trainers she has used, clubs she has ripped off etc.

  • gigi

    Notorious scam/rip off artist! Check with all of Mason county..Most horse shows h Ave banned her here in this area. Also…check past husband’s whom she has left high and dry..Hope she’s hangs high !! Remove this bad apple from society she’s Toxic!!

  • Jill Woodard

    This same thing happened to us. We did the same thing as this couple, had the signed contract, checked it all out but we were out $1,900. Interesting – this family was leaving June 20th we had the contract to leave on June 26th. For the same thing – a dream trip out west that we had planned for over a year. Everything seemed to check out so we went for it. The last time I have heard from Tanya Hunter was 8/12 and have only seen $500 of my returned money.

      • Norma Witten

        We also rented a motorhome for our family vacation at the end of July, The night before the rental date, we got a call saying the motorhome was in an accident outside of Chicago and would not be able for our rental time. She did say she would send back our payment in full of $1100.00. She even offered to send it to our hotel in Canada. Upon returing, we did not and still have not returned our cash deposit. We did file a claim in Midland small claims court, since she did not show up in court, so we were granted a judgement since she did not appear in court. She was given a non-appearance default. She was given 30 days to send payment or set up some kind of payment arrangement. If payment is not made within this time period, we will have to file a claim to locate her assets, then file another claim to garinshee wages, or bank accounts. She has taken money from too many honest people! She needs to be stopped. I am working with dectective from Midland County, if enough cases are considered fraudulent, she may go to jail with crimminal charges.

  • Theresa

    Oh, how nice. We were also suppose to rent her motorhome from June 26th- July 7th 2014 to go to Florida. She told us the night before we were suppose to leave that the last renters brought back the motorhome and it needed exhaust work and was at her mechanics, but that she was rushing them to get it done on time, still stringing us along. She even went so far as to tell us, IF it was not done on time she would let us take her “personal” motorhome. She continued to string us along that entire evening into the next day, the day we were suppose to be leaving for Florida. She said her husband was coming home from work to just check over their brakes and tires on their own motorhome and then we could take that one. Of course that also fell through, she then called us and said she was going to rent us one of her friends motorhomes and pay the diffrence and wanted to know if that would be alright?? (are you kidding me???) “yes Tanya”, that would be alright, but of course that never happened either! Needless to say she screwed us over also!! She knew I was renting this motorhome to transport my family which at the time we had two pregnant ladies, and my grandson who is autistic and wanted the ride for them mostly to be comfortable. We had a home we rented there, thank GOD and were not planning on staying in the motorhome once we arrived in Florida. So at the last minute we had to purchase three airline tickets to get my autistic grandson, his mother and great grandmother there as he could not do the drive in a car. It was a huge mess and ALOT more out of pocket money because of her and her lies!!

    • jill

      Have you contacted the midland police because that is the same time we were supposed to rent the motorhome. That is definitely fraud at that point. That’s 3 people that I’ve seen on here that she rented to for the same time. And who knows how many more.

      • David Dalman

        Well here is one more. Have signed contract for June 13 2015 to June 25 2015 . Thought things were not right when she would not e-mail, or return calls after Thanksgiving. I sent her 1700.00 for payment in full. This women needs to go to jail soon. I was taking my savings to take my grandchildren on a trip to Custer State Park. She is a low life . I get madder every time I think of this. I just called the Midland police number and I will talk with them to marrow. I trust no one no more !! I am 64 years old and my wife is heart broken. Now we can not take our grandchildren anywhere as they so plans to go with us, They will go from smiles to tears. Tonya Hunter has no heart. I will take her to court if it is the last thing I do. D. Dalman from Zeeland Mi. memorrylane60@charter.net

        • jill

          I feel for you. I have been to court she was a no show so I got default judgement but I still haven’t seen a dime. I feel as if going back to court to try to find out how to get my money is a waste of time since she won’t show for that either.

          • David Dalman

            Theresa, I have called the Midland County Sheriff Dept. 3 times today, and get a answering service. At 410 today I missed a call from them, and I quickly called that number back and got the answering service again. I hope to marrow is a more productive day. I was told by a friend to send a Certified Letter to her asking for the money back. She needs to sign it get it. If she does not accept the letter. It will get sent back to me unexpected. The court will want to see that as record that I asked for money return and she refused. That is a start. The Midland County Sheriff Dept. number is 989 839 4621 for the detective that is on this case. I hope to talk with him to marrow. Dave

          • David Dalman

            Jill, yes we have all been taken advantage of. We all need to come together on this and get her some Jail time. Please keep us informed . Why doesn’t the court follow up on this? She is a no show , and no act person. She is most likely in hiding. We need to get the court to take a few things from her .

          • jill

            Any ideas how? It seems as if the courts aren’t doing anything. In fact when I went for my court datte the judge says tanya hunter is not here and I dont expect her to be. So they are well aware of what is going on. But now in order to try and get money I have to go to court again to try and find out what her assets are or where she works and if she didn’t show the first time she’s not showing for that one.

          • jill

            Last I heard was informartion was handed over to prosecute and it was up them if they were going to press charges. Haven’t heard if they did.

          • David Dalman

            Hi Jill, I had a great discussion talk with the investigation Division today. Please call them ( 989-839-4621) Trust me they are on this, her record is long, and they need everyone to call them that has been scammed by Tonya Hunter.

    • Norma Witten

      What great news, I am glad she has been arrested. She has scammed too many people out of too much money and she needs to repay everyone she has taken advantage of. I have given my information to Detective Belding at the Midland Co. Sheriffs department and he has been on the job
      and I hope the last post stating Tanya has been arrested is due to his hard work putting all our cases together to stop her from fraudulently taking peoples money. Looking forward to hear more
      about her case.

      • jill

        Does anyone know how to get any money back? I filed the small claims, received judgement,. Of course she didn’t pay but how do I get my money or are we all screwed? Now that she has been arrested will there be some hope that the procecuters will do something for us besides put her in jail. If anyone can provide guidance I would appreciate it. I’m out over 1,600.

        • David Dalman

          Just want to thank everyone for sending in all the information to this Detective. I want to thank all who helped in getting her arrested. Now let the law do their work, We need to be patient. I am so thankful that they followed up on all our complaints. This arrest is sooner than I thought would happen. It will all fall into place. This made my New Year start off right !! David Dalman from Zeeland Mi.

          • Jessica

            Hi – does anyone have any further information on this case? I heard she was arrested but was she prosecuted/charged/sentenced?

          • David G. Dalman

            Jessica, I talked with Detective Brent Benzing yesterday , by e-mail. He says they have tons of stuff that they are going through now at the Prosecutor’s office and it will take some time. He realizes that we all want answers, but he ask for our understanding ,in that it will take awhile to go through all they have on her. It is being looked at. He ask for our patience and will let us know as soon as he knows. I am not sure if she has been arrested or not. Somebody put that on here, that she has, but that does not mean she has, It could have been anybody writing that. Sincerely David Dalman