Alleged scammer asks to be freed from jail to visit sick daughter

TACOMA, Wash. -- A Tacoma woman charged with scamming more than dozen people out of their rent money is asking to be let of jail because her daughter is ill.

Erica Brown is being held on $1 million bail but went before a judge Wednesday to get it reduced.

For more than a year and a half, Brown has been in jail accused of scamming people out of their deposits for rent. She'd advertise on Craigslist as an agent who'd help mostly low income people find rental housing.

David Cutri signed on.

"She was so sweet on the phone," Curti said. "Honey, hon. 'We're going to take care of you hon.' Just really sweet on the phone. We never saw her face-to-face though."

He paid $800 cash as a deposit on a house. But Cutri says each time he tried to move in, she'd say something's happened.

"She told us that there's a problem... the place is going through foreclosure."

This went on for weeks and when Cutri asked for his deposit back, he said Brown stopped returning his calls.

He called police, who told him he wasn't alone -- more than a dozen people had the same thing happen to them.

"And that's when they got back to us and said, 'You're dealing with a crook,' " Cutri said.

In court Wednesday, Brown asked for a reduced bail so she could get out of jail and see her 11-year-old daughter, who had to go to the hospital for possible surgery with fluid around the heart.

The judge agreed to cut the bail to $500,000 and allow for an escorted visit to the hospital.

But as far as getting totally out of jail, Cutri says no way. He believes she'll flee.

"I'm thinking she's going to go," he said. "She hid from them for a long time. She's pretty smart. I think she's going to go."

Brown faces up to 20 years in jail if convicted. Investigators say the money she allegedly took is all gone.