SFgate.com has the story of a 21-year-old area man who thought he could con multiple hopeful tenants out of cash deposits for a home he doesn’t own.
The man, posing as the owner’s son, showed the woman around the house earlier this week. When she agreed to rent the place, he provided her with a credit application and said he’d need the $1,500 deposit in cash or cashier’s check.
Before she got taken by the scammer, the woman mentioned it to her realtor friend, who happened to know that this house was not a rental property but was actually up for sale.
The man had apparently stolen the “For Sale” sign out of the front yard and was luring victims in with a Craigslist ad.
Meanwhile, legitimate real estate agents were attempting to sell the house. In fact, the real homeowner says an offer had been accepted on the property the same day that the scammer had shown the house to the potential victim.
Working with police, the woman arranged a meeting at the house with the fake property manager to hand over the deposit. He agreed, but for some reason left before she arrived at the property.
Police pulled the scammer over for a traffic violation. Then the woman showed up and identified him as the alleged landlord.
A search of his car turned up the stolen “For Sale” sign, a plastic display box the actual realtor had left inside the home, and completed rental agreements from four different applicants.
The scammer, already out on bail in a felony robbery case, was charged with suspicion of residential burglary, possession of stolen property, renting property under false pretenses and identity theft.
Last year, a woman in Missouri was arrested after scamming nearly $10,000 in deposits from six people trying to rent a property that she did not own. And a man in New Jersey collected $75,000 worth of rent for beach vacation properties he didn’t own or for properties that renters couldn’t access or inhabit.