Friday, September 04, 2015

Another Tenant Falls Victim To Rental Scam, Unwittingly Renting Vacant City-Owned Home & Paying Cash To Fake Landlord

In Lincoln Park, Michigan, The News-Herald reports:
  • A woman who believed she was renting a house heading into foreclosure is the latest victim of a rental scam, according to Lincoln Park officials.

    The woman reportedly began paying cash to a man claiming to be the landlord of a two-bedroom house in the 1500 block of Pagel Avenue, which the city obtained in June from the Wayne County Treasurer’s Office through a quit claim deed.

    Doreen Christian, assistant community planning and development director, said the city planned to use federal Community Development Block Grant money to repair and upgrade the house for a low- to moderate-income family. While checking on the house Aug. 3, she saw a vehicle in the driveway and the front door open, when the house was supposed to be vacant.

    Police arrived and spoke to a 24-year-old woman who said she and her 7-year-old daughter had been living in the house since the beginning of June and rented it from a man who said he was the homeowner. The woman told police she agreed to pay $400 a month to rent the house until the foreclosure process was finished. To date, she had paid $800 in cash to stay in the house.

    Christian said the city gave the woman 30 days to look for other living arrangements.

    “My heart broke; I did not feel it was her fault at all,” Christian said. “She is the victim of fraud and I wasn’t going to put her and her daughter on the street.” The woman now has a new house lined up, in a different city, and will be out by Sept. 1, according to Christian.

    Police Chief Ray Watters said his department has identified the suspect who fraudulently rented the house to the woman, adding that “we are looking into charges at this time and cannot release his name.”

    According to the police report, the suspect’s name was checked and there is no record of him owning the Pagel Avenue house or being affiliated with it in any way. Christian said there are no set plans with the house, as the city remedies the scam incident.

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