Saturday, April 17, 2010

California Lawmaker Moves To Elevate Crime Of Landlord Impersonation To Felony Grand Theft

The San Francisco Chronicle reports:
  • The glut of vacant foreclosed homes has inspired con artists to concoct a new scam: posing as landlords to swindle prospective tenants out of rent and deposit money. Cases of landlord impersonation have jumped throughout California in the past couple of years, according to sheriffs and legal aid clinics.

  • "With a lot of foreclosures, the property sits empty for a long period of time," said Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco. "What we're finding is that scam artists will come in, change the locks and advertise on Craigslist at a very enticing price. They tell people, if you want to get this deal you need to come back soon with cash for the deposit. People give them the money, sign a lease, get keys and a couple of days later the legitimate owner (an agent for the bank) comes and says, 'What are you doing here?' Then they're out whatever cash they've laid out."

  • Ma is co-sponsoring a bill, AB1800, that would elevate the crime of landlord impersonation to felony grand theft, instead of its current classification as a misdemeanor.

For more, see More scam artists posing as landlords.