Real Estate Scam Artists Picked the Wrong Mom

Real estate agents who defrauded a single mom trying to rent a home in a good school district thought they had it all figured out. They wouldn’t tell the woman the house they would rent her was in foreclosure; they would make her thing she is getting a good deal, offer her a detailed lease, get first month’s rent and a deposit, and then bail with the money – leaving her and her son in a real estate mess. The problem is they picked the wrong mom.

Linda Smith thought she had found the perfect house for rent on Craigslist. It was in a good Carlsbad neighborhood on Adams Street, there was a good school for her son, and the price was excellent. Because the competition for the house seemed fierce, she was aggressive in pursuing the deal, withdrawing most of her savings to apply to first month’s rent and a security deposit. When she was selected, the listing agents went over the lease with her in detail then gave her three sets of keys. She was ecstatic.

There was a problem though: the house was in foreclosure. When she learned this she was devastated and immediately called the police to file a report. But police were not optimistic she would see her money again. No doubt very angry, Ms. Smith when back on Craigslist and found a similar looking ad to the one she responded, but for a different house. She posted a warning listing on Craigslist, and was contacted by another prospective renter/victim, who was going to meet the same agents at a different house. Ms. Smith called the police, who showed up at the meeting instead. Sure enough, it was the same real estate agents who defrauded Ms. Smith. Police arrested both of the men, who are now being prosecuted, and face up to eight years in prison.

We applaud Ms. Smith for being proactive and essentially solving her own crime. No doubt her efforts prevented other unsuspecting renters from being victimized in this difficult real estate market.

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