Phony Realtors Renting Foreclosed Homes

With more than 9,000 foreclosed homes in the area, scammers have plenty to choose from

By Willard Shepard and Todd Wright
|  Tuesday, May 17, 2011  |  Updated 7:32 PM EDT
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A growing trend has cops warning renters not to believe every realtor you see.

A growing trend has cops warning renters not to believe every realtor you see.

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They look the part. They sound the part and they even have the keys to what looks like a dream home.

Only what these South Florida scammers are offering is a nightmare for some renters.

"I was trusting," said Tomas Seijos, who rented a Miami-Dade home from a person he thought was a real estate agent. "Yes, he had on a shirt, a tie, a suit. A clean cut, good looking fella."

That man, John Ingar, was actually a crook running a scam that is becoming more and more prevalent in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, police said, He was arrested in April and charged with grand theft and practicing realty without a license.

Ingar and others like him are researching foreclosed homes, changing the locks and then pretending to be the representatives of the owners to get people's rent. Some are using the Internet to find potential renters.

There are more than 9,000 foreclosed properties in South Florida, giving phony realtors quite a selection to scam from.

"These criminals are finding and scouting these foreclosed properties and then running scams out of the rentals of these properties," Det. Chris Hodges of the Miami-Dade Police said.

Seijos told police he gave Ingar $3,300 to move into a vacant townhouse. Now that money is gone.

The homeowner is also out money. The real homeowners of Seijos' rental had no clue what was going on until they drove by and noticed that someone was living in the house.

The owner agreed to let Seijos continue to rent the place despite the criminal confusion.

"Do not fall for this. Do not fall for it," Seijos said. "Even if they show you an ID. It could be a phony one."

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