They move into a vacant home with a fake lease from a non-existent landlord, change the locks, and when they are discovered, they move out and hand over the keys in exchange for thousands of dollars they claimed to pay for rent and security deposit, investigators said.
Angela Pitter, 43, was arrested Thursday almost a year after police found her and two other people living in a house in the 6600 block of Plantation Road in Plantation.
At first, she appeared to be an unwitting resident who gave $5,000 for rent and security deposit to a landlord who made off with the money, police said.
She claimed she found the house for rent on Craigslist, but investigators said the house had not been posted online until three days after she moved in.
The house was owned by a bank in New York and managed by a Florida real estate brokerage.
While detectives were following paper trails, fake names, and false leads, the girlfriend of Pitter’s ex-husband called them to say Pitter is one of several people who “do this for a living.”
According to the arrest report, the woman said Pitter and her co-conspirators will occupy vacant homes owned by banks and make a deal to vacate the home if the bank reimburses them for their "monetary loss."
Some lenders ultimately hand over the “cash for keys” while others pursue the lengthier eviction route.
Pitter was given $3,000 as reimbursement toward the $5,000 rent and security deposit she claimed she paid for the Plantation house, the report stated.
One of the people living in the Plantation home with Pitter was 45-year-old Rodney Robillard, police said.
Investigators learned he has done the same thing before with houses and apartments in Tamarac, Lauderdale Lakes, Lauderhill and Sunrise, court records show.
In one Tamarac case, a community representative told investigators Robillard was running drugs and prostitution out of a vacant house. A stake-out was conducted and several arrests were made.
Robillard was also identified as the account holder for a RING doorbell camera installed at the Plantation house.
Robillard, Pitter and Jamale Long, 38, are all charged with a scheme to defraud, grand theft, and criminal use of personal identification. All have been released from the Broward County Jail on bond, records show.
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