Hialeah police say Kenia Robles, 38, is the mastermind behind a rental scheme that lasted from October 2020 to May 2021.
Thursday morning, she faced a judge for some 70 counts.
“You’re charged with organized fraud, depositing worthless checks, unlawful use of a communications device, theft from elderly,” said the presiding judge during Robles’ first court appearance in Miami Dade County.
Hialeah police say they have been working this case for two months before making the arrest. They also say she has an active warrant out of Merion County for a similar scam.
“She took advantage of several victims who were suffering through the pandemic,” said Sgt. Yoshua Garfinkel with the Hialeah Police Department. “They are down trodden, they were having financial difficulties, a lot of them needed a suitable place to reside as fast as possible.”
Police have found 19 victims and believe she scammed about $20,000 from them. NBC 6 reached out to an attorney representing Robles, but have not received a comment back yet.
"She reached out to them and said, ‘Hey pay me through Zelle. Give me $1000, $2000, $3000 via Zelle.’ And then on Monday or whatever day she coordinated with them to move into such and such apartment,” said Garfinkel.
“Well, when the victims arrived at the apartment, low and behold, they discovered the apartments were actually occupied with ligitimate victims [sic] inside."
NBC 6 spoke to an owner of one the properties who says he doesn’t know Robles, but believes she must have copy and pasted his legitimate rental posting and put her contact information in another listing.
Hialeah police are now sending a message out to the public to prevent any more people from falling victim.
“The most important thing to do before you send any money is to go to the actual apartment,” said Garfinkel. “Inspect it and make sure the apartment is available to move in and available to be rented.”