Housing scam: Man rents home he didn't own

PORTERVILLE, Calif.

Porterville Police say Scott Crowder pretended to own a home that belonged to his father, who moved out after going into foreclosure.

Investigators say Crowder listed the home for rent in a craigslist ad. It even claims credit is not a problem because quote, "I am one that understands bad things happen to good people." One woman liked what she saw.

"She paid him a thousand dollars cash and he gave her a set of keys to come back later to find that she had fallen victim to a fraud," said Sgt. Rick Carrillo. "The keys didn't work, and she found out the home was in foreclosure."

Sergeant Rick Carillo says the investigation led to a second victim who paid about three-thousand dollars and also received fake keys. "It's very difficult when you have innocent victims that are taken like they have been in this case, looking for one of the biggest necessities of our world, a home to live in and you have people such as Scott Crowder that are taking advantage of the situation."

Officers are now searching for Crowder, but he's not the only one accused in this type of scam.

The Central California Better Business Bureau says it's seeing an increase in these cases because the economy is driving people out of their homes.

Mollie Ailene told Action News, "So you have people who are foreign to renting in the industry and they're eager to find a nice home, and they're eager to find it at a low cost to them."

Ailene says it's important to meet with potential landlords in person, get everything in writing, and try to get a tour of the property. You can also call the BBB.

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