Renter Scams Running Amok in Los Angeles County

By Dennis J. Freeman

Home renters beware. The scam artists are out there. You won’t know what they look like, but they’re somewhere in your neighborhood.  They’re lurking about in your local community seeking whom they can devour with their deceitful tactics, flattering lies and fraudulent practices.

They don’t care about you forking over your entire savings account to them as you desperately look to buy a piece of the American dream in trying to buy a home.

They are not interested in the fact that the rainy day fund you have set aside for your family is now going into their hands while they knowingly rip you off. Nor are they sympathetic to you depleting all of your hard earned money that you worked your entire life to build.

They steal your money. They kill people’s dreams. And sometimes they have the potential to destroy lives with their undercover illegal schemes to defraud folks.

The avalanche of deception presented by these housing scams artists come in many forms. They may differ in their presentation, but the underlying bottom line to all the madness is to separate you from your money.  Jane was one of those victims. A teacher in Los Angeles County, Jane, who asked that her real name not be revealed under the condition of anonymity, went looking for a home last year.

After going through a myriad of resources, Jane found Capital Home Placement Center in El Monte. Dealing the fact she that she was working on cleaning up her credit to buy a home, Jane said she and her husband thought it a good idea to rent a home for a year or two before they could get in position to make a home purchase. They found Capital Home Placement Center on the Internet.

They liked what they read and spoke with a representative before heading to the El Monte office to work out details. They were asked to give personal information such as social security number even though they were told that there wouldn’t any credit check provided by the company. The couple, who has three children, was then told that by forking a couple hundred bucks they would be guaranteed to find a place or their money would be refunded.

After handing over the money, Jane and her husband were then told that their deposit would go on one rental background check that would cover any number of times they applied to rent a place. They were given a list of 10 homes to apply for. It turns out that list provided by Capital Home Placement Center was bunk. Up on making contact with the various property owners, Jane said she was told by a few of them that they didn’t know anything about Capital Home Placement Center.

Another flag went up for Jane when she discovered the place listing she was given to apply to were identical to another rental agency that provided housing and rental listings for free. Sensing a con job, Jane and her husband demanded a refund from Capital Home Placement Center, which went to no avail.  

Jane said she and her husband considered filing a police report against the company for fraudulently misleading consumers after searching the Internet and finding out that the company has had numerous complaints about its way of business. But after eventually finding a home, Jane decided to let sleeping dogs lay and put filing the police report on the back burner.

Despite that, Jane is still upset about how Capital Home Placement Center conducts its business. There are several complaints against this company on the Internet.  Jane believes there should be some kind of legal and criminal ramifications dealt to the individuals that run Capital Home Placement Center and other places like it.   

“They should be put out of business,” Jane said. “The one thing I noticed was that everyone who was in there were young families like ours. They weren’t just random people. They were young families looking for homes for themselves and their children. Housing scams are real. The homes they sent us to the owners were unaware. It seemed like they were randomly picking homes that other people had listed and they were adding them to their list.

“We gave them a lot of money…and we got nothing.  Then they didn’t want to return our money. They didn’t want to take out calls. I was angry. I was angry and frustrated because I needed a place to live. I think it’s illegal what they’re doing. It has to be some type of law that they’re breaking. If there isn’t, if they aren’t breaking the law then there should be a law that says they can’t do that, especially when people are trusting them for a service like your home. That’s crazy.”

 One thing Jane has vowed to do after her housing scam experience is to not ever do business again with a service like Capital Home Placement Center.

“I will get in my car, drive around and find my own home,” Jane said. “I will never trust those services ever again. I will never do that again.”

 Jane isn’t the only victim to feel the sting of a housing scam. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of Los Angeles County residents who have been hit by the scam bug while looking for a place to live, be it trying to rent or buy. The predators are out there and they are using creative ways to steal your money. Mailing, false advertisements, rental and housing listings, leaving fake leaflets and flyers in businesses and even cold calling are just some of the ways scammers are targeting to get money out of people.

 Housing scams has gotten so big in magnitude that even the Los Angeles County Assessor office has gotten involved. Los Angeles County Assessor Rick Auerbach knows all about the numerous scams confronting home and property owners in the county. Auerbach has posted news releases and announcements for consumers to be aware and more watchful of scams, even going so far as writing an op-ed piece in a local publication about the dangers of these misleading acts.

If you have a question about the legitimacy of a business or company, contact the Better Business Bureau for more information.

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