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Police Warn Of Rental Scam After Woman Bilked For Thousands

MIAMI LAKES(CBS4)---A former real estate broker has been busted for allegedly taking three months worth of rent from an unsuspecting victim and then pocketing two months of that rent.

The arrest of former broker, 31-year-old Adolfo David Vega of Miami Lakes, has prompted a consumer alert from Miami-Dade Police who said there may have been other victims.

"I'm just glad that the cops caught him," said Krystle, a victim who did not want to show all of her face or give her last name.

The 26-year-old victim told CBS4's Peter D'Oench, "I'm upset about this, that he's around here stealing money from people that work for their money. And he showed no remorse at all."

"Currently right now I am not working. Right now I live with my Mom," a smiling Vega appeared in Bond court, telling the Judge.

Vega is charged with a scheme to defraud and grand theft of $2300.

State records show that his license as a real estate broker expired on March 31st.

Police said it all started in January when Vega advertised a Miami Lakes apartment for rent on the internet. Krystle says she saw the ad on Craigslist.

"I was on the internet looking for a new place to live on Craigslist and saw the apartment I liked," she said.

The apartment had a lockbox on the front door, but as a licensed broker, Vega was able to get the combination for the lockbox by checking MLS, the Multiple Listing Service that brokers have access to.

Then Krystle said he gave her the combination and told her to check the apartment by herself.

"That should have been a red flag, a warning sign that she was told to check the apartment by herself," said Miami-Dade Police detective Javier Baez.

"He told me he needed 1st and last months rent and a month's rent for security because that's what the landlord required," said Krystle.

She said she paid the money in February in order to move in by April 1st. Coincidentally, that was one day after Vega's license expired.

Then she received a call.

"By April 3rd I got a call from the landlord letting me know he did not get the 1st and last month's rent and a deposit and I wasn't able to move in," said Krystle.

She later learned that the landlord was given $1150, one month's rent and she was allowed to move in to her apartment.

"Each month, I pay a little extra to make up for the deposit money that was not paid," Krystle said.

Miami-Dade Police were called and Vega was charged. Grand theft of $2300 is a 3rd degree felony, according to the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office, and can mean a maximum term of up to five years in prison.

Detective Baez said consumers have to be careful.

"Never pay cash to these realtors. You can always pay the company that they are working for. In addition if you want to contact the Association where you live, you can check the names on the list for the Realtor and the agency," said Baez.

Baez also said to check for the companies licenses.

"Always be cautious. There are people out there with schemes to defraud and you need to protect yourself. You can also check out companies on-line through," said Baez.

Krystle also had words of advice for consumers.

"Double check people's credentials I guess to make sure that they are who they say they are and be careful who you work with and do business with. You never know. There may be someone who is going to take your money," said Krystle.

According to a Police report obtained by CBS4, Vega admitted that keeping the money was a mistake and he said he was embarrassed for having done that.

Krsytle said she would be in court for a hearing about this case on June 14th and she hoped she would get all of the $2300 back.

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