BRENTWOOD (CBS 5) - A Contra Costa County man faces nine felony counts ranging from grand theft to perjury and burglary in what prosecutors call a sophisticated foreclosure rental scam.
"They are claiming ownership and title over properties they have no ownership right over. And then they are renting them out and basically posting an ad on craigslist," said Ken McCormick, Deputy District Attorney in Contra Costa County. "Innocent people are paying $2,000-$6,000 to rent the properties."
The homes in question are in Brentwood, Antioch, Walnut Creek and Hercules. Prosecutors said Alfonso Salazar, 62, claimed the bank owned properties were owned by National Alliance of Homeowners for Justice - that's a Southern California Company. Prosecutors think he may have made about $80,000-$90,000 since October.
KCBS' Dave Padilla Reports:
Salazar was a licensed real estate agent until 2011 and worked for Countrywide Mortgage.
Some of the homes were rented through Craigslist, but Roberto Leon found his rental home through a friend. The day he moved in he says something seemed wrong.
"It was a Monday and the locks were changed. Alfonso said, 'Oh, maybe one of our crew members got mixed up.' So they came and opened the door for us."
The next day he almost got arrested when a real estate agent realized Leon's family was in the home. Police relented when they saw the lease that the family had signed.
The DA's office believes there could be more evictions in the coming month as banks become aware of these unsuspecting renters.
Leon said he's given about $5,000 to Salazar and is trying to save money so the family can move out.
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