Renter paid 'real estate agent' $7,500 but nothing about her was real

Renter paid ‘real estate agent’ $7,500 but nothing about her was real

(As originally published, Fri, February 4th 2022, 1:51 PM EST)

A man looking for a place to live lost $7,500 to a woman he met on social media and thought was a real estate agent. The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said nothing she told him was true.

And, authorities credit another person with an apparent grudge for helping them close this case of rental fraud.

At the end, deputies arrested 48-year-old Yusleidy Alvarez on charges of organized fraud, grand theft, and the unlicensed practice of real estate sales.

According to her arrest report, the victim told detectives he paid $7,500 to Alvarez, who posed as an actual real estate agent. That money was supposed to be his first and last months’ rent, and security deposit.

He said he found her on Facebook Marketplace and she had him email proof of income. Then, he visited the property in Greenacres where he met Alvarez, but he didn’t know that he was about to become a victim.

According to the PBSO, Alvarez “was pretending to be” another woman, who really was a real estate agent.

The victim said he gave Alvarez $300 to hold the place and that he noticed two people inside the home. He didn’t know they were Alvarez’s ex-boyfriend and her son.

That night, they met again, and he paid the $7,200 balance in cash.

The victim reported he first noticed a problem when he tried to get the utilities turned on. He told the deputy that both FPL and the water department said “he did not have the correct information for the owner of the residence.”

…he did not have the correct information for the owner of the residence.

He tried to reach Alvarez and couldn’t, but then he received a strange call from the same phone number he’d been using to reach her. The man on the other end of the line told him “that he had been scammed by Alvarez.”

that he had been scammed by Alvarez.

He also sent the victim two pictures: one of Alvarez and the other of her driver’s license, so he had her real name.

Plus, that man gave the victim Alvarez’s real phone number. This time, the victim reached her and he said she told him “the property was his and that [the real real estate agent] made that deal.”

the property was his and that [the real real estate agent] made that deal.

That’s when the victim went to a PBSO district office and told a deputy he was a victim of rental fraud.

The deputy took his information and started investigating.

He began by contacting the actual owner of the property.

The deputy wrote the owner “stated she has an agreement with [the actual real estate agent] who is renting her property until the end of January.” As for the property being rented to the victim, the owner stated “she had no knowledge nor did she give permission.”

she had no knowledge nor did she give permission.

Also, her rental agreement with the actual real estate agent did not allow her to sublease. Plus, she did not know anybody named Yusleidy Alvarez.

The deputy showed the owner a picture of the actual real estate agent, and she recognized the woman. Then, he showed her a picture of Alvarez and the owner told him, “she recognized her being at her residence on 12/10/2021 pretending to be the cleaning lady.”

she recognized her being at her residence on 12/10/2021 pretending to be the cleaning lady.

Authorities created two photo lineups for the victim. The first had the real real estate agent, and the victim didn’t recognize her.

But deputies doctored the second lineup.

Renter paid 'real estate agent' $7,500 but nothing about her was real
Yusleidy Alvarez is charged with organized fraud, grand theft, and the unlicensed practice of real estate sales, Feb. 4, 2022. (Palm Beach Co. Sheriff’s Office)

According to the arrest report, “The second photo lineup had the photograph of Alvarez and was modified by Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Forensic Imaging Department since Alvarez has a mole on the right side of her face which would have made it easy to identify her. All the photographs in the photo lineup presented had a mole in the right side of the face just like Alvarez does.”

The second photo lineup had the photograph of Alvarez and was modified by Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Forensic Imaging Department since Alvarez has a mole on the right side of her face which would have made it easy to identify her. All the photographs in the photo lineup presented had a mole in the right side of the face just like Alvarez does.

And the victim was able to ID Alvarez.

Next, the victim met the deputy at the PBSO district office and didn’t recognize a picture of the actual real estate agent but said Alvarez “acted as a Realtor the day that he signed the lease and advised him over the messages that they exchanged that she was a Realtor.”

acted as a Realtor the day that he signed the lease and advised him over the messages that they exchanged that she was a Realtor.

Then, the deputy met up with the actual real estate agent. She told him she was renting the property but had to be away in December and needed someone to watch her belongings.

The report said she admitted giving Alvarez the key to stay there for a few days, but “never gave Alvarez permission to rent her property, sign her name on documents, or act as her on her behalf.”

never gave Alvarez permission to rent her property, sign her name on documents, or act as her on her behalf.

She told the deputy she learned Alvarez had rented the property because the ex-boyfriend called and tipped her off. But she “stated that she was not able to report the incident as she had an active warrant.”

The deputy showed her the victim’s fraudulent lease which had her signature and she stated that “she had never seen the contract and also stated that the signature on the contract was not hers.”

she had never seen the contract and also stated that the signature on the contract was not hers.

Finally, the deputy met with Alvarez’s ex-boyfriend, who had given information on Alvarez to both the victim and the actual real estate agent.

He told the deputy he broke up with Alvarez and made arrangements to get his personal belongings from her home, but on his way there, Alvarez told him to meet her at the property in Greenacres.

When he got there, he saw a strange man he thought was Alvarez’s new boyfriend but turned out to be the victim. The ex-boyfriend said Alvarez told him to go inside with her, and he watched the victim give Alvarez $300. He said he asked about the money and Alvarez told him she was renting the property for the actual real estate agent.

That’s when the ex called the actual real estate agent and tipped her off. She told him Alvarez didn’t have permission to rent her property.

The ex-boyfriend went on to say that the next day, when he was at Alvarez’s real home picking up his belongings, he saw a phone on a nightstand.

The deputy wrote the ex said he looked at the phone, saw the conversation between Alvarez and the victim, and “he immediately called [the victim] and advised him that the agreement he had just made with Alvarez was fraudulent and provided him with her real number so he could attempt and get his money back.”

he immediately called [the victim] and advised him that the agreement he had just made with Alvarez was fraudulent and provided him with her real number so he could attempt and get his money back.

Finally, the deputy found Alvarez did not have a real estate license in Florida.

He wrote that Alvarez admitted to him that she took $7,500 from the victim and signed the lease in the real estate agent section.

She is now out of jail on bond.

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