In a quest to find lodging, one homeless man decided to skip homeownership altogether and go straight to being landlord. Problem is, he still didn’t own any property.
Eric Sisson, a homeless man living in Volusia County, Florida, is facing charges after allegedly raising $1,375 by renting out a vacant foreclosed home in Ormond Beach he didn’t own via Craigslist, MyFoxOrlando reports (h/t The Daily Mail). Sisson told a Daytona woman who responded to his Craigslist ad to take a tour of the unlocked house before collecting her down payment. Her father eventually reported Sisson to the Sheriff’s office who quickly learned the owner of the house did not know Sisson and that he wasn't authorized to rent out the property.
Sisson is just one of many scam artists to use a vacant property to operate a rental scheme. Some advocates say those vacant properties should be put to legitimate use instead to help homeless people like Sisson. In fact, many activists argue that homeless people should be allowed to live in the glut of houses that have been abandoned due to the foreclosure crisis. There are about 15 million more vacant homes than the estimated 3.5 million homeless people living in the U.S., according to Amnesty USA.
Rather than looking for a place to live, it seems that Craigslist scammers across the country are trying to make a quick buck by renting out homes they don't actually own. Last month, for example, a Brockport, New York, couple discovered the house they’d recently put up for sale had been posted as a rental on Craigslist, ABC 13 reports. Similarly, there’s been a rash of scammers posting rental properties at unrealistically low rates in Indiana, FOX 59 reports. Many of the homes listed even have tenants already living in them.
But some scammers are bold enough to use in-person meetings instead of the internet to rent out homes they don't own, including Yoandry Leiva of Naples, Florida, who now faces jail time. Another Florida man raised $250,000 by hosting entire open houses in vacant homes he didn’t own, even hiring employees for his fake real estate business.