Holding a House Ransom or Caught in a Craigslist Scam?

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SACRAMENTO -- Holding a house for ransom or caught in a Craigslist scam? In this story, it may be both. A new owner and a tenant come face-to-face both fighting to keep a roof over their heads.

Either way two people were out a of a place to live Wednesday night.

Diana Perparos is supposed to close Thursday on a bank-owned home on Leader Avenue in Sacramento. A home that was supposed to be vacant.

But roommates Kiwanis Moody and Javier Corella moved in with their dogs two weeks ago.

“We met the guy on Craigslist, he said he owned the house and worked for some real estate company,” said Moody.

The American River College students say they paid $2,900 in first and last month's rent to a man who showed them the house.

“When he opened the door we were like this is his house, we didn’t think nothing of it,” said Moody.

Perparos is supposed to do the final walk through of her home Thursday. So the bank paid the roommates $2,000 to move out Thursday. That’s a great deal for the two if they made the whole story up, but if they really did pay the money they are now out $900.

“I don’t want money, if you guys can set me up with an apartment, I can pay the rent,” said Moody.

The situation bears the hallmarks of two real estate scams that are on law enforcement’s radar.

One type -- the kind Kiwanis says he’s a victim of -- is scammers creating fake listing for rentals that are either non-existent, unavailable, or no theirs to rent. The scammers then get the tenant's money and the tenant is clueless until the real property owners come calling.

The second type of scam is called cash-for-keys, also known as professional squatters. These are people who break into homes and take advantage of tenant’s rights laws, refusing to leave unless they are paid, hoping the seller will find it easier and cheaper to pay them than evict them.

After talking with Moody, Perparos is still not sure which situation she has on her hands. She also has no idea what condition her home will be in. She does know, all of the sudden, she’s not so excited for her moving day.

“It’s taken away the joy,” said Perparos.

The same goes for these guys who said they still needed to figure out where they’ll live now.

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