Women tricked out of rent deposits by fake landlord

PASADENA, Texas – Two hardworking, single mothers lost big money in a house rental scam on Craigslist.

Victims said a man posing as a landlord opened the front door, knew the burglar alarm code, showed them around a two-bedroom house in Pasadena and offered them an incredible deal.

"Two baths, big back yard, patio, Very nice for a small family trying to start out," victim Lyndsay Poe said.

When asked how good the deal was, Poe said it was "too good to be true."

The fake landlord took $1,450 from Poe, passing the home off as his own.

The same fake landlord took Jessica Ayala for $1,600, wiping out her entire savings account. Ayala said he promised to rent her the home for $800 a month and then vanished without a trace.

"I'm angry and I'm sad and I don't have any Christmas money," Ayala said. "After he took my money, I told him straight out, 'I don't have any more money.' And he said, 'Oh, you deserve this. You're a hard-working mom.' He just lied to me."

Roger Parks, the actual owner of the property on Albemarle Drive in Pasadena, appears to be a victim as well. He said the same man conned him, offering to buy his house for five thousand dollars more than he was asking. Parks agreed to leave the house open for him for several days, so the con artist could show his family the place.

"He said, 'My grandfather is coming over. They need to look at it, but it's a done deal,'" Parks said. "I said, 'I can leave the back door open for a day or two.'"

The fake landlord is described as a 28- to 30-year-old African American man, well-dressed, with a sharp, diamond-shaped face and a goatee.

As of late Monday, at least four good Samaritans had contacted Channel 2 Investigates wanting to give both money and Christmas presents to the families of the two women who were ripped off.

Martin Fuentes is a rescue supervisor in the oil patch and is one of the people who has stepped forward to help Jessica Ayala.

"It touched my heart, it did," Martin said. "I'd like to give her $200 today. That's what's in my heart, so that's what I want to do."