It's moving day for Matteo and Lorraine Moreno and their four children. However, it's moving day because a scammer targeted them. A month ago, the Morenos answered a Craigslist ad of a home for rent and it could turn into a rent to own. A man they say identified himself as Ethan met them at the door of a home on Gossamer street. Here's where it gets ingenious. Ethan had a lockbox on the door with the key to the property. He said he was representing the bank and the property was in adverse possession. Ethan even had paperwork that focused on adverse possession.
Matteo Moreno said Ethan told him 800 dollars a month with no deposit and no background check. Matteo told me, "We hesitated at first, but it sounded like a good deal. Ethan told us that if we kept the property like it was our own that we didn't a deposit and eventually we might be able to buy this property or another one with a low deposit."
Matteo and Ethan met at a bank to seal the deal with a money order. Fast forward to today and Matteo says he got a call from Ethan saying, "He was concerned about me and my family and that we couldn't be in the house." Matteo says Ethan told him that he'd been arrested and so had another person in the company because they had been renting properties that were vacant and not in foreclosure. Matteo told me, "It's devastating. We have four kids. We changed three different schools for our children. Now we're left without a home. Ethan knew we had four kids. I've giving him every dime I have to move into this house."
I've contacted Colorado Springs Police who will only tell me that this is an open investigation. I'm not revealing Ethan's last name. according to the Morenos or the company name so it won't jeopardize the CSPD investigation. Police will only say there could be more arrests and more victims of this scam.
Now let's talk about Adverse Possession. It's a real estate term that is basically squatters rights. In wild west days, you could squat on someone's property and say it's your own after a certain number of years. Now it's much more complicated and takes a lot longer to claim adverse possession.
Be careful if you are looking at rentals online or anytime. If someone says they are a realtor check out their credentials at your county's association of realtors. You can also look for free at your county's assessor's office to see who actually owns the home before you pay to move in.