Alleged Thieves May Have Collected Rent on Someone Else's Foreclosure


Alleged thieves apparently broke in to a foreclosure home in north St. Louis, changed the locks so that they had keys to the house, forged ownership papers, and then rented the place out to an unsuspecting family. Police have charged suspects Winston Clay and Todd Edwards with forgery and stealing.

Renter Bertha Williams thought the rental home "was legit" because Clay and Edwards had keys to the front door. Plus they advertised and listed it for rent at $650/month. For six months Clay and Edwards collected the rent -- nearly $4,000 in all -- until the real owner, Tracy Franklin, who had been living out of town during the foreclosure process, checked on the house (pictured above) while back in St. Louis, reported local TV station KMOV.

Williams and co-renter Dwayne Ellis will have to find another place to live, while Clay makes another visit to the police station. AOL Real Estate found that Clay has other arrests under his belt during this past 12 months, including possession of drug paraphernelia, domestic assault and failure to register a vehicle.

Ellis says that, the next time, he and Williams will do research on the Internet to determine if the owners are who they say they are.

In another foreclosure-related case, a woman in Virginia was also too trusting of her landlord who apparently leased to her a home that was already in foreclosure. Courtney Gourgoulianis and her two-year-old daughter were evicted from their rental house in Virginia Beach on Monday, only days after moving in, reported WTKR in Norfolk, Va. The owner of the house hasn't been around and the leasing agency is not getting back to her.

"I shouldn't have to suffer the consequences of someone else's crap," says Gourgoulianis. And she's right. Renters of foreclosures do have some legal rights against eviction due to foreclosure.

But it's even better to be proactive by researching the landlord. Check county property or tax assessor websites to find out who the owner of a home really and be forthright enough to ask to see recent mortgage statements.

For more tips, see "Foreclosure Eviction: What It Means for Renters" or "What Happens If Your Landlord Is Foreclosed On."