MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (FOX 5 DC) - Montgomery County Police are still searching for a woman they say fraudulently rented out apartments in two separate incidents in July.
The investigation began on July 12 when the property manager of an apartment building on the 1900 block of East-West Highway reported a woman tried to fraudulently rent an apartment to a male victim.
Officials say he paid a security deposit and rental fees before being given a key, he later discovered it was fraud.
Police say a similar situation was reported at the same apartment complex July 15th involving another victim looking for apartment online.
Officials said the suspect told a female victim she was the property manager and gave her a tour of apartments for lease.
They say after the victim signed a lease and paid rental fees; she was given a key to an apartment but when she tried to move in the key did not work.
FOX 5 DC’s Perris Jones asked Montgomery County Police officials how the suspect had access to the apartment complex to commit the alleged acts of fraud.
Shiera Goff, Director of Public Information for Montgomery County Police, said it’s something police are still trying to find out.
"Hopefully once we are able to get this person into custody, we’ll be able to talk to this person and figure out exactly how it happened."
Matt Losak, Co-Founder and Executive Director for the non-profit Montgomery County Renter’s Alliance, said his heart goes out to the victims, especially in a time where the rental market is tight.
"This is terrible," Losak said. "It is unconscionable for anyone to take advantage of families seeking housing in the middle of a pandemic when there’s such a struggle to find housing, maintain housing."
Losak and Goff say their advice to those looking to rent would be to do your research, go through reputable websites to find apartments, and make sure the person you’re renting from has proof of where they work.
"Rental housing that I know of have rental offices, they have property managers," Losak said. "You should go in and see them in person. You should see that they have a license to rent, you should see their housing is up to code and do a little background before you invest in signing a lease for an apartment complex."
Losak also said another way to verify if the person you’re renting from is legit is to contact your city or county housing department.
Detectives ask anyone who believes they are victims of this crime to contact Montgomery County Police at 240-773-6726.
Anyone who has more information on the suspect is asked to contact Montgomery County Police.