March 18, 2012 My girlfriend and I were couch-surfing from the valley to long beach, but we had money to get a place. We called a lot of Craigslist ads and found one for $650 plus $350 deposit total $1000 to move in. We made an appointment that next day on a Sunday to come see the place in Jefferson Park LA at noon. We took a bus, a train and another bus and were a little late. A young 20 something African American came to meet us at the front door. We went to the 6th floor and he took us to an apartment that didn’t match the ads description, but it was still nice. Another black male in his early 40’s was still occupying the room. They claimed he was moving by end of March. My gf and I were so desperate for a place with our bad credit and no job income verification we were excited this place wasn’t checking for that stuff. The supposed agent told us some others were interested in it as well. So we made them a offer to pay two months rent up front plus deposit total of $1650.00 cash on the spot. He counted the money and wrote us a receipt. A few days later my gf met up with a black woman claiming her name was Michelle Owens to give us our rental agreement. My gf said she looked like she was in her 30’s and kind of like Beyonce. She said they would paint the walls any color we want and asked if we wanted to change the color. We chose Gingery. She said the place would be ready to move in by March 29th and that we could meet up with her there at the apartment building to get our key and move in. On the rental agreement the website on it didn’t work. Also the address to pay rent wasn’t the same as the office/apartment we just went to. Another fishy part was the day we saw the place, we never went into the leasing office. The first male, claiming to be Mike Peters, says he’s an agent and has never been to the building before. The security guard didn’t know who he was either when we first arrived and I told him we were there to see apartments.
Yesterday I went to the apartment building to get our keys to move in and the leasing office tells me I’ve been scammed. The people we met with are not from the property management and that I am the 7th victim of this insidious operation. Even after knowing the fishy details I suspected the place of being “unprofessional” my heart sunk. I didn’t panic nor cry or show any sign of distress. I spent the next few hours going through security camera footage on the first and sixth floor at the time we were there. I went back to malo with two photos of the culprit walking with us and felt a little disbelief.
My gf and I have been jobless and kind of homeless but keeping our head above water thanks to the Malo house, Linda Dou and Ivan and her parents since November 2011 when I moved back to LA. With the premiere of my first movie the very next day, and this entire ordeal I don’t know how to feel. I’m excited about the movie, but I’m super bummed and hurt about losing the money and we still have no place to live.
If you see this man while apartment hunting on Craigslist.org will you please notify the police at 213-485-2582 or 911 so they can detain him. Do not pay them anything. Take a video or camera footage if you can of the culprits. My fiance’ and I have been videotaping all of our apartment hunting appointments ever since.
The 40 something black male who lived in the apartment being shown is Brian Crouch. He has been arrested. Michelle Owens and Mike Peters (picture shown) are still at large.