He posted an ad for a rental unit. Cops say he had no intention of handing over the keys

James Stote posted an ad on Craigslist offering up a Davie rental unit.

At least three people answered the ad, met with Stote and agreed to rent the unit, police said.

The problem, according to police: Stote took the money from the potential renters, but never handed over the keys.

Now Stote, who was on probation for a 2014 case after pleading guilty to fraudulently buying a truck under someone else’s name, is facing charges including grand theft, violating probation and committing fraud. He is being held in Joseph V. Conte Facility with no bond.

Police say there may be more victims.

“We are hoping that other victims may come forward if they were victimized by this individual or his organization,” police say.

Especially concerning, police say: Stote is listed as the CEO for an organization called Improving Homes for Disabled Veterans (formerly known as Homes for Heroes Project). According to the website, the organization helps veterans make modifications to their homes.

According to an Oct. 8 arrest report, Stote, 52, listed a rental property at 8970 N. Lake Park Circle in August. Stote met with at least three potential renters on different dates in August, police said.

“Each of the victims showed interest in the property, signed a lease agreement, to take possession of the residence effective Sept. 1, 2018,” an officer wrote in the arrest report. “The victims also gave security deposits for the rental of the aforementioned property.”

Police said one of the victims handed over $3,500 in cash, another gave a cashier’s check valued at $3,600 and the third gave a cashier’s check for $5,700.

For weeks, the victims tried to move in, but Stote kept postponing the date, saying that he was getting the place renovated.

“Each victim made several attempts to meet and communicate with the defendant,” the officer wrote in the report. “The defendant has made no attempt to meet, communicate or reimburse the victims.”

This isn’t the first time Stote has been in trouble with the law, court record shows.

In 2017, Stote was arrested on a warrant for a 2014 case where police say he used someone else’s name and identification to buy a truck.

According to the arrest report, Stote worked as a car salesman at Arrigo Dodge Sawgrass when he signed someone else’s name to buy a 2012 Dodge Ram valued at $26,463.49.

In July, Stote pleaded guilty, signed a plea agreement and was placed on probation for 12 months.

In 2013, Stote was charged with organized fraud of $50,000 or more by Miami Gardens police. Adjudication was withheld, which means he doesn’t have a conviction on his record, and he was given probation.

Anyone with information is asked to call Broward Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS (8477).