1 Fort Lauderdale
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It’s an old scam with a twist that netted a Shenandoah woman $8,000 — but landed her jail.
Four times in the month of February, police say, Julia Rosario lured potential renters into leasing a Little Havana apartment, then left the would-be tenants $2,000 short and with nowhere to live after someone using her cellphone claimed she had died.
“The defendant engaged in a systematic pattern of conduct to defraud these and multiple other victims of money by posing as another person, claiming to be the property owner and requesting cash deposits…” the arresting officer wrote in Rosario’s arrest affidavit.
Police said the scam was a relatively simple one: Rosario, 55, advertised a rental property at 529 SW 23rd Pl., on the property site Zillow.com. When potential tenants called her number, a meeting was set up at the property. Each of the four times in February the tenants came by, police said, Rosario would claim an old woman packing in the home was a tenant whose lease had expired.
It turned out to be her mom.
In the first incident on Feb. 5, police said Rosario asked for a $1,900 security deposit and a $100 application fee. The next day, police said, she met her victim at a McDonald’s restaurant on Northwest Seventh Street and the lease was signed after the tenant handed over four blank money orders.
Then, almost a month later, shortly before the tenant was to move in, the victim received a text from Rosario’s phone by someone claiming to be her husband, who said his wife had been killed in a fatal traffic accident and the agreement was canceled.
Similar arrangements were made with potential tenants on Feb. 14, Feb. 16 and Feb. 19.
Rosario was busted on March 3 when one of the victims went to the home, found that it was unoccupied and had notes on the door from others who had been fleeced the same amount of money and in similar patterns.
When Roario was picked up by economic crimes detectives in Miami on Thursday she claimed she had lived at the property with her mother and two children, but had to move out because she lost her job.
She was charged with four counts of organized fraud and four counts of grand theft and booked into the Turner Guilford Knight correctional center. Her bond has been set at $65,000.