JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Two men have been charged in what the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is calling a real estate scam.
O’Neil “Devin” Hyman, 22, and Leo Miller, 54, were arrested and face counts of organized fraud. Hyman also is accused of acting as an unlicensed real estate broker.
Hyman and Miller falsely advertised themselves as representatives of unoccupied homes -- and then rented these homes out to make money, the JSO said.
The actual owners of these properties eventually learned that unknown people had been living in their homes, which led to Hyman and Miller’s arrests.
According to an arrest report, one victim in the Hayden Lakes subdivision in Oceanway lost $2,400.
The warrant also states the two men swindled a woman who signed a phony lease thinking she was renting a home near the Duval/Nassau County line. Investigators say she paid the men $4,000. Little did she know, the home was owned by HUD and maintained by JV Property Management.
JSO investigators said several people were victimized in this fraud case. Authorities in the Economic Crimes Unit have reason to believe there may be more victims of this scam that may not be aware at this time.
If you believe you were duped by Hyman or Miller, or had previously tried to rent property from them, you’re asked to call JSO officials at 904-630-0500.
So, what do you do as a prospective renter, knowing that scams like this one exist? JSO investigators said they’d like to remind prospective renters of some common red flags that might indicate that an offer is too good to be true.
· The residence is dirty, needs repair or has signs of forced entry.
· The request of a deposit without seeing the home.
· The landlord only accepts cash, money orders, or asks that you wire money.
Some helpful recommendations prior to renting property would be:
· If someone claims he or she is representing the bank or estate, verify with the bank or executor of estate that it’s indeed a rental.
· Check the company with the Department of Business and Professional Resources and verify real estate licenses by clicking or tapping here.
· Check prices in the area. If your price is well below market value, you may need to look into it further.