Potential renters are being urged to pay attention to details when forking over deposits for property after one couple was swindled out of several hundred dollars recently.
According to reports from the Covington Police Department, a couple leased a home from a man they thought was a real estate agent, giving him $900 before finding out that he had lost his real estate license and the home they were living in wasn’t technically theirs.
On Sept. 10, a real estate agent who is handling properties that have recently been foreclosed on for a well-known bank, went to check on a home on Griffin Lane, and when she arrived, she found the property occupied by a couple who reportedly told her they had leased the home from an agent named Byron Napier.
When officers spoke with the would-be renters, they were allegedly told that they called a number listed on the property and spoke with Napier who reportedly presented himself as the owner of the property. The home was rented by the couple for $900 a month — which included the deposit and first month’s rent. Napier allegedly had told them he would stop by each month to pick up the rent payments and did not have them sign a lease agreement.
The couple was living in the home, thinking they had legitimately rented the property, when they had no right to be there and Napier had fraudulently presented himself as the homeowner.
"We’ve heard about this happening in bigger areas like Atlanta," said Covington Police Detective Daniel Seals. "But this isn’t something that has been happening in Covington."Seals urged potential renters and buyers to double check numbers and listings for sale, rent and lease. The Web site www.atlantamls.com has professional listings to properties for sale, according to Seals, and usually renters advertise in multiple places.
Another key point is the paperwork — or lack of it.
"As anyone who has ever rented an apartment or house knows, there is a lot of paperwork," he said. "There is a paper trail and obviously, if someone doesn’t have anything for you to sign, that should be a red flag that something isn’t right."
Detectives are still trying to ascertain how Napier had a key to the home and hope to ask him when they are able to locate him. The address the "renters" had for him was a P.O. Box in Snellville and the cell phone number prompts callers to leave a message for someone named "Marvin Conyers." Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Byron Napier is asked to contact the CPD at (770) 786-7605 on online at www.covingtonpolice.org. Tips can be given anonymously.
Although there have been no cases like this reported in the county, Newton County Sheriff’s Department deputies spoke with someone who had found a home listed on Craigslist and, when they came to look at the property, met with a man and woman.
The "agents" reportedly told them the home had been on the market for such a short amount of time there wasn’t a key available and they reportedly opened the door with a screwdriver in order to show the property. These people are still being sought as well. Contact the NCSO at (678) 625-1400 or www.newtonsheriffga.org to leave information about this case. Once again, tips can be given anonymously.