Florida man convicted for renting out homes he didn’t own

Chris McDonald found guilty of organized fraud, grand theft

A man in Florida was found guilty for renting out houses he didn't own without the consent of home's owners, according to a press release from the office of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.

A Tampa jury found Chris McDonald, 47, of Plant City guilty on one count of organized fraud and three counts of grand theft over $100,000.

McDonald was arrested for his role in a real estate scam that spanned at least five Florida counties over the past three years.

McDonald found properties that were for sale, in default or in some stage of foreclosure. He then accessed the vacant residences, changed the locks and subsequently rented out the properties without the knowledge or consent of the property owners, Bondi's office said. 

The tenants were led to believe that they were participating in a “lease to own” program. The tenats would make a deposit, move in to the property, and begin making monthly payments to McDonald.

But when the rightuful property owners became aware of the unauthorized tenants, they contacted law enforcement to have the renters removed.

“This man exploited distressed homeowners and defrauded Floridians seeking homes, and my Office of Statewide Prosecution has ensured that he has been held accountable for these crimes,” stated Bondi.

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