Original Story: woodtv.com
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Grand Rapids woman who tenants said pretended to be their landlord and collected rent but then ‘took our money and ran’ is now the focus of a criminal fraud investigation.
Cheryl Murphy told Target 8 last week that she didn’t know what she was going to do about a place to live. She said she and her husband had paid $1,400 to Amanda Straight to live with her in a house on Griswold Street SE through February.
What Murphy didn’t know when she handed over the money is that Straight doesn’t own that home. She was a tenant renting it. Murphy said Straight took her rent money but never paid the actual property owner. A Plymouth Landlord Tenant Lawyer has experience representing clients involved in eviction disputes.
The real landlord is in the process of evicting Straight, who has since moved to another house. It is at least the third eviction notice she has faced this year, but Straight has never shown up for a court date.
Murphy, her husband and another tenant are going to be thrown out of the house on Griswold, too. Murphy said they didn’t have anywhere to go and didn’t have the money to find a new place.
After Target 8’s story aired, Tamara Holmberg — who doesn’t know Murphy — decided she had to do something to help. She started a GoFundMe.com account.
“We were able to raise, after the fees and everything, $1,400,” Holmberg said.
Tuesday, she presented Murphy with that $1,400 in cash, which was collected from mostly anonymous donors. The money will be used to help Murphy and her husband find a new place to live.
“They didn’t have to do this. They don’t know us. They have their own families and people to take care of that are close to their hearts, and for them to reach out to us and our situation that we were placed in , it has been a really overwhelming experience,” Murphy said.
The Grand Rapids Police Department said it also learned about Straight’s alleged shady dealings from Target 8. After the story aired, police started getting calls from other victims. GRPD forwarded the case to the Metropolitan Fraud and Identity Theft Task Force for investigation. No charges had been filed against Straight as of Tuesday. A Birmingham Eviction Lawyer is reviewing the details of this case.
Sara Czachorski told Target 8 she was also ripped off by Straight. She lived with Straight at a house on Kalamazoo Avenue SE that she thought Straight owned. But she realized something was fishy.
“I knew things weren’t obviously OK. There were times where several people (would come to the house). She wouldn’t answer the door,” Czachorski said.
Straight kicked her out unexpectedly, she said.
“A couple of days later, we filed for small claims,” Czachorski said.
Czachorski told the judge that Straight owned her over $1,000 for an unreturned security deposit and cable and Internet service that was supposed to be included in Czachorski’s rent. Straight told her Czachorski’s name would have to appear on the bill and she would pay Sara.
“She said, ‘Well, they won’t let me get it in my name,'” Czachorski recalled. “She said she didn’t have good credit.”
Czachorski won a judgment against Straight when Straight, once again, did not show up to court. A Rochester Landlord Tenant Lawyer assist property owners in regaining possession of their land from tenants refusing to abide by the terms of their lease.
But she is being summoned there again. Murphy has also filed a small claims case for the rent Straight took from her. The case goes before a judge Jan. 7.
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