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Cagey, Phony 'Realtor' Convicted for Scamming Her Landlords in Los Gatos, Neighboring Towns

The Bay area woman put on fancy front to snag pricey housing, repeatedly bounced rent checks -- and paid squat until evicted, say court sources.

A 52-year-old Bay area woman was given a jail sentence this week after being convicted of a series of felonies for scamming local landlords out of tens of thousands of dollars in rent, the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office reported today.

Posing as a successful real estate agent in need of a quick place to live, Rebecca Violette lied on her rental applications about her income and denied that she had a prior history of past evictions. Moreover, she paid for her first and last month rents with bad checks.

Violette ended up living in the high-end properties in Campbell, Los Gatos, Mountain View and San Jose virtually rent-free until she was finally evicted, said the county's fraud-unit attorneys.  

Violette was convicted on Jan. 22 of grand theft, elder financial fraud and passing bad checks. 

The Hon. Hector Ramon sentenced her Wednesday to four years and eight months. She will serve two years and eight months in jail, followed by 16 months of mandatory supervision.  

“We are all susceptible to a fine-tuned business approach, even if it’s based on falsehoods. In this case, the defendant scammed several real estate professionals,” prosecutor Kathy Wells said. “Carefully check all references before renting to anyone.”  

In May, the District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit opened an investigation into Violette, the subject of a series of eviction processes.

She targeted higher-end rental properties that she found on Craigslist. When she met with the property owners/managers, she presented herself as a well-dressed, successful real estate agent in need of a place to live, attorneys said.

Violette convinced owners to sign a lease on the spot in exchange for a bad check for first and last month’s rent. Before the unsuspecting landlord deposited the check, Violette moved into the property.

At that point, the only recourse for the landlord was an “unlawful detainer” action that typically takes 90 days from filing to eviction. That gave Violette a free place to live for the next three months, attorneys said.

Violette jumped from rental properties in Los Gatos, Campbell, San Jose, and Mountain View over a three-year period.

Once caught, investigators found that Violette had scammed tens of thousands of dollars in free rent, according to the case. 

Under the headline, "rebecca violette beware beware los gatos, California," one San Jose car dealer apparently took his frustrations after dealing with Violette in 2012 to the Internet, posting her photo, address and his version of a car sale gone awry.    

With rental-fraud scams are on the rise, particularly during this tight housing market, authorities advise property owners to access the Public Access Civil Case Information Website for Santa Clara County at www.sccaseinfo.org to research whether a prospective tenant had a prior unlawful detainer action. 


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