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A man posing as a landlord defrauded at least three potential renters out of about $4,000 and Hollywood police think there are more victims.

The guy goes by the name James Williams and police Wednesday put out surveillance pictures of him in the hope someone will recognize and report him.

“Williams” claimed to be the owner of the multi-unit residential building at 1919 Mayo St., police said, and he collected deposits from potential tenants who were looking to rent one of the apartments.

“He collects money during the application process and then he disappears,” said Officer Christian Lata.

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The phony landlord posted advertisements online through Craigslist and received application deposits from the three different victims, but investigators learned he had no authority to rent the property.

“We believe there could be more,” said Lata. “There’s three here in Hollywood that came forward. I can only imagine the people who don’t come forward or those he’s in the process of scamming now in other cities [besides] Hollywood.”

Police recommend going to the Broward County Property Appraiser’s website to confirm the real owner of a property before buying or renting it.

“Never give cash. Always give a check so that can be traced,” Lata said. “If [the meeting] is not at an office … that should raise a red flag. Why can’t we meet at the property? Why can’t I go inside the property and see it?”

Detectives are asking anyone who knows him or who has been a victim to contact the Hollywood Police Department at 954-764- 4357 or 954-967-4411. Tipsters can e-mail or text to hollywoodpdtips@hollywoodfl.org.

Anonymous tips can be given to Broward Crime Stoppers at 954-493-8477 or online at browardcrimestoppers.org.

Source: sun-sentinel.com

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