A San Jose real estate agent was found guilty Wednesday of grand theft in connection with a home rental scam that left many Bay Area renters without homes, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office reported Thursday.
James Troy Wilson, 46, ran a real estate scam in which he located vacant homes throughout the Santa Clara, Contra Costa, and San Joaquin counties. Prosecutors say he would change the locks on the homes, perform minor repairs, and list the homes for rent on Craigslist. Renters assumed he owned the homes.
According to Deputy District Attorney David Lim, the actual homeowners would suddenly find renters living in their homes and would call police to have them evicted.
“This whole situation has been stressful for me and my children, not knowing if we were going to get kicked out of our house,” victim Dixie Tribble said. Tribble rented a San Jose home purportedly from Wilson and had police knock on her door accusing her of trespassing. “It scared my children to death,” she said.
“Renters should be careful when renting homes off the internet,” Lim explained. “Renters can always ask to have a local real estate agent run a property title check on a property to verify ownership, and if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
Wilson agreed to a plea deal in which he will spend one year in county jail and be ordered to pay restitution to his victims when he is sentenced on April 26.