Jan and Marie Ouelette are laying down roots in Connecticut. They searched Craigslist for a rental home and found a list in in Andover with an 860 phone number and were sold at first sight.
“We like it here. It’s a beautiful piece of property,” Marie Ouelette said.
In early June, they say a man named Jimmy from New Haven Investments presented them with a hand-written lease without doing a credit check. Marie Ouelette said that was the first red flag.
“I asked him who to make the check out to and he said, ‘We prefer cash,'” the young mother explained.
The cashiers’ check shows the Ouelettes paid $1,875 for the first month’s rent and a half month’s security deposit. The Ouelettes moved in, but four weeks later, another red flag appeared at the front door.
“In the beginning of July, I get a knock on the door, and it’s Henry saying, ‘Who are you, and why are you here?'” Marie Oulette said.
Henry McDonald, who owns the house, moved across the state several months ago and received a letter in April from Realty Partners Group expressing interest in buying the property, which is going through foreclosure.
In May, a man named Bill met him at the home to propose a deal, according to McDonald.
“He told me it wouldn’t be a quick sale. They’d buy the house and my name would be cleared, and I’d be able to get financed on another house,” said McDonald.
McDonald signed three one-page documents: a management agreement that makes reference to renting the property, a third-party authorization letter and an indemnification agreement. In return, he says Bill agreed to pay him $2,000.
“He paid me $1,000 and said the other thousand would come once all the other paperwork was signed,” McDonald said.
Longtime Connecticut real estate attorney Chuck Shimkus reviewed the documents and said they’re so vague, he questions their legitimacy, but said they would undoubtedly be attractive to certain homeowners and entice them to sign.
“As a homeowner that in a difficult situation with a foreclosure in financial dire straits, it’s awfully tempting to enter into this arrangement, to basically put this worry aside move on in your life,” said Shimkus.