Couple arrested for Lehigh rental scheme

Posted at 5:05 PM, Sep 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-20 22:20:07-04

LEHIGH ACRES, Fla. -- A couple is under arrest after trying to rent out a Lehigh Acres home they had no claim to.

The house in question is located on West 5th Street in Lehigh Acres.  When representatives for the real homeowner got wind that the residence was being listed "for rent" on Craigslist, they decided to take action.  One of the representatives for the homeowner called for Roger Ochoa at the listed number and said he was interested in seeing the residence.  Ochoa said he'd meet him there, and instructed the victim to go to the back of the residence and enter through the rear door.  When the victim did so, he observed the screen had been removed and the door was unlocked.  It was the same door the victim had locked the previous evening.

Inside, Ochoa said he needed $3,000 for rent and would present the lease paperwork later.  That's when the victim called deputies, who arrived to catch Ochoa in the act, phony documents and all.

"It was scary. We don't know who this guy is, we don't know if he was coming armed. We took a chance, but I know I didn't want him to get away," Darren Mohammed, the listing agent for the home, and the nephew of the homeowners, said.

Due to the totality of circumstances and evidence at hand, deputies determined Ochoa conducted an ongoing course of conduct with the intent to defraud multiple persons.  Deputies arrested Roger Ochoa of Hialeah, Florida and charged him with Scheme to Defraud and Burglary of an Unoccupied Residence.  Deputies were able to determine a woman sitting in a vehicle in front of the residence was in on the scheme and charged Yuleidis Vazquez of Hialeah, Florida with Scheme to Defraud and Burglary Accessory after the fact.

The situation left neighbors in the area on edge.

"Boy, I tell you, that scares me because I live here. It puts me on edge that I have to be much more careful," Clarence Williams said.

"I feel sorry for them. It's hard earned money. You work hard to make the money, and you lose it just like that" Gift Barankowski said.

Detectives believe this couple may have defrauded others in Lee County, especially non-English speaking residents.  If you believe you were defrauded by Ochoa and Vazquez, call the Lee County Sheriff's Office at (239) 477-1000.