Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2008 | Late last summer, Robert Carreon searched online rental notices on craigslist.org to find a house for himself, his wife and their three kids. A description of a four-bedroom, three-bathroom house with a three-car garage in Oceanside caught his eye. The rent price for the 2,600 square foot house seemed a bargain: $1,900 a month. Comparable houses might rent for up to $1,000 a month more.
“My jaw dropped,” Carreon said. He called the number in the ad, checked out the house on his own and set up a meeting with the property manager, who was from Newport Beach. In late October, Carreon met with the man, whom he remembers as an older gentleman clad in a Tommy Bahama shirt, slacks, nice shoes and a gold necklace and watch. The man drove to their meeting in a Mercedes-Benz.
Carreon and his family moved in soon after that meeting. They’d lived there for just a few months when a detective from the Oceanside Police Department fraud unit knocked on their door. The detective told Carreon there was a search warrant out for the man he’d rented the house from. The man, Bob Decker, was suspected of stealing a college student’s identity and buying the house in the student’s name without his knowledge.
The steal of a deal that had caught Carreon’s eye quickly turned into a big mess.