New Bedford Man Indicted in Alleged Rental Housing Scam
Mass. Attorney General Maura Healey has announced the indictment of a New Bedford man in connection with a rental housing scam that allegedly defrauded tenants in the city's Spanish-speaking and immigrant communities.
Thirty-five year old Victor Tiu Lopez is facing 15 counts of larceny and two counts of witness intimidation. He is scheduled for arraignment on Monday in Fall River Superior Court.
The A-G's office alleges that between February and April of this year, Lopez falsely presented himself as the owner of affordable apartments for rent in New Bedford, and collected more than $22,000 in rental deposits.
Lopez targeted immigrant communities by posting advertisements for apartments on social media and on a local community chat group.
The AG’s Office alleges that after prospective tenants gave him cash deposits for the apartments, Lopez came up with excuses as to why the tenants could not move in, including telling them that the apartments were still undergoing renovations and would repeatedly push out the move-in date, or telling them someone else ended up renting the apartment and offer to show them other ones.
Lopez would also sometimes ask for additional money from prospective tenants, before ultimately failing to return their calls, or simply disappeared. He also allegedly threatened to kill a community organizer if he reported the scam to police.
New Bedford Police and the Bristol County District Attorney's Office assisted in the investigation.
Healey's office is asking anyone who may have been a victim of Lopez's actions to call their White Collar and Public Integrity Division at 617-963-2929.