Rental Rip-Offs Under Investigation

One woman says she got lured into the scheme when she called the number on a Craigslist ad for an apartment.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's detectives are now actively investigating the man known as "The Mastermind of Rental Scams," someone authorities say has scammed thousands of renters in southern California, through numerous apartment finder services.

They have now served a search warrant on at least one rental business and have arrested seven employees.

"This is a top priority. My investigators are working on the case as we speak," LA County Sheriff's Lieutenant Phillip Marquez told NBC4.

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The Sheriff's investigation began after the NBC I-Team aired a report exposing Richard Rodriguez and his alleged scams targeting people looking for apartments and houses to rent.

Detectives served a search warrant Wednesday afternoon on Superior Consulting Services in Rowland Heights, where customers from across southern California say Rodriguez and his employees were scamming them.

Reina Gonzales says she got "lured" into the scheme when she called the number on a Craigslist ad for an apartment. She was told to come fill out paperwork at Superior Consulting and then she could see the apartment.

When she got there, she says they asked her for $200 cash, and gave her a list of apartments that she later found out either did not exist or were not for rent.

"He stole my money," Gonzales said about Rodriguez and his employees. She welcomed the news of the arrests. "I'm so satisfied. I'm happy."

Sheriff's investigators also carted off computers and boxes of files from Superior that they hope will lead them to more customers.

"There may be a lot of victims," said Marquez.

The I-Team found Rodriguez ran other rental listing agencies. All were shut down by authorities.

When NBC4 tried to talk to Rodriguez last week, he shoved a news crew out and locked the door. It was the same thing some customers say happened to them.

Authorities say Rodriguez wasn't arrested because he wasn't in the office when they showed up.

But NBC4 saw Rodriguez at the office just hours before the story aired on Monday night, moving some stuff out.

He drove off when he saw NBC4's camera.

"I want Richard Rodriguez to serve time, all of the workers," Gonzalez said. "I want justice."

The seven employees arrested were booked on misdemeanor charges of operating a business without a license.

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