Families Left Without Money and a Place to Live Following Rental Home Scam in Largo
The Largo Police Department (LPD) continues to investigate a rental home scam that scammed at least 12 families out of money and a place to live.
On Tuesday, June 19, 2018, the Largo Police Department began investigating an ongoing scheme to defraud involving a rental house located at 1091 Lexington Court in Largo, FL.
Two suspects have been named in this scheme, 29 year-old Nicole Johnson and 32 year-old David Johnson.
The house on Lexington Court is owned by Christopher and Lisa Dominik. Lisa Dominik is the mother of Nicole Johnson. It is unknown if Christoper Dominik is Nicole’s father or father in-law.
Investigators say that the Johnsons portrayed themselves as the Dominiks and entered into multiple lease agreements with at least 12 individual families.
The Johnsons received large deposits from these families, ranging from $1,000 up to $4300 per victim. These payments came in the form of checks, money orders, and cash for rent and security deposits.
Although the case is still under investigation, the total loss involved is believed to exceed $25,000.00.
Law enforcement was initially called to the scene when four families showed up at the same time in order to take possession of the home. One of the families had traveled from Indiana with all of their possessions in a U-Haul trailer.
Because of the relocation expenses and the money collected by the Johnsons, this family had completely exhausted their resources and were fortunate enough to receive a small amount of cash from neighbors at the scene in order to pay for gas to cover the return trip to Indiana.
Multiple other families were forced to scramble in order to find a place to live, having packed up their previous residence in anticipation of moving into the Lexington Court home.
All of the involved families took significant financial hits as a result of the Johnson’s actions.
The Johnsons trolled Facebook and other social media sites such as Craigslist seeking out families looking for rental properties. They would then directly solicit these families, contacting them by online texting or Facebook messenger with the opportunity to rent a house in a desirable neighborhood.
The victims were given in-person tours of the home, provided with printed and signed lease agreements and given receipts for associated deposits. Almost all of the families did their due diligence and researched the home and the suspects involved.
The names provided by the suspects to the victims matched tax records and property appraiser records, lending a high degree of legitimacy to the scam.
The Johnsons then stalled the victims and coordinated the move-in dates for the involved families to coincide with the Johnsons’ departure from the state. At this point, it appears the Johnsons fled to New York, possibly on Friday, only days before the victims were scheduled to take possession of the rental property.
Investigators say that the Dominiks are being very cooperative and that the Johnsons failed to return their vehicle. Arrest warrants are being requested and their exact whereabouts are being sought. The Johnsons are also on the run with their own children.
Nicole Johnson reportedly told the victims many lies trying to explain the delay in the move-in date. She even reportedly told one family that she was in labor and the baby needed CPR and ultimately died.
Investigators say they are still receiving calls from other possible victims. Victims are continuing to come forward as the investigation unfolds. Anyone who was defrauded by the Johnsons is encouraged to contact the Largo Police Department Investigative Services Division, Detectives Young (727)587-6757 and Detective Allred (727)586-7475.