Updated: November 18, 2019 10:38 AM
Created: November 17, 2019 10:33 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.—Some families are on the verge of being homeless after falling victim to a rental scam.
The alleged scammer Justin Koch is the son of former Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg.
Victims said Koch was pretending to be the landlord of a property in northeast Albuquerque.
The property, which had a for sale sign in the front yard, belonged to his mother.
Sheila Baca reached out to Koch after she saw the listing welcomed dogs.
“He was very professional,” Baca said. “He asked me basically about the dogs, what I was looking for in a house.”
Koch even gave Baca a walkthrough tour of the house.
Micah Jimenez also saw the listing and met Koch, who was using the name “Jeff”, for a walkthrough.
Jimenez paid Koch a $500 partial deposit over PayPal and Baca handed over $1,500 for the deposit and first month’s rent.
But the two never received their keys or heard from Jeff after that.
“Things kind of sent me off about where he wanted to meet. He was being pushy that he needed cash in hand not PayPal,” Jimenez said.
Jimenez started investigating and found out that the house belonged to the former Bernalillo County district attorney.
“My heart dropped—I mean it dropped,” he said.
Jimenez said everything made sense when he called the number on the for-sale sign.
“She said at least four other people had been duped the same way as me with the same property,” he said. “I was crying all day long, all day long because this close to the holidays we're looking at being homeless now.”
The Brandburg family sent KOB 4 a statement about the house scam:
“Justin has had a very public struggle with addiction. He’s previously paid his debt to society, served a clean probation and held a full-time job. That doesn’t excuse what he’s accused of doing to these familes; however, the threats against him made on social media are dangerous and inexcusable.”
Sheila has set up an emergency fundraiser. To donate, click here.
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