A 28-year-old Venice man who allegedly posed as a property manager and took thousands of dollars in rent money from prospective tenants in the South Bay and other areas has been charged with grand theft, police said.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office charged Kenneth Colvin Thursday, March 1st, with two felony counts of grand theft and two felony counts of attempted grand theft, said Sgt. Peter Grimm of the Redondo Beach Police Department.
Colvin was arrested at his Pacific Avenue residence in Venice Tuesday, February 27th, after he allegedly showed a rental property in Hermosa Beach to two undercover Redondo Beach police detectives, Grimm said.
Police also arrested Colvin’s roommate, Ryan Leake, 29, on suspicion of identity theft for allegedly renting the Venice apartment using someone else’s identity, Grimm said.
Redondo Beach police conducted the investigation of Colvin after they received a call Tuesday, February 27th, from a woman who reported suspicious activity involving the rental of vacant properties in the South Bay area, Grimm said.
Colvin had allegedly found houses for rent and advertised them on the popular “Craig’s List” Web site, craigslist.org, he said.
Colvin made arrangements to show prospective tenants the properties and portrayed himself as the property manager, but he had no legal standing to rent the properties and was not the owner, Grimm alleged.
When Colvin arranged the meetings at the locations, he allegedly supplied the potential tenants with false lease agreements and business cards.
He would request first and last month’s rent from the prospective tenants, as well as social security information, and insisted that the payment be in the form of a money order, Grimm alleged.
Police said they have identified at least five victims from the areas of Redondo Beach, Westwood Village, the San Fernando Valley and San Diego.
“The bulk of the activity was in the South Bay,” Grimm said.
Police allege that Colvin took a total of about $18,000 to $20,000 from the five victims.
Grimm said police have recovered receipts from the alleged rental transactions, which have occurred over “at least the last two months,” and detectives believe there are other victims.
“We feel we’re just scratching the surface, but we think he’s been doing it for quite some time,” Grimm alleged.
Anyone with additional information regarding this case is asked to contact the Redondo Beach Police Department at (310) 379-2477 ext. 2714.