Scheme to Sell Fraudulent Section 8 Vouchers Exposed Police Arrest Three Suspects

August 29, 2008

Los Angeles: This morning, Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Rampart Division detectives arrested three people for operating a confidence scheme to sell fraudulent Section 8 housing vouchers. The arrests were part of a joint operation involving LAPD and the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA).

The scam, which was advertised on the Internet at the Craigslist website, promised Section 8 vouchers to renters in exchange for a cash payment of $2,500. Victims were instructed to call a phone number and were then interviewed by someone posing as a HACLA official. Later, if the victim agreed, the “official” would arrange a meeting that was often staged at or near a HACLA facility.

During the meeting, the suspect(s) would show the victim an authentic-looking HACLA identification card and provide a document resembling a Section 8 receipt or voucher in exchange for $2,500. After the transaction, the suspect would vanish and change the listed telephone number. If the victim couldn’t provide the entire $2,500 in one payment, the scheme would continue until all partial payments were made, after which the phone number would be disconnected.

Potential victims may have been quite vulnerable to the scheme because genuine Section 8 vouchers are very much in demand and valuable, enabling those with low-incomes to rent housing for rates far below current market levels.   

To date, at least five of these crimes are known to have been committed, with one of the five occurring in Inglewood. Detectives believe the suspects could be responsible for many more similar crimes because their scheme was advertised on the Internet. Anyone who believes he/she has been a victim or has information about other potential victims, is asked to call LAPD Rampart Detective Division at 213-484-3450. After hours and on weekends, calls may be directed to a 24-hour, toll-free number at 1-877-LAW-FULL (529-3855).