Renters in search of affordable housing get scammed

The Los Angeles Times/March 21, 2008

Apartments Many people are desperate for affordable housing in Los Angeles, so much so that there is often a long waiting list for government-issued Section 8 vouchers that help lower the rent for low-income tenants. Since they are so difficult to obtain, more than 250 people jumped at the chance to buy a voucher through a Compton nonprofit despite being charged as much as $1,500 apiece.

Turns out those vouchers were fraudulent and those renters are out of luck, the Wave Newspapers report.

Sheriff's deputies were called earlier this week after about 100 of those renters protested outside the offices World Literacy Crusade International [which has links to Scientology]. Officials at the organization, which focuses on tutoring children, concede they did sell the vouchers (which are issued free to eligible renters) but didn't know they were fake. The people who purchased the vouchers found out they were phony after they were rejected by landlords.

"They told me it was like a deposit we'd be making for a Section 8 voucher," Desiree Blount told the Wave. "They said, 'Come down with the money, it's a legitimate voucher.' A lot of us trusted their word because they've helped our children with tutoring and they even have church here on Sundays."

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