DAVIE, Fla. – There was one home in Davie and four leasing agreements. On Wednesday, Davie Police Department detectives said it was not a misunderstanding; it was fraud. They are accusing a convicted felon who purports to run a nonprofit organization to help military veterans.
Officers arrested James Stote of Dania Beach on Oct. 8. They accused him of listing the property at 8970 N. Lake Park Cir. on Craigslist to net his victims.
According to the arrest report, Carlos Garcia, Rosa Alvarez, Yakarina Bello and Bianca Marquez fell for his scam and handed him $16,400. Garcia allegedly gave him $3,500 on Aug. 20; Alvarez lost $3,600; Bello lost $3,600 on Aug. 24 and Marquez lost $5,700 on Aug. 9.
"The defendant had no intention of allowing the victims to take possession of the property," Detective Curtis Schock wrote in the report. "The defendant signed all lease agreements for the same move-in date and property which shows the intent to defraud."
Stote allegedly told the victims they were moving on Sept. 1, and later postponed the move-in date saying there were ongoing renovations to the property.
Detectives believe there are more victims. Stote was on probation since July 19 for grand theft and fraudulent use of personal identification. He also purports to help military veterans as the chief executive officer of Improving Homes for Disabled Veterans, formerly the Homes for Heroes Project.
"We are hoping that other victims may come forward if they were victimized by this individual or his organization," said Sgt. Mark Leone, a spokesman for the Davie Police Department.
Prosecutors charged Stote with three counts of grand theft, three counts of uttering forged instruments, scheme to defraud through communications and probation violation. The Broward Sheriff's Office is holding him at the Joseph V. Conte Facility in Pompano Beach.