First Step Rentals, an Orange County rental listing company, was raided by the Santa Ana police after being accused of scamming people out of hundreds of dollars.
Police seized computers and files after at least 50 people would be tenants filed complaints with Santa Ana police, claiming they paid hundreds of dollars to the company for a list of rentals that never materialized. Investigators had been tracking the firm since getting their first complaint in May 2013 and the department launched an investigation October.
First Step Rentals, believed to be operating out of Santa Ana’s Lincoln Pacific Plaza since October 2012 as a prepaid rental listing service. The company is accused of luring prospective tenants into its business, charging $200 for weekly listings, but providing listings for units that either were already rented or weren’t homes but businesses.
Raymond Fuentes, 43, is suspected of owning First Step Rentals, which opened in 2012, police said. State records alleged that Fuentes’ partner in First Step, Richard Anthony Rodriguez, had been tied to illegal rental listing services dating back to 1996.
Last March, the state issued an order demanding the company to stop operating because it wasn’t licensed. The state has shut down two other rental-listing firms run by Fuentes over the past decade, identified as Sea Side in Huntington Beach and Casas Grandes, a rental business in South El Monte.