Rental agent keeps deposit leaving mothers and kids out in the cold

WARRENSVILLE HEIGHTS, OH (WOIO) - The Warrensville Heights Police Department is looking for a man who showed an apartment to several people, accepted security deposits and disappeared.

Cleveland 19 showed a picture from a Facebook post where the suspect listed the apartment to Amber Porter asking "You recognize this guy?"

In an instant she said "Otis Simmons."

Porter went to the apartment after seeing the ad.

It seemed to fit the bill for her and her two children.

"I placed a deposit and application fee down on it and never heard from him again. I called him, he basically gave me the run around about meeting with him every day it's been an excuse. Basically it turned out that he was a false landlord posing as a landlord," Porter said.

There is currently an arrest warrant out for Simmons.

Police said they don't have a report available.

Investigators don't want to make the report available until all the victims come forward and they're still coming forward.

Here is how widespread the scheme was.

After Porter put the $350 deposit down, she told a friend about it.

The friend contacted Simmons and was shown an apartment.

"Come to find out that he was showing the same property that he showed me as well," Porter said.

Her friend is also out her deposit.

It is thought as many as eight people were duped.

Porter wonders what she could have done differently.

"I have a receipt, I have text messages, screen shots of our entire conversation. But not the money," Porter said.

Cleveland 19 had no better luck finding Simmons, who has not returned a phone message.

Porter said she is in a tough spot

"Right now I'm going house to house just hoping to find a new place to stay trying to come back up with the money so me and my kids could be somewhere warm for the holidays," Porter said.

The attorney for Simmons told police he will turn himself in on Wednesday.

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