Housing scam uses foreclosed homes in Kennewick

Housing scam uses foreclosed homes in Kennewick
KENNEWICK, Wash. -- Neighbors call it brazen; police call it high sophisticated scam. Officers say one man, collected thousands using stolen homes in Kennewick. The scariest part about this fraud case is it fooled just about everyone and for months. It put the safety and security of at least one neighborhood at risk.

"We knew it was a drug house right off the bat," said Ron Shontell. In the middle of a quiet Kennewick neighborhood off W. 15th Avenue, Shontell was shocked to see what had become of his old neighbor's home. “People from the house started meeting people at night on corners at 3:00 a.m. People were driving up stopping, someone would come out of the house meet the car, go back in and they’d drive off,” he said.

The house is vacant, a busted fence and garage door match the stripped interior. But, before the house could get to this, Kennewick Police say Corey Williams, aka Corey Pugh walked right past their offices into city hall.

“He claimed to be the owner when in fact the owner of the house died in 2011. The bank took it over earlier in the year, Corey claimed to have a quick lease. He paid the back water and electrical and started renting it out,” said Sergeant Ken Lattin.

Neighbors told KEPR Corey told them he purchased the home, introducing himself as the owner before police say he broke in and changed the locks. After that, neighbors say it only took a month before trouble started moving in.

“There were some scary people,” said Shontell. But even the tenants, say police, were in the dark about Corey and there are others. A current search turned up four listings on Craig's List, homes rented out by Corey that police say are not his. So far, police know of five other homes.

“This case is far from over," said Lattin.

“The bank is out of town that owns the place so there's no representation here. It could happen anywhere,” said Shontell.

As for the house, the tenants are gone which Shontell says leaves the empty home a target. "We'd like them to clean it up and get some people in there. We don't need empty houses," he said.

Williams is charged with three counts of felony theft.