Elderly woman faces eviction after rent payment was stolen - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Elderly woman faces eviction after rent payment was stolen

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"I want to stay here," said 69 year-old Clara Johnson. "I'm the only one that lives here."

Her family lives in Washington. For the past five years, she's called the Villas De La Luz apartments, on Rutland Drive, home.

Clara said, "I didn't want to get no late charges because... if you don't pay it on time, they charge you late charges."

Miss Johnson says she dropped off her January rent in an overnight drop box. She didn't know management never received the payment...until she got an eviction notice in the mail.

"I went up there and I said, I paid my rent. She said no you didn't. I said, yes I did and I had my papers with me," said Clara.

Miss Johnson showed them her receipts from Speedy Cash, where she paid for two money grams.

Family friend, Charesta Pope, said "They gave her a number to call, a 1-800 number...they said they had got the man on camera, that cashed the money order."

"Joseph Knight" is the name that appears on copies from Speedy Cash.

The money gram identification numbers match Miss Johnson's originals.

Pope said, "They said it looked like the money order had been washed. It looked like he washed it, let it dry and put his information on it."

A You Tube search brings up plenty of videos proving it can be done.

Watch how the chemicals wash away the ink...leaving a blank check.

Once the paper is dry, someone could easily write a check to themselves, cashing in on your money.

"No half payments. They want it all, in full payment," said Pope.

Management with the Villas De La Luz Apartments wouldn't talk on camera to FOX 7. Off camera, they say their hands are tied--that Miss Johnson signed the lease agreement...and policy and procedure requires them to only accept payments in full.

"They want $1,556.14. That's how much they want," Pope said.

Reps with Villas De La Luz say they have no way of proving Miss Johnson dropped off the rent, which is $610.

"I just want them to take it, that's all I asked them to do and they won't take it. They want it all," said Clara. "I couldn't pay back pay and so I went and dropped it off in the box like everybody else."

The rent drop box is no longer on the property.

Reps with Speedy Cash say they are currently working with APD on a case similar to what Miss Johnson is describing. By law, they say they can't confirm if it is in fact, her case.

This kind of crime isn't new.

In 2012, police investigated a burglary ring, with 200 victims in Austin. The thieves were getting away with $50,000 a month by stealing rent checks out of overnight drop boxes at apartment complexes, washing them and cashing them.

Donations for Miss Clara can be made to this Blue-Bird money account. The account number is 375-1511-7656-5321. The account code is 340.

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