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Some Boston renters paid extra due to thieving rental-agency worker

A Dorchester woman admitted Friday she stole more than $100,000 in a year from people applying to rent apartments in Hyde Park, Dorchester and Roxbury by charging them twice as much for security deposits as her employer normally would, the Suffolk County District Attorney's office reports.

After Stacey Sanchez-Mercedes, 29, pleaded guilty in West Roxbury Municipal Court to one count of larceny over $1,000, a judge continued her case without a finding for two years, which means that if she stays out of trouble during that time, she can seek to have the case dismissed. She faces a hearing on Oct. 10 to set the amount of restitution she'll have to pay.

According to the DA's office, for roughly a year, Sanchez-Mercedes would charge applicants $2,000 as a security deposit, keep half, then submit the $1,000 Alliance Realty actually charged. She also charged broker fees, which the company did not normally charge.

Sanchez-Mercedes also fabricated fake eviction notices, applied for RAFT rental relief on behalf of her tenants, and had tenants deposit money using Zelle into her personal bank account. Other tenants reported to Alliance Realty they were instructed by Sanchez-Mercedes to take their rent money to a barbershop on Washington Street in Roslindale and give it to a man named “George.” This man would provide them with a paper receipt, similar to the receipts Sanchez-Mercedes provided to the other victims, however that money was never paid to Alliance Realty.

Sanchez-Mercedes worked for Alliance for a total of three years. On Dec. 9, managers at the firm reported to police the "numerous fraudulent transactions with clients," they discovered she had committed over the course of year - a week after firing her, the DA's office reports.

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Comments

Steal a hundred grand and get a CWOF, who says crime doesn't pay?

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She got caught.

Most realtors just price in the bogus fees as a cost of doing business.

Renting here sucks.

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What makes a fee bogus?

State law limits the move-in costs to first, last, security, and broker fee, each limited to one month rent. You might consider this to be too expensive, especially if the "broker" is actually the building manager who didn't show the tenant any other places. But if that's what the market will bear, and the tenant consents, is there anything immoral about it?

There are legitimate problems, like you pay the broker fee but then the landlord fails to deliver the lease. Do state regulations protect tenants from stuff like that?

The real problem is that we need more housing. In other parts of the country, buildings put up big signs saying "First month rent free!"

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I had a reply all written out but I was like nahhhhh so you did it for me.

But as I was going to say..

Let's not group everyone together, I know alot of real estate brokers, and 99.9999% are good honest folks trying to get people housing.

And yeah, you are 100% correct, the state limits what can be collected in fees and deposits. Any reputable real estate broker will abide by the law. (remember most realtors are licensed, and any negative complaints can result in loss of license)

Is the fee bogus? Not at all, just because you paid the fee, doesn't mean you aren't the umptheeth person that viewed the place. All those 15 minute viewings these folks show up add up over time. Plus all the time showing YOU different places around town.

If it wasn't for realtors, you'd need to answer a gazillion ads, meet with moody or shifty landlords, and do alot of the leg work. And you still may not see/get the place you want. (and anyone who has done it this way knows its a pain in the ass)

Plus for the landlord, they are probably having the place cleaned (at their expense), doing any background or credit checks on applicants, posting ads, taking pictures, etc etc.

All of that is why they charge a fee. Should it be 4500 bucks for that 4500/mo place in the Seaport, probably not. But they have to charge something to make it worthwhile. Otherwise who would want to do this for free? (no one) And don't say "the landlord should pay" cuz guess where they are gonna pass that cost onto? (You!)

Sorry I think Realtors are the used car salespeople of houses but there is a need for these people. let's not group all of them together as one bad group.

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In many instances, agents provide little value and are little more than rent-seeking middlemen.

There’s an upside for landlords, which you point out, and I’m sure that somebody could make an econ-101 style argument about how the costs of agents would somehow end up getting priced into rents in a shadow fashion if agents were outlawed.

Here’s my policy remedy: state prohibition against passing agent fees onto renters. Landlords - who, by the way, are in many instances making profits hand over fist - can pony up for the so-called service if they desire.

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In many instances, agents provide little value and are little more than rent-seeking middlemen.

That is your opinion, not fact. I know differently.

Why don't you rent a unit from a realty agent to see the value add.

Sorry folks I have a cottage industry as an MSP as a side work, and many of my clients are Realty offices. Sorry I won't take this bullshit from people. Because that is all it is.. opinionated BS.

really grown tired of the way people just group large people together and mark them as "bad" because of their occupation. This really needs to stop. Its this mentality that starts a thinking process that is really flawed.. "oh you're a (blank), so you're bad". Its a slippery slop from here.

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based on twenty years of renting apartments.

I guess YMMV, but --- as much I like your comments in general, Cybah --- I think your position is also motivated by personal experience.

EDIT: To clarify, I’m not claiming that realtors provide no value in the rental market. I’m suggesting that the cost of the service, and the fact that it is borne by renters, is a distorted and bad-for-regular-people outcome that is the result of Boston’s too-tight rental market. It is a market failure. It is rent-seeking by a constituency with an unreasonable amount of market power due to an accident of supply and demand.

You concede in your initial comment that the fee paid to these folks shouldn’t necessarily be a full month. Why do you think it is?

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she's not a realtor

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Magoo thinks this person is a dirty dirty bird and should go to club fed, not to be confused with club med that certain fun fun time in the Caribbean Magoo had with lady Magoo. Magoo ‘members that club med was so awesome and Magoo wore a men’s bikini for the first time, or a canary smuggler, if you will, or a banana hammock, if you will. But back to this dirty dirty bird. Yes a dirty dirty bird indeedy. Magoo.

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Usually your posts are amusing, but that one...whoo boy.

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She now has a stellar resume for a job at Wells Fargo. That's management material.

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She was allowed to plea to a single charge?

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with no prison time.

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It seems impossible none of the renters would question why their mandatory security deposit receipt only said $1000 when they gave $2000 even if they got a receipt form the shady barber. Maybe a few would miss this but not every one.

Alliance realty is required to provide a receipt of funds paid by the tenant. Are you saying not one questioned this with Alliance? And what did Alliance Realty say when renters asked about it?? Not buying it sorry.

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"People don't look at receipts" seems more likely to me than a broader conspiracy.

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Maybe a few would miss this but not every one.

Ok, so if someone catches it, you just say "whoops, sorry, we must have requested too much from you, here's your money back" and give back the $1000. How many people are going to think that there's something malicious going on as opposed to just basic incompetence from a realty group (which, let's face it, is expected)?

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This happened over a three year period. In that time dozens moved in and out. It would come to their attention when they received the deposit back and it was only $1,000. There is no way none of them reached out to the office directly.

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First, last, security and brokers can be around $10,000, which is outrageous. Something has to give.

Rent: $2,500 x 4= $10,000

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