MILTON, Ga. — Police dispatched to a trespassing call Jan. 30 encountered a Pennsylvania family moving into a vacant home along Mountain Road. The family told police they spent $17,000 to rent to own the property. But it turned out they were victims of a real estate scam.

According to the police report, the actual owners of the home reported trespassers after getting calls from a neighbor that someone was on the property. When police responded, the victims told them they were the rental owners and showed them a rental agreement through a man named “Jonathan Hill.”

Police later met with the legal homeowners, who were at a different location. They indicated their unoccupied house was up for sale through a realtor named Karney Leon. Both Leon and the homeowners told police the house was not under any type of rental agreement and said they didn’t know anyone name Jonathan Hill.

That’s when it became clear to police that the Pennsylvania family had fallen prey to a scheme, the incident report noted. One of the victims explained to officers that he found “Hill” on LinkedIn, where the purported realtor had high ratings and positive reviews.

Leon’s profile claimed he lived in California but sold properties throughout the South. He sent the victim several Zillow property listings, and the family chose to buy the Milton residence. To secure the supposed deal, the suspect sent separate emails saying he needed two $4,200 down payments and $2,800 for the first two months of rent before the family could move in. The victim said he made all the payments through PayPal. He told officers he spent about $17,000 in total to make the move. He noted his family provided the suspect with all their banking information, Social Security numbers and copies of their driver’s licenses.

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