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Craigslist renters rent the same home

By Sarah Sell/WZZM-TV • Dec 7, 2017 at 3:00 PM

GRAND RAPIDS — At least four renters may be the victims of fraud after they signed leases and paid rent on a home listed on Craigslist.

Each person says they jumped at the chance to rent what they thought was a decent, affordable home in Grand Rapids for $550 a month. They soon discovered that they weren't the only ones planning to move in.

"I heard the door open. I'm like, this isn't happening,” said Henry House.

A woman walked into what he thought was his new apartment.

"He's like, 'Why do you have keys to my apartment?' I'm like, why do you have the keys to my apartment? Why are you in here?” said Marisha McFarland.

Both planned to move in to the Davis Avenue home on Dec. 4. Both say they signed leases, paid the first months' rent and were given a set of keys to the house.

As they reviewed the paperwork, they discovered Jaleeiah Davis was also on the lease. All three found the listing on Craigslist.

"I was apartment searching. I was in a one bedroom. But, I'm six months pregnant, so I wanted a two-bedroom for my daughter,” Davis said.

They all say that the man they talked to went by the name Michael Alan Hite. A quick property search shows the real owner is Victoria Zwart, who said Hite is the tenant and currently in jail.

Zwart said she found out other people were living in the home.

"We were trying to evict everybody here,” she said.

One of them is Robert Tyler the third. McFarland, Davis and House all identified the man as Tyler, who they say was posing as Hite. They paid him a total of $1,100 each.

"He signed Mike Alan Hite's name, not Robert Tyler the third, which is his real name,” Davis said.

Tyler has since moved out of the house.

Tyler declined an on-camera interview, but said what he did was legal. He said he was providing a service and what they gave him were "fees" for finding them a house. He also denies signing Mike's name to those receipts.

"We feel bad because a lot of people got hurt. That's a lot of money,” Zwart said.

Davis said: "That's why I'm really mad. You just don't mess with people's livelihoods like that. I worked hard for that money.”

Tyler said his attorney told him the documents were legal and binding. Tyler wouldn't provide the attorney's name, but said he would have him give WZZM-TV a call. So far, the station has not heard back.

In the meantime, Grand Rapids police are investigating this as a potential case of fraud.

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