- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 22, 2014

With the change of a lock and a handful of fake documents, a Prince George’s County woman who claimed to be a realtor illegally rented out a home she didn’t own and pocketed the payments.

Shannon Lee pleaded guilty Thursday to a count of second-degree burglary for leasing the home — a scheme prosecutors say she conducted at least four times. Lee, 31, faces six months in jail for the offense.

Authorities said the scheme was uncovered when a property owner returned to check on her Cheltenham home in May 2013. The homeowner had vacated the house, which was in the foreclosure process, but discovered it occupied.

As the homeowner confronted the man living at the property, who said he was renting the home for $1,650 a month. Lee arrived and tried to smooth over the situation, claiming to have bought the home at a tax sale. But the homeowner didn’t buy the story and called police.

When officers executed a search warrant at Lee’s residence, they found fraudulent documents that appeared to show she had scammed several others.

Police also learned that the cellphone number Lee gave to the homeowner was a number for Delta Exclusive Realty, where she was listed as an agent. The company declined to comment on the case, and an online license search showed no indication that Lee is licensed as a real estate agent in Maryland.

She faces a host of other charges, including theft, forgery and fraud for her actions in other instances in which prosecutors say she rented out two other homes through similar schemes and faked a deed to the home she was living in.

“Ms. Lee took advantage of the homeowners and the tenant she illegally rented the house to,” Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela D. Alsobrooks said. “Going through financial hardship is difficult enough without having someone take advantage of your situation for their own personal gain.”

It was unclear how long Lee had lived in the home at which police served the search warrant, but investigators recovered a fake deed dated May 3, 2013. The owners of the Cheltenham property left the home in 2009 while it was pending foreclosure.

Prosecutors said Lee also falsified paperwork in order to transfer the deed for a $280,000 Cheltenham home into her name. The paperwork asserted that she was the daughter of a D.C. couple who owned the home, although the couple told police they are now divorced and have no children.

In the final case, prosecutors said Lee again falsified documents for a foreclosed townhouse and in 2013 rented the property to a family through Craigslist after claiming she had inherited the home from a dead relative. The family signed contracts to lease the home in May 2013 and paid Lee $1,500 a month in rent.

Lee on Thursday also pleaded guilty to forgery in an unrelated case in which she produced fake invoices and check requests for more than $80,000 for services rendered by her company, Ideal Management Solutions LLC.

She also faces charges of theft and unauthorized use of a credit card for allegedly using a credit card registered to the Department of Veterans Affairs to go on a spending spree at HH Gregg and Best Buy stores in Prince George’s and Charles counties. Prosecutors said Lee obtained the card from a friend who works at the agency.

• Crystal Hill can be reached at chill@washingtontimes.com.

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