With a fireplace and a deck overlooking the bay, the home on Hermosa Beach Road was a desirable rental—so much so that a man who didn't even own the Marysville, Wash., home rented it out. KIRO 7 reports 35-year-old Matthew Robert Paul (or "Ryan," as the Daily Herald says he was known to the renters he allegedly swindled) is facing charges of theft and obtaining a signature by deception. Police allege Paul broke into the home in April 2017 after finding out the owners were away for a lengthy vacation. After telling neighbors he was a family friend who was housesitting, Paul fired up the fireplace and put up pictures of himself around the home, and when interested parties responded to his rental ad, he tried to make it look more legit by checking references, per charging papers.
Police say he told two men their applications had been accepted; they in turn paid him more than $5,000 for upfront rent, security deposits, and remodeling costs. Paul allegedly told potential renters to make out all checks to his "uncle," a man police say cashed the checks in exchange for $20 worth of heroin from Paul. When the owners finally arrived home, nearly $2,000 worth of their stuff was gone, including their laptops, TV, and various tools; there was also damage to the property. "Using somebody's house is dirt-baggish to begin with," the son of the owners tells KIRO 7, noting he thinks Paul gained access to the house by finding a spare key. "Going the extra mile and trying to gain from it? It's really crazy." Paul, who has pleaded not guilty, is set to appear in court April 19. (A Bay Area man was accused of breaking into homes during his shift as a FedEx worker.)