A 35-year-old Marysville, Washington, man is facing charges after investigators say he broke into a home and created an elaborate scheme to swindle renters out of money.
Matthew Robert Paul is facing several charges including theft and obtaining a signature by deception, according to the Snohomish County Prosecutor's Office. In April 2017, investigators say Paul broke into a home on Hermosa Beach Road near Tulalip Bay knowing the owners were on an extended vacation in Mexico.
Paul hung framed pictures of himself on the walls, lit the fireplace and even checked references in an effort to appear legitimate, according to charging documents. Police say five people became victims of the scheme after responding to Paul's advertisement. Police say the victims paid Paul up to $5,825 to rent and remodel the home.
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Matt Dunn's parents own the house. He believes the suspect found his parents' spare key and used it to break in.
"To hear something like that really made me mad," he said. "Just using somebody's house is dirt-baggish to begin with. Going the extra mile and trying to gain from it? It's really crazy."
The suspect told neighbors he was a family friend who was housesitting, according to Evelyn Werner.
“That didn’t seem strange or peculiar to us,” Werner said. “He seemed like a normal kind of guy. He befriended us and told us he was a friend.”
Werner lives next door. She said a victim who thought he rented the home asked about the property because the suspect was nowhere to be found. The next day, investigators knocked on the door.
“The tribal police came to the back door to interview us and we just went, oh my goodness,” she said. “I guess it hurts my heart that people will go to such extremes to take advantage of innocent, trusting people.”
According to police, Paul asked a man to cash checks from renters in exchange for drugs.
The suspect also allegedly stole thousands of dollars of electronics from Dunn's home and damaged the property.
Paul is expected to make his first court appearance April 19 at 9 a.m.