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Sheriff's Department Investigating Possible Rental Scam

An issue over two women having their water services disconnected appears to be linked to a rental scam and will be investigated by the Sheriff's Department.

Sherriff's Department Capt. Steve McLean told the Altadena Town Council Tuesday the department will be opening a fraud investigation in a case of two disabled women who appear to be living at a home that was rented to them under false pretenses.

According to the Altadenablog, which reported on the issue over the weekend, the issue appears to be that the home was rented to the pair by people who were not the actual owners of the home.  

The actual owners, The Peace Officers Professional Association credit union, ordered the water turned off after being billed by the Lincoln Avenue Water Company.  That in turn resulted in pleas from several local political offices to the Lincoln Avenue Water Company to restore the water, and resulted in the issue being taken to the Altadena Town Council, which scheduled the item for Tuesday's meeting.

Lincoln Avenue Water Company director Bob Hayward that illegal occupancy of homes, whether from a scam or foreclosures or financial issues between a landlord and tenant, can become a problem for the water company as the dispute results in the water bill going unpaid.  He said he would like to see assistance from the government for any sort of program designed to help people in those situations resolve their unpaid bills.

At Tuesday's meeting, Hayward addressed the Council about the issue, as did two women who live in the house where the water service was cut.  

However, as the Town Council had no clear authority to resolve the situation, member of the Council instead offered to mediate after the meeting to try to ensure that the womens' water service remained on.  The Altadenablog reported Wednesday that the women were able to get enough donations at the meeting to keep the water on for now.

The Council did not take any action on addressing any larger problems about illegal occupancy.

Hayward said that many of the company's customers have difficulty paying their water bills: about one-third of the company's 4,500 customers do not pay on time, he said Tuesday.

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