A San Pablo woman was indicted for fraud on Friday for allegedly collecting deposits for rental housing that she did not own and had no legal authority to rent, according to the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office.
Mercedes Gonzales, 25, was arrested by Vallejo police last weekend and appeared in court for arraignment on Friday. She pleaded not guilty to the charges and remains in custody on $540,000 bail, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said that the fraudulent conduct was uncovered in the spring when numerous victims made complaints to the Richmond Police Department.
The victims alleged that Gonzales would post listings for houses to rent on Facebook and elsewhere under a false name.
She would then show prospective renters the units despite having no legal authority to rent the units.
She would prepare fictitious rental agreements and collect deposits for the units, according to prosecutors. In all, prosecutors alleged that she bilked 23 victims this way.
In addition to the indictment, prosecutors said that Gonzales was charged separately with receiving stolen property and grand theft relating to two victims.
Any other potential victims or anyone with information about the case is asked to call Richmond police Sgt. Kristopher Tong at (510) 620-6668.