PHOENIX -- Authorities are searching for a man who allegedly defrauded at least eight people out of down payments for homes in Phoenix.
Phoenix police say 31-year-old Alfredo Juarez Gandarilla allegedly has been identifying himself as a real estate agent since June 2013 and giving guarantees to people that he can get them into a home.
Police say Gandarilla has provided prospective buyers with addresses of vacant homes and codes to lockboxes.
"That code is guarded and only real estate agents that are licensed should have access to those," said Phoenix police spokesman Sgt. Tommy Thompson. "Somehow he's gotten those codes. Whether he's working with another individual or not, we don't know."
He then allegedly asks people to sign a contract to buy the home with a down payment of between $1,500 and $11,500.
Police say the victims eventually discover Gandarilla isn't authorized to sell the property and he's nowhere to be found when they want their money back.
Police say eight identified victims have been defrauded out of more than $45,000 since June 2013, and there may be additional victims who have not come forward.
"Most of them have been Hispanic, and that could be because perhaps he thinks that they won't go to the authorities that they've been scammed," Thompson said.