Dubbed the 'Rampaging Renter,' John Forte is accused of leaving a trail of trash and unpaid rent on the West Coast. And guess where Investigative Reporter Sarah Wallace found him? Right in our area. A couple from New Jersey started doing some researching when the man who rented their home stopped paying rent, and what they discovered gave them a chilling sense of d?j? vu.
When Eyewitness News tracked Forte down, he was moving out before getting booted out of the latest home he's rented in Pt. Pleasant, New Jersey.
"I'm a bad guy. I didn't pay the rent. There it is, straight out," Forte said.
Mike Andersen had rented Forte the home several months ago, not knowing that he was notorious in San Diego, dubbed the "Rampaging Renter" in an investigation by KGTV. Landlords say he used sob stories to get into homes, such as being the victim of identity theft, or a 9/11 fireman from New York.
Andersen says that he suspected a scam when Forte stopped paying rent. So he started doing research, and found that San Diego story online.
"I felt sick," Andersen said, after he realized who his renter was.
Because it wasn't just the bounced checks, Forte was accused of leaving homes trashed when he was forced out.
"Do you understand why people think you're a serial rampage renter?" Sarah Wallace asked Forte.
"I understand that and want to clear my name," he responded.
Forte says he's a changed man and gave us his word he wouldn't trash the Andersen's home. Andersen asked Pt. Pleasant police to keep an eye on the property, just in case.
"I don't know if I've ever heard the truth come out of this man's mouth," Anderson said.
This time, Forte was good to his word.
"I'm just a guy who fell on hard times. A guy who couldn't afford to pay the rent," Forte said.
"And what are you going to do from here?" Wallace asked.
"I don't know. I am trying to put my life together," Forte responded.
The landlords say they were so desperate to rent their houses in a hurry they trusted Forte and didn't do an adequate background check, a good lesson for any homeowner.
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