By Steve Large

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – A Sacramento real estate broker is in jail for an alleged home buying hoax.

The district attorney says it’s a story about shattered dreams of homeownership, and one of the victims said the suspect used his own grandchildren to fool her.

“He’s got programs for anybody — for anything you’d need,” said victim Susan Best.

Real estate broker Ronald Russell, 70, is now under arrest. The Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office says he conned at least 70 people out of money totaling $150,000.

“Nobody wants to get ripped off or lied to and conned. That’s not right,” said Best.

Best says she was trying to sell her home and buy a short sale. She says Russell told her he could make it happen if she gave him $2,500. Best handed over the money after she said he gave her a sales pitch using his own grandparents as bait.

“He’s an older guy, talked about his grandkids, has pictures of his grandkids,” said Best. “After a little bit, I thought, okay he’s legit.”

However, Best soon learned she’d been taken in the worst way.

“He never put an offer on a house; he never did anything,” said Best.

Operating a company called Summer Hills Realty, the DA claims Russell pitched a rent-to-own scheme.

For a $2,900 up front fee, Russell told clients he’d buy a foreclosed home of their choice, and then rent it to them until they could buy it.

Best never got her home, or her money.

“I kept telling him, ‘sooner or later you’re going to get caught.’ He just thought, ‘get caught doing what? I’m not doing anything. I’m helping people,’” said Best.

Now Russell has his new home in the county jail.

“He’s 73 (sic), so that’s where he’s going to be. That’s too bad. Like I said, he had a choice. His gradkids are going to see grandpa in jail,” said Best.


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