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Man collects $800 a month renting vacant house he doesn't own

SILVER SPRINGS SHORES - Until Wednesday, Carl Kopsho had no idea that the man who collected $800 from him every month was not legally his landlord.

When sheriff's deputies told him he was living in the house without permission from the owner, Kopsho was confused. Then it all started to make sense.
Deputies say a man pretended to own a house at 15 Olive Drive and rented it to Kopsho, 34, and his girlfriend, Heather Peteck, 23, without the knowledge of the owner, who lives in New York.
In January, Kopsho needed a new place to live. While he was talking about his situation with a friend at a gas station, a man approached and introduced himself as Tyrone Grain.
Grain took Kopsho's phone number but said he did not have a cell himself, and arranged to give Kopsho a tour of the house.
"He was just a funny character," Kopsho said.
Grain told him he was in the process of a divorce and wanted to rent out his house. It was close to where Kopsho was already living, so he signed a lease, paid the first and last months' rent and, in early February, moved in.
Grain refused to accept checks, saying he had been ripped off in the past, and collected the cash in person at the beginning of each month. Kopsho said he had received bad checks before at his own business, so he found the request strange but not suspicious.
According to a Marion County Sheriff's Office report, the deed-holder, Sebastian Wagner, called authorities Wednesday to say he suspected someone was living at his Marion County property, which was supposed to be vacant.
When investigators came to Kopsho's door, he assumed Grain's ex-wife was trying to take possession of the property, but he wasn't worried because he had a lease.
Deputies are still investigating the case and have not located the man who called himself Tyrone Grain.
After learning the truth, Kopsho remembered his dealings with his supposed landlord in a different light.
"It just kind of all clicked in now," he said. "Who doesn't have a cell phone nowadays?"
Kopsho said authorities told him the real owner may decide to start renting the house, and he hopes he will not have to move. He has already painted the walls and installed a refrigerator and was about to replace the kitchen cabinets.
"I'm glad I didn't start 'em yet," he said. "I'd have been a little upset."

http://www.ocala.com/article/20080717/NEWS/316611023
 
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