Alleged scam artist
caught in San Diego

Police say he collected initial
rent for homes that were occupied

A Hawaii fugitive wanted for alleged rental property scams on Maui and Oahu over the last five months has been captured in California.

San Diego sheriffs arrested Ronald Ken Dufrene yesterday after he allegedly attempted to rent a property using the identity of a Hawaii resident. Honolulu police said the renter became suspicious and contacted authorities when Dufrene could not duplicate the signature of the person he claimed to be.

Police on Oahu and Maui have been looking for Dufrene for allegedly scamming money from people looking to rent homes in Lahaina and Hawaii Kai. Police said Dufrene would advertise a property for rent, show it to potential renters and then, in some cases, collect a cash deposit.

In some cases, police said, when victims tried to move into the property, they found either a boarded-up residence or people already living there.

"People would say, 'Oh yeah, who the heck are you?'" said Maui Detective Arthur Dadez. "He's caused a lot of problems out here.

"They better bring him back here (to Maui) first."

Dadez said the alleged scams appeared to have started around November, after Dufrene was evicted from his Front Street home in Lahaina. Dadez said Dufrene put an ad in the Maui News stating that the property was for rent and started showing the property to potential renters and in some cases collecting first and last months' rent plus utilities.

After Dufrene was arrested and charged on Maui in early December, he jumped bail and fled to Oahu where he allegedly tried the same scam using a Kaumakani Street home in Hawaii Kai. Honolulu police said Dufrene met with potential renters four times in February, once collecting $1,200 in cash for first month's rent plus utilities.

"He was definitely convincing when he talked," said Honolulu police Detective Robert Cravalho, "but we knew he'd be caught sooner or later."

Dufrene was arrested in San Diego based on the $20,000 contempt warrant from Maui. He is charged with five counts of theft and one count each of burglary, attempted theft and driving a stolen vehicle. Cravalho said charges against Dufrene are pending for four cases on Oahu.


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