CFAH

While Arden Van Upp has moved, perhaps she hasn’t moved on in her ways. A reader’s plea this afternoon: “Last week Arden showed me an apartment I put down $2200 for a security deposit. She cashed it and I haven’t heard back! Have called 3 times…advice?”

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Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by A.T.

    pilar, call the police and have her arrested for fraud. I’m serious. That is a serious crime and she’ll do it as long as people just shrug their shoulders and eat the loss.

  2. Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

    A.T. has obviously never called the police just to have them show up, take your statement for their report, and then shrug their shoulders and mumble “it’s a civil matter”, have them leave, and never hear from them or the district attorney’s office again.
    I’m not a lawyer. But I think it’s safe to say that if the reader mentioned above decided to sue Van Upp in Superior Court, he or she could easily run up over $2,200 in legal fees before even getting in front of a judge. Just getting someone like Arden Van Upp served would be expensive, she knows all the ins and outs.
    Avoiding grifter landladies, another reason to not be a renter in San Francisco.
    [Editor’s Note: Or perhaps another reason to plug in to SocketSite on a regular basis to know which names to avoid…]

  3. Posted by Denis

    I think we might as well do a PSA and publish the address. I’m assuming the unit Pilar mentioned is at her building at 2807 Steiner St. (Cross Vallejo) She’s had an ad posted in the basement unit “For Rent” for several months now.
    I think Arden may also live there. I see her coming in and out in her full Whatever Happened to Baby Jane regalia with some frequency.

  4. Posted by Sue M. Howe

    Since the claim is under $7,500.00, take her to small claims court. The process is pretty simple and they have a “Small Claims Advisor” who’s available for consultation for free by phone. http://www.sfsuperiorcourt.org/index.aspx?page=26

  5. ^^^ Any good con artist also uses aliases. van Upp has used Dee Rich and Dee Elmalik.
    Be careful out there …

  6. Posted by sfrenegade

    Also, it’s really not that hard to do a little bit of due diligence when renting an apartment. There are all kinds of things you can check over the internets, if you don’t want to go to a city/county office, and you can always chat with your potential new neighbors.

  7. Posted by tipster

    Before giving a deposit:
    Step 1: Look up the property tax records and make sure you are giving the check to the owner. You can call the county assessor and give them the name and address and they’ll tell you if you are dealing with the owner.
    Step 2: Only then do you sign the lease. You can sign the lease at the same time as step 3.
    Step 3: Give them the check when they give you the keys, AFTER you have used those keys to open the front door and make sure the place is vacant.
    You’ll never have a problem if you follow those simple steps.
    If the owner is represented by a reputable real estate agent, you’ll probably never have a problem anyways.
    As for this person’s problem, the police won’t do much but the city attorney will sometimes step in. Frequently he will do this after the story hits the papers (hint hint).
    The process won’t be too expensive: small claims court, then you get a judgement. The hard part is usually getting the person to pay, but here it would be easy. When she doesn’t pay, you garnish the rent from a different apartment in the same building: you get a court order to have the tenant pay you directly instead of her. You may be able to get interest too. Nothing she can do about it.
    There is a help assistance center at the court where they will tell you how to do ALL of this and even help you fill out the forms.

  8. Posted by sfrenegade

    In this publicly available reproduction of a court filing, she used the name Arden Rich. Her brother and sister are described as having the last name Rich as well, as is her mother. This is a filing resulting from the odd set of occurrences referenced in the SFWeekly article over her mother and the fight between the siblings over the mother’s estate, since the mother essentially signed most of it over to Arden. She is a real piece of work.
    http://www.anusha.com/writ.htm

  9. Posted by lyqwyd

    This really should be criminal, especially for a repeat offender. Or at least 10 times penalties. People like this should not be able to get away with this sort of thing without punishment.

  10. Posted by giving landlords a bad name

    Show a locksmith a “lease” and have him make you a new set of keys. Then if she wants to kick you out she will have to pay you $5000 (crappy SF anti-landlord law that you should use in your favor)
    “if” she calls the cops show them the cashed check and don’t leave… And for now on have a nice paper trail, buy an iflip for $150 at cosco and video tape all of your future dealing with her.
    Sorry this happened to you, that lady sucks

  11. Posted by giving landlords a bad name

    On top of that google “rachel smith”
    http://sfist.com/2010/07/30/victims_of_rachael_smith_unite.php
    Go to the same cop that was handeling her case and say that you are affraid that this woman was inspired by this type of fraud and want to nip this in the but before she can con dozens of others.
    Contact SFPD Inspector John Monroe at (415) 553-1936

  12. Posted by sfrenegade

    Her tax notices go to Vallejo where her mom was living.
    Btw, the new owner of her house is real estate investor from Saratoga who also invests in other properties around the Greater Bay Area. It’s the family business, and he’s related to the guy who used to own Birk’s in Santa Clara.

  13. Posted by Mike

    I took her to small claims, won and never saw a dime. She’s a complete fraud. I even wrote a letter to Diane Kamla’s to do something about this, I was told that since it was a rental issue, they couldn’t do anything and to go to the rental board? When do multiple civil infractions turn criminal?

  14. Posted by lyqwyd

    I can’t understand how the police are saying this is merely a civil matter, to me it’s got to be either fraud or embezzlement.

  15. Posted by alazyman

    Mike, with the judgement, can you put a lien on any property she owns? Also, you may be able to collect from the bank if you know where she has a bank account. Did she deposit your check into her account?

  16. Posted by sfrenegade

    “I can’t understand how the police are saying this is merely a civil matter, to me it’s got to be either fraud or embezzlement.”
    Probably for a few reasons:
    1) people probably complain to the police a lot in situations like this, and it’s hard to separate bona fide fraud from simple contractual disputes
    2) it’s hard to prove a criminal fraud case, so sometimes they don’t even bother
    3) it’s small fry
    Interesting thought to consider stealing a deposit as embezzlement. But if she stole first month’s rent, it’d be something else.

  17. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    All fraud / rip-off type cases are “civil matters” unless (a) the person being ripped off is wealthy or well-connected (b) the media gets ahold of it or (c) the amount in question is huge (e.g. millions).
    One of my exes was taken for $75k by a guy she was seeing at the time … the police wouldn’t even take down a report. My father in law lost $40k in a scam and recovered $25k after spending $15k on lawyers’ fees in court. I lost $8k to a ‘consultant’ who turned in fake timesheets and did no work. I didn’t even bother filing a report let alone pursuing it in court.
    White-collar fraud perpetrated against individuals and small businesses is rarely even investigated by the police let alone prosecuted. In my opinion you have to steal millions to get on their radar these days. (And if you steal trillions, like the bankers did over the last couple of years, your immunity from prosecution is just about guaranteed).

  18. Posted by mike

    Putting a judgement/ lien on anything she owns requires a signed statement of assets which she’s impossible to track down and sign. The amount of time spent with just the small claims court case (went to trial 2x) she didnt show up the 2nd time was enough. After spending almost 6 months and probably $4000 in personal time trying to get my deposit back I had to cut bait. Spending more time/money to get a statement of asssets out of her would have been a nightmare. Winning the small claims case was easy. Getting the money is not.

  19. Posted by bgelldawg

    Pilar:
    Please call Laurel Pollack at the D.A.’s consumer protection unit. She is very familiar with this woman and her history. Keep calling until you reach her. She may be able to help you convince the D.A. to file a criminal case. The phone number is 551-9575.
    Laurel has been doing consumer protection work since the 70’s and is a high energy wonderful person, but this may take some follow up and persistence on your part.
    Small claims court would be a waste of your time. She ignores the judgments.

  20. Posted by ripped

    [Removed by Editor] i had the exact same thing happen to me and the police were all over it…dont see why they would’nt go after a high profile [person like Arden]. i got my money back and u should to.

  21. Posted by A.T.

    Again, call the cops. Good advice to call the D.A. too. Those who think one can steal a couple thousand from somebody with impunity because cops think it is just “a civil matter” are just wrong. People do get away with this kind of crap all the time, but that’s just because most people lick their wounds and don’t bother to report it.

  22. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    It is difficult but not impossible in this city to get the police to do their job. Go to the station house in person and ask to file a complaint. If they will not take your complaint ask to talk to the duty supervisor. If he refuses, politely ask for his name or business card or at the least get a badge number.
    Do not get angry with the police or behave in a threatening manner or anything. This seems obvious but some people think that the way to get what they want is to bully people. This will not work with the police department. You should also make sure that you present yourself in the most clean cut and respectable manner you can when you go down there.
    Follow up by emailing the Officer-in-Charge of the precinct, usually a Captain. You can find their email address here:
    http://sf-police.org/index.aspx?page=797
    Of course, it works better if you have already cultivated a good relationship with your precinct captain, but all of them are going to be good at public relations.
    If all else fails, you can contact your elected Board of Supervisors representative. Most of them are pretty good about getting back to. Beven Dufty is my Supervisor and he is excellent at helping his constituents navigate the bureaucracy.
    I also got good results from Matt Gonzalez when he was my Supervisor in District 5.
    Again, this is a case where you are going to have the best luck if you have cultivated a relationship with your Supervisor. Helping them with the GOTV (get out the vote) on election night and showing up to celebrate at election HQ afterward is probably the easiest way to do that (and fun to boot!) though even just emailing them and asking for help and thanking them is good.
    Contact information for the BoS is here:
    http://www.sfbos.org/
    There is also an on-line reporting system here:
    http://www.sf-police.org/index.aspx?page=778
    I have no experience with the latter though, let me know if it works for you.
    I have not had any luck with the DA’s office, if anyone has any pointers I am all ears. I haven’t tried going down there in person, but if it was important to me, I certainly would not hesitate to do so.

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