Tenant repeatedly scammed landlords to live rent-free in expensive parts of Silicon Valley

Houses stand in this aerial photograph taken near Cupertino, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019. Facebook Inc. is following other tech titans like Microsoft Corp. and Google, pledging to use its deep pockets to ease the affordable housing

One woman has been able to live in Silicon Valley's most expensive areas rent-free for the past decade- and now, she's been convicted for it.

Santa Clara County officials said Rebecca Violette, also known as "Rebekah Violette," scammed local landlords into renting their homes to her by writing bad checks for the first and last months' rent and then subsequently refusing to pay rent when caught. 

This would force landlords to go through the "lengthy and expensive" eviction process to have her forcibly moved. 

"Renters and landlords should all be cautious. Anyone could fall victim to a well-honed scheme," District Attorney Jeff Rosen said. "We encourage careful background checks before renting to anyone."

Violette was sentenced to two years and four months in prison.


L.A. 'Tenant from Hell' tried a similar scheme in Oakland in 2019

Elizabeth Hirschhorn, the "Tenant from Hell" currently occupying a guest house at a palatial estate in Los Angeles, faced a similar situation in Oakland just months before she moved into the L.A. home, court records show.

But it's not the first time she has done this.

Officials said the 62-year-old has a history of pulling the same scam and has served several stints in prison for it.

Even though she was previously sentenced to jail for doing the same thing back in 2014, according to the Mercury News, that didn't stop the Menlo Park woman from fooling a few more unsuspecting landlords. The newspaper previously identified Violette as a real estate agent in earlier reports.

Violette appeared to be wealthy and an affluent investor to landlords who fell for her con. She would lie about her prior eviction history and income, officials said.

The neighborhoods or cities Violette targeted weren't specified, only that they were some of the most ritzy and lavish places in Silicon Valley.