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Authorities search for suspect in real estate scam

LAWRENCEVILLE - The Gwinnett County Police Department is searching for a Hoschton man it believes posed as a real estate agent and took money from people for whom he said he would purchase homes.

Dennis Gutierrez, 33, had two felony warrants obtained against him June 8 by investigators with Gwinnett police's Electronic Crimes and Financial Unit, but they have been handed over to the Gwinnett County Sheriff Fugitive Retrieval Squad, according to Officer Cpl. Darren Moloney, spokesman for the Gwinnett Police. Gutierrez will be charged with theft by deception when caught.

Moloney said the amount Gutierrez received is not known, but it is a minimum of $37,300.

"In March, the offender agreed to sell property for the (property's) owner, which is located in Lawrenceville," Moloney said. "Gutierrez told the owner that he would purchase her home but she would need to give him $1,000 in cash and a refrigerator in order to cover the mortgage payment for the next month until he was able to purchase the property."

Moloney said Gutierrez did not purchase the home but acquired a renter for the property and charged the renter $1,300 a month to rent. However he never purchased the home and never applied the $1,000 given to him by the original owner to the mortgage.

"Since he is not the owner, he had no authority to lease the property," Moloney said. "The original owner is currently going through the foreclosure/bankruptcy process."

According to Moloney, there are several other active cases involving alleged fraudulent activity by Gutierrez.

"In June 2005 Gutierrez told the victim that he would purchase three homes for her in Gwinnett County if she gave him $35,000," Moloney said. "The victim gave him a check for the amount, which he cashed the day after receiving it."

Moloney said Gutierrez never purchased any properties for the alleged victim. He also said Gutierrez is not a licensed real estate agent in Georgia and cannot buy, sell or broker any real estate transactions.

Anyone with information on Gutierrez's whereabouts is asked to call 911.