Brittany Mattern, 30, of Albuquerque, was summoned Aug. 8 for forgery and two counts of fraud totaling more than $5,000 at a residence on the 4700 block of Platinum Drive.
According to a criminal complaint filed by the Rio Rancho Police Department, a Rio Rancho landlord/homeowner called for assistance July 31 claiming he was a victim of fraud and forgery. He owns the Platinum Drive residence and told police the renter was avoiding payments.
He said he went to the house to confront Mattern, the property’s renter. When he arrived, he found that the residence was being rented to another family without his knowledge.
He said in June 2018 he met Mattern. They developed a relationship, and she later agreed to move into the house with an the current tenant, who was struggling with rent payments. He said when that individual left the residence, Mattern agreed to continue to rent the house for $1,000 per month and signed a lease agreement.
The landlord said everything was running smoothly until March 2020, when COVID-19 hit, making it hard for Mattern to pay her full rent because she lost her job. He said that he worked with her over the next two years, until the end of 2022. The last payment he ever received from Mattern was $500 in December 2022.
He said he started looking at getting Mattern evicted and having a property management company list his house for rent instead of doing it personally. He and his family then drove from Arizona to New Mexico on July 19.
On July 20, he said he drove to the house around 2:30 p.m. and found the house in pretty good condition. However, someone he didn’t recognize answered the door. The landlord introduced himself and told the occupant that he was there to give Mattern a three-day eviction notice. The man explained that she didn’t live at the residence anymore, that she moved out a few months ago and that she was renting the house out to him and his family. The owner was told that Mattern presented herself as the owner of the residence and even set up a lease agreement with them.
The man showed the owner a copy of the lease, which showed Mattern as the “lessor” and the man as the “lessee.” It stated the deposit would be $1,000 with monthly rent at $1,200. The man’s wife even pulled out a “receipt,” which was a sticky note with Mattern’s signature, that proved they had paid Mattern $2,200 in cash for a deposit and first month’s rent May. They also had screenshots showing they had paid for June and July’s rent, both for $1,200.
The occupant then called Mattern and asked her why the owner was there to serve a three-day eviction notice. She replied that “she would talk with the owner about it,” not knowing he was present. When she was informed the owner was there, she was at a loss for words. The owner
On July 31, officers got contacted the occupant’s wife, asking how they ended up in the house and how they knew Mattern. She said in April 2023 Mattern listed the house for rent and her husband was interested. She said she did feel it was too good to be true and something seemed a little off — because of the sticky note receipt — but they continued with the process.
The wife said that everything was fine over the last two months and they paid on time for June and July. She said they have the screenshots from PayPal that Mattern accepted the money. She added that it was July 20 when the actual owner came to the house and knocked on the door and that they were blindsided by his arrival. She said she was worried that they were going to left out on the street with nowhere to live and that they were extremely upset because Mattern had collected approximately $4,600 from them fraudulently.
When officers contacted Mattern at her place of work Aug. 2, she told them that she had “roommates” and that she left the house. Officers asked if she was sure they were “roommates” and she said they were previously but that “they continued on with the lease,” confirming that it was the couple currently living there. Officers then asked why she didn’t tell the owner that her roommates continued with the lease, and she said she wanted them to have a place to stay. Officers asked how long she knew the couple, and she said that they’ve known each other for years.
Officers asked when she started renting the house from the owner, and it was May 2023, which is when she began fraudulently renting the property to the couple. She then corrected herself and stated that she been renting for about six or seven years. They then asked why she hadn’t paid her rent since December 2022. She said that she was having a lot of personal issues and was in a dark place because of personal and family issues and at that certain point she just didn’t care anymore. She said she wanted to stay at the house but there were also a lot of “bad memories.”
Officers asked Mattern how she then decided to rent out the house. She said it was just an alternative or backup plan so she could have people help her pay the rent and decide if she wanted to live there.
Officers also asked Mattern why she posted the house for rent on Facebook in 2020, but she quickly stated that was false. She said that the husband was working in Rio Rancho and that they had talked about the house in person but that she never posted anything on Facebook. She said she was considering moving back to California at that time, but that’s when COVID hit. Officers then asked her why she thought that was a good idea and asked if she even knew if she was allowed to do that without the homeowner’s permission. She said she probably should have checked if she was allowed to in the lease agreement.
She said she was under the impression that she could sell it since she was renting from her ex-boyfriend — the owner of the house — so she posted it on Facebook in 2022 and again in 2023. She also admitted to getting the lease off a real estate website and signing the sticky note.
Officers issued her a summons to appear in court for the fraud and forgery charges. If convicted, Mattern will face a minimum of 4 1/2 years in prison.
The owner is currently working on a new lease agreement for the family staying at the house.