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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -
Police say a Charlotte woman is charging renters thousands of dollars to live in homes she doesn't own. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police (CMPD) said on Friday, Mele Tonga could be part of a larger ring.
Tonga runs a company called Aloha Consultants in Charlotte, and she insists she's done nothing wrong. A police search warrant says Tonga does not own the homes and she's not legally allowed to rent them out.
According to a search warrant obtained by WBTV, Tonga rented three homes to people, when she did not have the authority. According to the warrant, the homes are in foreclosure.
"She's committing a crime," said CMPD Lt. Brian Foley.
The first home is located at 3831 Riceland Place. Authorities say the home was supposed to be empty, but when they showed up last week, people were living inside. According to the warrant, the people inside told police Mele Tonga gave them access to the house. The warrant says Tonga made $2500 for renting the home to the couple inside.
The second home is located at 1333 Harland Street, and the situation is very similar. The two people inside say they rented from Tonga, and her company, Aloha Consultants. The warrant says the people inside paid Tonga $2000 in cash.
The third home is at 17313 Knoxwood Drive in Huntersville. Like the two other homes, it is supposed to be empty, but earlier this week, police say someone was living inside and he paid Tonga $2000 in cash.
"In this day in age, you don't know what's going on or what to expect," said neighbor Joey Ketchie, who saw police outside the home.
The search warrant says Tonga goes by the nickname "Hawaii." We went by her house and we were told she wasn't home. Later, we tracked her down on the phone.
"I do not take people's money for rent. I am a consultant," she said.
Tonga told WBTV she's out of town, and wasn't able to talk on camera, but says she's not worried about police, and she's working toward her real estate license.
"People pick on me because I'm such a nice person and I notice that people here in Charlotte, when you go out of your way to try to help them, they turn on you," she said.
Even though police searched her home on Monday, Tonga was not arrested for the three homes mentioned above. As of Friday, February 21, police have three arrest warrants in her name. Police say Tonga's criminal record dates back to 1979.
WBTV checked and Tonga is not a licensed realtor in North Carolina.