It's part of the American Dream: You work hard, you make money, you buy your family a home. But dozens of people in Pennsylvania say they moved into a nightmare.

They're being thrown out of their homes and onto the streets, and it's not because they can't pay the mortgage -- they never even had a mortgage to begin with.

Some 50 hardworking families, mostly immigrants, in Hazleton, Pennsylvania bought their homes for cash, only to find eviction notices on their doorsteps.

The alleged scam was reportedly perpetrated by Ignacio Beato, a local real estate agent. The deals seemed too good to be true -- and they were.

Erika Suarez paid cash for a home that was never for sale in the first place. The $27,000 is gone, and so is the man who sold the townhouse.

One family spent $13,000 for a house with a nice yard. Down the street Felix Cabrera paid $32,000 for his home, and even more on fixing it up.

Authorities say Beato found houses either in foreclosure, or bank-owned. He allegedly told the buyers he represented the seller and could knock thousands off the price if they paid cash.

Police say Beato pocketed the money and gave them a bogus deed, making it look like they were the legal homeowner.

In some cases the keys didn't even fit the locks.

"The sad part is some of the victims I've talked to so far were very qualified they could have went to a bank got a loan and purchased a home," said local real-estate broker Brian McCardle.

Beato, a naturalized U.S. citizen from the Dominican Republic, ran for Hazleton City Council. He said he wanted to unite the Hispanic community. He has, but not in a way he might have expected.

Pennsylvania State Police call Beato a person of interest in a real estate fraud investigation.

State Representative Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne) is writing legislation that would prevent this kind of thing from happening again.