Thursday, March 16, 2017

Northern NJ Pair Pinched, Face Theft By Deception Charges For Allegedly Using Craigslist Ads To Run Online Rent Scams; Multiple Would-Be Tenants Get Fleeced Out Of Thousands In Upfront Cash Deposits; Detectives Believe Add'l Victims May Come Forward

In Linden, New Jersey, myCentralJersey.com reports:
  • Following a five-month investigation, a man and a woman have been arrested in connection with operating a series of rental housing scams, including in Linden last summer.

    Allan Betancourt, 45, and Myra Sullivan, 40, both of Union, who operated under the alias of Marcos Cardenas and Mirna Grant, were arrested Feb. 22 following an investigation by Linden Detective David Kother. Betancourt and Sullian are accused of defrauding multiple victims of more than $9,000 by falsely listing apartments for rent on Craigslist.

    They have both been charged with theft by deception and were released pending a court appearance.

    On Aug. 14, 2016, Linden police took reports from a Linden couple and an Elizabeth couple who were scammed out of nearly $5,000 in cash after answering a fake ad for a Cedar Avenue apartment in Linden.

    A 30-year-old man and a 27-year-old woman, both from Elizabeth, paid $2,650 in cash to a man named "Marcos" for two months' rent and a lease agreement for the Cedar Avenue apartment. When they went to move in, the key they were given did not work.

    The couple called "Marcos" but were unable to reach him. Police contacted the property owner who said he did not offer any apartment for rent.

    While at the Cedar Avenue home, police encountered a second couple from Linden who said they had paid $2,2000 in cash as a security deposit and signed a lease agreement for the same apartment listed on Craigslist. The couple said they had met a woman earlier in the month named "Mirna" who took their money and had them sign a lease agreement.

    Residents were warned to be cautious of scams involving cash deposits up front before inspecting the property. Prospective tenants also were encouraged to ask to see documentation that the landlord is the actual owner of the property by checking a tax bill or utility receipt.

    Police Chief Jonathan Parham said the public played a critical role in identifying Betancourt and Sullivan.

    "The credit for these arrests belongs to the dozens of citizens who cooperated with detectives to make the identification of these suspects possible," Parham said.

    Police also thanked Union Township Police Detective Patrick Bradley for his help in the investigation. Last Friday, [March 3] Union police announced the arrest of Betancourt for similar scams.

    Union Township police had received reports from several people that they had given money to Betancourt to reserve an apartment in town in which he took the deposits but never allowed anyone to move into the apartment, according to the Union Township Police Department Facebook page.

    Linden police said the cases remain under investigation and detectives believe there may be additional victims. Anyone who has been victimized by Betancourt and Sullivan is asked to report the incident to the police department where the incident occurred.

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home