Hey, NJ renters: That Craigslist apartment ad could be a scam!
LINDEN — After a five month investigation, two people have been arrested and charged with theft by deception after they ran bogus Craigslist ads promoting apartments for rent, police said.
Allan Betancourt and Myra Sullivan, also known as Marcos Cardenas and Mirna Grant, made more than $9,000 from "multiple victims," police said.
In August the department announced that couples from Linden and Elizabeth had been victims of the scam, combining to spend close to $5,000 on what they thought was an apartment in Linden. The Elizabeth couple, they said, paid $2,650 in cash, which they believed covered two months rent, and a lease agreement for an apartment on Cedar Avenue.
Police said when the couple went to the apartment, the keys they were given by a man they knew as "Marco" did not work, and they were unable to contact him. The police department was able to contact the correct owners of the property who said it was not for rent.
While the officers were at the apartment, they were approached by the second couple who said they had also signed a lease agreement and paid $2,200 in cash for a security deposit. They told police they had met a woman they knew as Mirna, with whom they had also signed a lease agreement.
"The public played a critical role in identifying these suspects," Chief Jonathan Parham said. "The credit for these arrests belongs to the dozens of citizens who cooperated with detectives to make the identification of these suspects possible.
Parham also credited the cooperation of the Union Township Police Department for helping with the investigation and said Betancourt had been arrested there as well for similar scams.
The Linden police warned potential tenants in August to be wary of potential scams involving cash deposits, and encouraged them to check for proper documentation including tax bills or utility receipts.
The case is still under investigation and anyone else who may have been a victim of the two, or have more information is encouraged to contact their local police department.
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