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Craigslist Scammer Targets Renters in Poconos

MIDDLE SMITHFIELD TOWNSHIP — An ad on Craigslist to rent out a home in the Poconos for half price seemed too good to be true. And it was.

The property owner in Monroe County says he filed a report with police saying he was part of an internet scam.

Potential renters thought a three-bedroom home in the Poconos advertised on Craigslist – an online classified ad site — for $600 a month sounded too good to be true.

But dozens stopped to check it out anyway, running into the real owner, and a big scam.

It sounds too good to be true: rent three-bedrooms, two-baths all utilities included for $600 a month in Winona Lakes near Marshalls Creek.

The owner of this house says he actually is looking to rent it, but that offer is a scam.

“It seems that someone stole the rental information from my real estate agent, and posted the house on Craigslist for half the price,” said John DeLeon.

DeLeon listed his house for rent, and earlier this week he found out about all of this, someone impersonating him on Craigslist, asking interested renters for not just their name and address, but personal information like number of kids, pets, if they work nights, a family photo, and how they would like to pay the deposit and rent.

“Aside from perpetrating a crime against me, he’s trying to rob people, people who really don’t have that kind of money,” said DeLeon.

The ad was up on Craigslist for a few days and the owner of the property says while he was there doing some work, at least five different groups of people stopped by to take a look.

Across the street, neighbors say they’ve had at least 15 people stop by asking questions about the house.

“It’s been crazy. We’ve had people showing up at our door starting from early in the morning and ending at like 10 o’clock at night,” said neighbor Linda Homza.

Now, DeLeon says he’s filed a report with state police, the district attorney’s office in Monroe County, and is trying to track down his impersonator to protect himself and others from this Craigslist scam.

“Anything could happen. People are naïve, they’re gullible. Smarten up. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” said DeLeon.

The ad has since been removed from Craigslist. Deleon’s property in Winona Lakes isn’t the first in this area to get caught up in a Craigslist scam.

The housing association told us another one of their homes was listed as part of a phony rental scam less than two months ago.

8 comments

  • ME2

    Oh, well, people are still dumb enough to use Craigslist for any number of things, even knowing scams on there are so common. Who rents out an apartment that way? Most landlords don’t have to work so hard to rent their places, if the places are any good and renting an entire, “beautiful” house for under its value, should be a tip-off.

  • A.j.

    My girlfriends mom ran into the same problem. The house she found was a beautiful ranch style that only want $600 a month. The adress wasn’t on the ad so she emailed them and got the adress. We went over and say that there was a realtor sign in the front yard. We went over to the neighbors and found out the house wasn’t for rent and the house was for sale and the price was $400,000 btw the house was beautiful. We talked to the real owner and found out were not the first one to come and see the house in reference to the rent add.

    • Bethany

      Also to continue with AJ’s ..all untilities were also included and I actually spoke with the “so called” owners. But I kept thinking this is too good to be true and did a lot of investigating myself because I am not just going hand someone $600 for rent and $600 for deposit. With the help of my daughter and her boyfriend (Aj) and a whole day of going back and forth with this man he wanted me to go get a prepaid Visa card and give him the PIN number and that is how we would transfer money and after I do this then in 24 hrs I would get the keys. Well that was the red flag I want to meet my land lord and when I give money I want the keys. So people please research everything through and through. I also file a report with the local police dept. In the Mt.Top area. And do not send money via prepaid cards money grams or western union. I still have the phone number, the text messages and emails. I am thankful that I have more common sense than to send money. It is sad that these people steal hard earned money from us. I hope this info helps someone. And yes the home is for sale $429,000 or yes you can rent it for $3200/month far cry from $600

  • Kevin Kuhenbeaker

    Craigslist Scam Hotline 1-800-664-0633 This number is off our dashboard page on our MLS System. I’m A Realtor in the Mt. Pocono area, and a year ago we had a listing this happen too. It wasn’t for rent it was for sale. We had a sign on the property and we got calls saying they seen it on Craigslist for $750 a month with heat included! I log onto craigslist right that very minute! They used our pictures and info! I call our Local Real Estate board and told them about it! There was nothing at that time they could do, or can do now! I wrote a complaint to craigslist and heard NOTHING! But two weeks later and a dozen calls about it, it was gone! I even went to someone’s computer that has nothing to do or knows any one that is a Realtor,to respond to the ad just to see what happens,ask 3 times rest of week and got nothing! All I could figure out is that someone with NOTHING better to do, but pull this joke on everyone, and it isn’t very funny! I might of lost that listing over this! Craigslist needs to do more to prevent this or act faster!

  • Angie

    The Craigslist scam regarding the house is nothing new. Two years ago, we had the same thing happen to us in Lycoming County. Our house was listed for sale by a Realtor and we had people stopping saying it was for rent. I don’t think this is a localized issue and I bet it goes on all over the country. Most of the time the scammer will ask for a money order for the rent payment to be mailed out of state or our of the countr

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