Craigslist scammers preying on the Peoria area

By Beau Ebenezer

June 8, 2013 Updated Jun 12, 2013 at 2:18 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Finding a new place to live for Peoria resident Alyssa Valdez seemed like it would be a walk in the park.

Especially after receiving an email back from a Pastor Shane Moore, who posted a rental home at 2811 N. Wisconsin Avenue on Craigslist.

"It used to be his house, but his family was moving," said Valdez. "They were in Chicago, and then they were going to be in Hawaii. He had all of these different jobs."

As the emails progressed, Valdez became suspicious.

"He wanted the deposit money as soon as possible," said Valdez. "He wanted it that day. Since he wasn't in the Peoria area, he wanted me to send it through a Moneygram. That was kind of the first red flag that I noticed."

Valdez talked to the current resident of the house, but the resident said she rented directly Principle Property Management in Peoria and not a pastor.

"It's textbook for the rental scam," said Bonnie Bakin of the Better Business Bureau of Peoria. "First of all, the person is advertising the property at an extremely reasonable rate. Number two, the person is out of the country, or they claim to be a missionary so they can't get to the property."

For Valdez, the rental scam checklist was almost down to a tee.

The "so called" Pastor Shane Moore would consistently mention his work as a minister, and he said that the monthly rate of the house was low because he just wanted a good person to take care of it while he was away.

The Craigslist pictures he used, were straight from the Principle Property website.

Peoria Police Detectives said if you think your being scammed, report it at ic3.gov.

"They might be familiar with one of these incidents going on," said Detective Paul Deeb. "If you just want to contact us ahead of time for concerns, we may have seen it before and will be able to warn you ahead of time too."

Valdez was referred to report the crime to the website.

The Wisconsin Avenue Craigslist post is still up, but there have been no other reported cases of the scam.

Better Business Bureau officials said the best way to assure you are not being scammed is to go directly through a rental management company instead of websites like Craigslist.

Company's like Moneygram have more information regarding scams on their website, www.moneygrampreventfraud.com.

If you believe you have been scammed while using Moneygram contact them at 1-800-MONEYGRAM (800-666-3947).

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