Galesburg police investigate fake property lister soliciting application fees and rent

Samuel Lisec
Galesburg Register-Mail

GALESBURG — The Galesburg Police Department is investigating a theft that took place after a person impersonated a property owner and requested fees from an interested renter.

According to a Galesburg police report, a woman told the police that they saw a listing for an apartment advertised on Facebook Marketplace. The woman spoke with the man over the phone who listed the advertisement online about renting it starting Dec. 30, 2022.

Police looked at the messages between the woman and the apartment lister, who presented himself as if he had legal right to lease the property. The woman was emailed an application and was requested to give an application fee and down payment to take the apartment off the market.

The woman sent approximately $250 to a Cash App account the lister said belonged to "hisattorney."

After sending the money, the woman was requested to send an additional $400 for first month’s rent. The woman sent the money and made arrangements to meet the lister at the apartment to be given keys, but the lister failed to show up on Jan. 13, Jan. 14 and Jan. 15. 

When the woman questioned the lister for not showing up, he then requested money for other added fees. The woman then contacted Galesburg Police.

The police report states that the profile for the lister had no information and limited photos, leading an officer to believe it was a fake account. An officer went to the address and found it to be a duplex. A resident there advised the officer that the apartment is vacant and provided the phone number of the property’s manager.The property manager told the officer over the phone that she manages the apartment and it was for rent but she had received no applications or money from the woman. The property manager said her business does not take money over Cash App and that the company only lists properties on websites like Zillow.com, Apartments.com or Realtor.com. 

The manager said whoever listed the property for rent on Facebook did not have permission to do so.

The detective and the officer put a preservation request through Facebook for the lister’s account. A local database showed negative results for either the lister’s name or their supposed attorney.

The report says the police are waiting for the woman to send screenshots of her messages with the lister to the Galesburg Police Department. The case is pending further investigation.