Scammers pose as a pastor to steal money from Aurora victims in fake rental posting on Craigslist

Posted at 7:40 PM, Oct 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-18 21:40:33-04

AURORA, Colo. -- The FBI has been alerted to a rental scam happening in Colorado and across the country. It involves a pastor in Pennsylvania, a real estate agent in Castle Pines, a home for sale in Aurora and a post on Craigslist.

The Craigslist ad lists an Aurora home for sale for only $400 and the scammer poses as a pastor to prey on people's faith.  

Denver7 tracked down the homeowners who say the home is not for rent -- it's for sale.  

"How did he expect to rent my house," said homeowner Blaise Stone. "I think it's a bunch of crap, I want to know who this guy is."

Blaise and Angie Stone own the home and live next door. They said they had no idea someone was using their listing photos online to scam people into renting it.

"I think it's kind of phony, not that I'm a scam artist, but I think I could have done better," he said.

That's because while the exterior photos are the same, Blaise said the interior photos don't match at all. They include furniture and an upgraded kitchen, both things he said his house does not have.

"I wish I had that kitchen in the ad, but I don’t." Blaise said.

The scammer even tries to explain why there's a for sale sign out front of the house by blaming the actual realtor.

Writing in one email to a prospective renter, "The listing agent whose name is (Shawn Kelley) inflates the price do [sic] to her selfish benefits it takes longer to sell or rent it."

The email goes on to say, "I preferred to rent it out myself for safety purposes and she is not meant to be contacted for security reason."

But Blaise quickly pointed out: "That's a guy, Shawn Kelley's a guy."

The scammer also poses as a man of faith, to gain the victim's trust, writing things like "must have good rental history because this is a Christian house."

They claim to be Pastor Dave Heckler, using his Facebook photo and a similar email address.

"No, this isn't real," said the actual Pastor Dave Heckler, from Pennsylvania. "I'm pretty ticked off about it."

Pastor Dave told Denver7 it's happened so many different times, to different people, in multiple states that he put this post on Facebook warning about the scam:

Pastor Dave also said he filed a complaint with the FBI online. 

"It's a scam because I don't own a house, I don't have one to rent," he said. 

For the Stone's, it's been a wake up call. 

"Somebody needs to be held accountable, nobody's accountable anymore," said Blaise.