Elwood woman wanted for scamming property renters over Facebook
LATEST: Megan Stoner was booked into the Hamilton County jail on Thursday morning, online records show. Her bail was set at $25,000 after an initial hearing Friday afternoon. She remained in the jail on Friday night.
FISHERS, Ind. (WISH) — Hamilton Superior Court 5 has issued an arrest warrant for a woman accused of scamming people by listing false rental properties on Facebook.
Megan Stoner, 25, of Elwood, is wanted for a count of corrupt business influence, four counts of fraud, and four counts of theft, according to court documents released Wednesday. Six of the counts are felonies.
Court documents say Stoner allegedly scammed four people from September 2021 to December 2021 by either listing fake rental properties on Facebook or reaching out to people who had posted on the website they were looking for property to rent.
A Fishers Police Department investigation began in September 2021 after a police report was filed against Stoner for allegedly committing renter fraud.
According to court documents, Stoner listed a unit in a luxury apartment complex in Fishers for rent on Facebook. One person reached out, expressing interest in the unit, and, after touring the apartment, agreed to lease the property from Stoner.
Court documents say the person had signed the lease agreement and sent Stoner $1,700 to cover a security deposit and first month’s rent.
As the time came for the person to move into the apartment, court papers say, Stoner gave the person several excuses, saying she had COVID-19 a few times, or that “she couldn’t move out of the apartment because she was caring for a sick relative.”
The person told investigators that Stoner had given them four move-in dates, all of which Stoner canceled. After the fourth date was canceled, the person requested a refund. Stoner refused to give the refund, and, according to court documents, threatened to block the person if they asked for the refund again.
The person then filed a police report with the Fishers Police Department. In the following months, detectives spoke with three other people who had been scammed by Stoner in similar instances.
According to court documents, two of the people told officers that Stoner had reached out to them via Facebook after they made posts seeking out places to rent. Stoner replied to each person’s respective post, listing a Fishers residence as available for subleasing.
Both people were contacted by Stoner in November 2021, and, after communicating with Stoner, they both viewed the residence with Stoner at separate times.
Court documents say both people agreed to lease the property, signing a lease and establishing move-in dates in December 2021. After both people returned their leases, one sent $1,800 and the second sent Stoner $1,700, covering first month’s rent and a security deposit.
The first person Stoner contacted about the property had not received the keys to the residence two days before the designated move-in date, which was set for early December. When they reached out to Stoner about the keys, Stoner gave them similar excuses, saying the “property wasn’t available until the next day.”
Court papers say that the first person continued to contact Stoner for the keys, and received varying excuses, saying they were “in an accident and had surgery” or “her dad was in ‘ICU.’” The person then asked for a refund, but Stoner refused to refund them or amend the lease agreement.
The second person, who decided a move-in date of mid-December 2021 with Stoner, was originally told by Stoner that she was moving out of the residence and looking for a renter. On the move-in date decided, the second person was told by Stoner they would need more time to move out.
This made the second person suspicious of their agreement with Stoner, court documents say, and through online research, “they found several posts warning about being scammed by Stoner via similar rental schemes.”
After this search, the second person told investigators they learned Stoner was not the property owner, and the address listed on their lease agreement was not the address of the property.
Court documents say a third person spoke with investigators, after inquiring about the same property that Stoner had listed on Facebook. After touring and signing leasing agreements, the third person sent Stoner $600 for a security deposit.
The third person told detectives that they became suspicious of Stoner, and never sent the signed lease or $1,100 for rent to Stoner. According to court papers, the third person discovered they were being scammed after communicating with another person Stoner previously scammed.
The third person demanded a refund from Stoner, which was never refunded.
Since receiving the testimonies from the four people scammed by Stoner, investigators have contacted Stoner through either phone calls or visiting her home.
Detectives visited her home and could not contact Stoner, despite hearing a person inside the residence. They contacted her once through a phone call, where Stoner said her lawyer would be in touch.
Investigators also spoke with the owner of Stoner’s rental property, who confirmed they knew Stoner had scammed the four people and they had been trying to evict Stoner for attempting to sublease the property, which went against guidelines listed in Stoner’s lease.
Investigators say a warrant for Stoner’s arrest was filed Tuesday.
News 8 reached out to the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office inquiring if investigators are continuing to look for other victims of Stoner’s and had not received a response by Wednesday afternoon.