Lakeville woman charged in rent deposit swindle

A Lakeville woman is facing a felony charge for allegedly taking deposit money from multiple people seeking to rent a house she’d advertised on Craigslist.

Monica T. Lillemoen, 38, is accused of receiving deposits ranging from $400 to $600 from a total of six people. Police say that Lillemoen never ended up renting the house, and that none of the victims saw the return of their deposit money.

The criminal complaint gives the following account:

A woman contacted Lakeville police Feb. 18 to report that she’d responded to Lillemoen’s ad on Craigslist, and that on Dec. 29 she and her family did a walk-through with Lillemoen at the house on the 17000 block of Georgetown Way in Lakeville.

When Lillemoen told her that the application she’d filled out had been approved, she paid a $600 cash deposit and was informed she would be able to move in late February or early March.

On Feb. 8, the victim received an email from Lillemoen claiming she was going through a divorce, was no longer living in the house, and was unsure what to do about the deposit.

Despite repeated attempts to get the deposit back, the victim reported, she never received a refund. In one incident, her husband went to the home on Georgetown Way; he saw Lillemoen inside the home but she refused to come to the door.

An investigation by Lakeville police revealed that six individuals had given rent deposits to Lillemoen for the same home on Georgetown Way. Each of the victims later received notification from Lillemoen that “things had fallen apart and that they would not be able to move in,” the complaint said.

The investigation also revealed that Lillemoen was not the owner of the house on Georgetown Way but was herself a renter, and that the terms of her lease didn’t permit her to sublet it.

Lillemoen has been charged with one felony count of theft by swindle. If convicted, she faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

She’s scheduled to appear in court on May 6.