By Mark Hallum
A group of elderly people and one disabled veteran awaiting an organ transplant were allegedly defrauded out of their homes by a Bellerose-based real estate development company, among others, according to the Queens DA.
In an operation offering fraudulent financial assistance to homeowners, 11 individuals, Kings Development Group of Queens and Yisroel Services Corp. of Brooklyn are accused of conning residents into signing over the deeds to their property before charging them rent or evicting them and then filling the homes with new tenants at $1,000 a head per month.
“Instead of tossing the victims a lifeline, half of whom were elderly individuals, the defendants are accused of creating a financial nightmare for the homeowners and placing them in worse financial situations than when first contacted by the defendants,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said. “As a result of the alleged fraudulent deed transfer scheme, the homeowners are no longer the titled owners of their own properties and therefore cannot move toward a resolution with their own mortgage companies. In each case, the homeowner must retain a real estate attorney to have the fraudulent deed reversed, resulting in additional financial hardships on them.”
Kings Development Group is located at 246-15 Jericho Turnpike.
The disabled veteran was approached by a Kings representatives at a Veterans Administration hospital in 2013, Brown said. While on medication, the man and his wife signed paperwork that the representative said would help them resolve their financial woes. One of the documents, however, was allegedly a deed transfer which made Kings Development Group the new owner of their home, according to the DA.
According to Brown, Kings also approached a single mother of five whose house was in foreclosure about providing assistance by restoring her credit and finding her a new home. Kings removed her from her home and placed her in a home owned by another person, who evicted the woman and her children, the DA said. The family was forced to turn to a homeless shelter for several months.
The alleged scheme took place between August 2012 and January 2017, with the DA and New York City Sheriff’s Department launching an investigation in 2014.
“The Sheriff’s Office stands ready to investigate and arrest those who threaten the physical and financial security of people in their homes,” New York City Sheriff Joseph Fucito said. “We hope that these arrests send a strong message that the victimization of homeowners will not be tolerated. We will continue to work with our partners in the City Register’s Office and the district attorney to diligently identify and counter criminal activity with unrelenting momentum.”
The defendants have been arraigned on varying charges of criminal possession of stolen property, falsifying business records, offering a false instrument for filing, grand larceny, unlawful eviction, fourth-degree criminal facilitation, fraudulently obtaining a signature and scheme to defraud, the DA said. The individuals face prison sentences between four and 25 years, while common felony charges for a corporation call for a fine of about $10,000 or double the amount of illegal gain.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall