A Brooklyn man was charged in a scheme to steal a Jamaica home from an elderly widow by claiming she died and he was her son, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.
Christopher Williams, 41, of Glenmore Avenue in Brownsville, was arraigned June 9 before Queens Criminal Court Judge Joseph Kasper on a complaint charging him with grand larceny, falsifying business records, identity theft, scheme to defraud and other crimes. Williams allegedly used forged paperwork to claim ownership of a home in Jamaica that he then sold for nearly $300,000 in cash.
According to the charges, the victim and her sister inherited the home from their father, who passed away in 2011. Two years later, one sister bought out the other and became the sole owner of the Dunlop Avenue home in Jamaica. The residence remained empty for several years with the victim planning renovations that became stalled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Katz said in August 2021, the homeowner received a notification that a new deed, mortgage and other documents had been filed with the Office of The City Register regarding the ownership of the two-story dwelling. Investigators found that in early August 2021, deed-transfer documents were filed with the NYC Department of Finance, Office of the City Register transferring ownership of the home from the defendant, who was listed as the sole heir to the estate of the victim, to a buyer.
According to the complaint, the documents also show that the property was allegedly sold by Williams for $270,000 on Aug. 6, 2021. A deed transfer was submitted along with a notification that a mortgage in the amount of $360,000 had been acquired against the property by the new owner.
Katz said that in order to sell the home, the defendant was required to submit several documents, including his birth certificate and the death certificates for the victim and her father, who was a retired police officer. All documents were provided and the closing proceeded. A review of the birth certificate listed the victim as the defendant’s mother, even though her last name was misspelled. An allegedly forged death certificate for the victim included the property’s address and date of death as July 9, 2017.
This all occurred without the victim’s knowledge or consent and while she was very much alive, according to the DA’s office.
“As alleged, the defendant scammed his way into ownership of property that was never legally his before selling the house for hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Katz said. “Deed fraud is unfortunately on the rise throughout the borough and oftentimes, the rightful property owner is not aware that their home was taken away through fraudulent means. That is why the Housing & Worker Protection Bureau I created within the first year of taking office is dedicated to the investigation and prosecution of such crimes. No one should suffer the loss of homeownership at the hands of fraudsters. The defendant has been charged accordingly and faces prison time if convicted.”
Judge Kasper set the defendant’s return date for July 28. Williams faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
“Deed fraud continues to be a priority of the sheriff’s office and we will continue to conduct joint investigations with the Queens district attorney’s office and other prosecutors to arrest those individuals engaged in this criminal activity and restore ownership to the victims of these fraudulent schemes,” New York City Sheriff Anthony Miranda said. “The victim in this investigation is an elderly woman and all too often these investigations involve targeting our city’s most vulnerable communities and individuals.”