Queens ‘con man’ sentenced for stealing more than $40K from victims in rental scams: DA

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz returned more than $40,000 to victims of Shab Khan’s rent scam during a meeting with them at her offices last January.
Photo courtesy of DA’s office

A Richmond Hill man was sentenced to 3 1/2 to seven years in prison Monday for stealing more than $40,000 through rental and investment scams, according to the Queens District Attorney’s Office.

Shahab Khan, 44, of 127th Street, was sentenced by Queens Supreme Court Judge Gary Minet on Dec. 18, more than a year after he pleaded guilty to grand larceny and scheme to defraud charges. As part of his sentence, Khan has paid $40,175 in full restitution to his victims.

According to the charges, between December 2017 and August 2018, Khan scammed prospective tenants by advertising a newly renovated basement apartment in his house for rent on Craiglist and Apartments.com. After showing the apartment, Khan requested cash from multiple victims wanting to move into the apartment to purportedly cover rent and security deposits.

Most of the victims turned over between $1,725 to $3,600. In exchange, Khan provided receipts and leases with specific move-in dates. On several occasions, Khan accepted deposits from more than one victim on the same day, with the same move-in date. On or near each promised move-in date, Khan delayed each victim’s move with various excuses.

Khan never permitted anyone to move into the basement apartment, authorities said. He offered various excuses or completely cut off communications with the would-be renters. Victims were left with accrued storage and moving truck fees, suspended or closed bank accounts from depositing the bad checks that Khan gave as a “refund” from his own closed bank accounts, and often with no money to secure another rental apartment.

Khan also scammed a Queens couple out of $9,600 by promising to use the money to fund a real estate closing transaction, which would guarantee returns that would triple or quadruple their “investment” within a matter of weeks. Instead, the victims demanded refunds or payouts after months of broken promises and delays, while Khan provided bad “refund” checks from various bank accounts — which were closed.

“This defendant victimized people in his own community,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said. “These were hard-working people looking for a place to call home or trying to get ahead and he took advantage and exploited them. For many of the victims, the rental deposit they gave to the defendant was everything they had. Fortunately, we were able to secure restitution for the victims and the defendant will serve time in prison.”

Khan pleaded guilty to the scam on Oct. 7, 2022, while also pleading guilty to an unrelated attempted grand larceny case.

He was charged in the latter case for renting eight box trucks from Enterprise, each valued at more than $50,000, using stolen credit cards and checks from closed accounts. He then re-rented the trucks to unsuspecting customers for as much as $3,000 a week. He never returned the trucks to Enterprise. Khan was sentenced to two to four years in prison to be served concurrently with the other sentence.