The scourge of real estate crime has become so prevalent in Brooklyn these days that even a former city council official has been scammed, according to the district attorney for Brooklyn.
Recently, 18 individuals have been locked up following charges by the Mortgage Fraud and Real Estate Crimes Unit in the city. DA Charles Hynes said they were convicted of a whole host of scams, ranging from reverse mortgage swindles which target the elderly to loan modification schemes such as the one that befell ex-councilman Kendall Stewart.
In three high profile loan-modification plots, including the own which fooled Stewart, conmen posed as financial service specialists in order to solicit prohibited upfront payments, by claiming they could stave off foreclosures through loan modifications.
Another brazen scam saw a man named Ralph Baker make a cheeky attempt to fool the DA’s office into helping him recoup $1.7 million which he claimed had been swindled from him in an earlier crime. There was indeed a case that involved a Mr. Ralph Baker recently. However, when the DA’s office investigated, they found that the property involved in that case belonged to another Ralph Baker, not the one who was claiming the money.
The Mortgage Fraud and Real Estate Crimes Unit was established in 2009 following a federal grant of $875,000 arranged by Senator Charles Schumer, who was present at the announcement yesterday.