Monday, June 22, 2015

Brooklyn Man Faces Charges Of Using Forged Deeds To Hijack Title To Five NYC Apartment Buildings Out From Under Their Unwitting Owners; Manhattan DA: "[C]rimes Like These Become Easier & Easier In The Digital Age"

From the Office of the New York County (Manhattan) District Attorney (via The Real Deal (NYC)):
  • Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., [] announced the indictment of JOHN KOJO ZI, 53, a purported property developer, for fraudulently obtaining titles to five buildings on the Upper West Side and in Hamilton Heights by filing forged deed transfers with the New York City Register’s Office (“Register’s Office”).

    ZI is charged in a New York State Supreme Court indictment with Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, Grand Larceny in the First Degree and Second Degrees, and Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, among other charges.[1]

    “By filing forged deed transfers and lying on official forms, this defendant allegedly defrauded three Manhattan property owners, stealing five buildings out from under them,” said District Attorney Vance. “Deed fraudsters use publicly available housing data to target properties that are not actively managed by their owners, including those that are falling into disrepair, or burdened with tax liens and unpaid utilities.

    Frequently, that means properties whose owners are the most susceptible to fraud, including the elderly – or even the estate of a deceased individual. We will aggressively prosecute those who would manipulate official filings for their own profit, as crimes like these become easier and easier in the digital age.”

    “We will continue to send the message that fraudulent activity associated with the transfer of deeds will not be tolerated,” said New York City Finance Commissioner Jacques Jiha. “We have already strengthened our internal processes with the City Register and the Sheriff’s office, which have led to these types of arrests, and we are currently pursuing legislation.”

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