Queens DA Busts Alleged Mortgage Assistance Scam That Duped Financially Distressed Homeowners Into Unwittingly Signing Over Title To Their Homes; Nine Pinched (Including 3 Lawyers), Two Others Remain Loose
- Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, joined by New York City Sheriff Joseph Fucito, today (March 1) announced that a Queens County grand jury has charged eleven individuals – including three attorneys(1) – and two real estate corporations with preying on New York City homeowners in financial distress and defrauding them into signing over their properties. Nine of the individuals are presently in custody and the remaining two are being sought.
District Attorney Brown, “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. 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.”
***The investigation into Kings Development Group was jointly conducted by the Queens District Attorney Office’s Economic Crimes Bureau and the New York City Sheriff Office’s Deed Fraud Unit and allegedly revealed a fraudulent real estate operation in which the “purported assistance” that the defendants offered was actually no assistance at all in resolving the homeowners’ problems with their properties but rather a scheme to get homeowners to unknowingly sign over the deeds to their property.
***The alleged scheme took place between August 2012 and January 2017 and while the defendants allegedly collected rental income from individuals or from the City’s Housing Authority or Human Resources Administration (who were paying shelter expenses for individuals residing at the properties), the homeowners’ properties continued to undergo the foreclosure process and the homeowners’ credit continued to be destroyed.
- Attorney Michael Herskowitz, 37, of Brooklyn, charged with second-degree grand larceny, second-degree criminal possession of stolen property, fraudulently obtaining a signature and first degree scheme to defraud.
Attorney Yariv Katz, 43, of New Rochelle, charged with first-degree scheme to defraud, second degree grand larceny, second-degree criminal possession of stolen property, fraudulently obtaining a signature and first-degree scheme to defraud.
Attorney (suspended) Sanford Solny, 59, of Brooklyn, charged with first- and second-degree criminal possession of stolen property, second-degree grand larceny, fraudulently obtaining a signature, first-degree offering a false instrument for filing, first-degree falsifying business records and first-degree scheme to defraud.