Welcome to The Home Equity Theft Reporter, a blog dedicated to informing the consumer public and the legal profession about Home Equity Theft issues. This blog will consist of information describing the various forms of Home Equity Theft and links to news reports & other informational sources from throughout the country about the victims of Home Equity Theft and what government authorities and others are doing about it.
Monday, April 17, 2017
Brooklyn DA Bags Accused Title Hijacker Of Allegedly Using Forged Deed To Snatch & Flip Unoccupied House To Unwitting Buyer While Rightful Owner Was Retirement-Wintering In Florida; Victim First Alerted To Potential Ripoff When She Failed To Receive Annual Real Estate Tax Bill & Was Denied In Attempt To Make Online Payment
From the Office of the Kings County, New York District Attorney:
Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, together with New York City Sheriff Joseph Fucito, today [April 5] announced that a Nassau County man has been indicted for illegally transferring the title of a multi-occupancy Canarsie home from its true owner to himself— then selling the property to an unaware buyer. The defendant’s limited liability company is also named in the indictment.
Acting District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant allegedly stole valuable Brooklyn real estate from its rightful owner and brazenly resold it to an unsuspecting buyer. Thanks to the diligence and hard work of our prosecutors and investigators, we were able to expose this defendant’s shameful conduct of alleged fraud and deceit.”
The Acting District Attorney identified the defendant as Kenneth Pearson, 56, of Nassau County, New York. He was arraigned [...] on an indictment in which he is charged with second-degree grand larceny, second- degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, first-degree falsifying business records and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing. He faces up to 7 ½ to 15 years in prison if convicted on the top count. The company, Jean Swilling, LLC, is also variously charged in the indictment. Bail was set at $75,000 bond or $25,000 cash.
The Acting District Attorney said that, according to the indictment, in May 2016, the defendant stole a two-story residential building located on East 85th Street in Canarsie, Brooklyn, by filing—with the Office of the City Register—a real property deed transfer containing the forged signature of the property’s rightful owner. The deed and title were transferred to Jean Swilling, LLC, a limited liability company owned and operated by the defendant.
In July 2016, once the title was transferred, the defendant negotiated and completed a deal to sell the home to an unsuspecting buyer for approximately $265,000. Neither the buyer nor his attorney was aware of the property’s fraudulent title.
The Acting District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, the fraudulent transfer was discovered by the property’s rightful owner,(1) who filed then a complaint with the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Action Center.
Hillary Kerman, a retired Board of Education administrator, was in Florida last spring around the time when Kenneth Pearson, 56, allegedly first set eyes on her house on East 85th Street. There was a fire at the two-family house in the early 2000s, and since then it has sat vacant, with Kerman waiting for the right time to sell, she told Gothamist. When she returned to New York—she winters in Florida and now lives elsewhere in Brooklyn—she noticed that she hadn't received the tax bill she usually gets mailed each May.
"I happened to be downtown for something else. so I went over to the Department of Finance to print [the bill]," she said. "I was even going to pay it online and it wasn't letting me go into my account. It was saying, 'Invalid.'"
A clerk told her to try looking up the tax bill in a public-facing database and just mail in a check. But when she went to a computer, the owner of the building was listed as Jean Swilling LLC. She pointed this out to another DOF worker, who in turn directed her to another floor in the agency's office building. From there, she was told to go to the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office. It was late afternoon on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, so she ran.
Soon it became clear that someone, whoever was behind this LLC, had stolen her house by filing fraudulent paperwork saying that she had sold it for $65,000 that May.
CBC News: Betrayal of Trust (A CBC investigation reveals how lawyers across Canada have misappropriated and mishandled clients money, to the tune of tens of millions of dollars, or sometimes even charging vulnerable people top dollar for shoddy services)
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