Thursday, July 06, 2017

Queens DA: Scam Artist Abused POA To Fleece Ailing. 83-Year Old Friend Out Of Over $100K In Real Estate Sale Proceeds

From the Office of the Queens County, New York District Attorney:
  • Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown today [May 24] announced that a 68-year-old Queens man has been charged with stealing more than $100,000 from an 83-year-old female friend who gave him power of attorney to act in her stead as her health was deteriorating and she was losing her eyesight.

    District Attorney Brown said, “This case is a clear example of why people have to be very careful as to whom they give power of attorney over their financial affairs. In this case, the defendant is accused of betraying the trust of a friend to unscrupulously steal more than $100,000 from her and with attempting to steal additional monies by liquidating an investment account she maintained to open a guaranteed lifetime annuity account, listing himself on the application as the sole beneficiary and the purported spouse of the victim.”

    The District Attorney identified the defendant as Herman Smith, 68, of Jamaica, Queens. Smith was arraigned [...] on a criminal complaint charging him with one count each of second-degree larceny, second-degree attempted larceny, first-degree scheme to defraud and endangering the welfare of an incompetent person.
    District Attorney Brown said that, according to the charges, the 83-year-old victim executed a Power of Attorney on September 17, 2014, authorizing Smith to act as her agent due to her failing health and eyesight. The Power of Attorney did not grant Smith permission or authority to transfer and/or withdraw monies for any purpose other than to assist her with her financial responsibilities.

    According to the charges, said District Attorney Brown, Smith paid bills on behalf of the victim and represented her at a real estate closing for a property she owned on North Columbus Avenue in Freeport, Long Island. In September 2015, the victim moved to North Carolina and, upon her leaving the state, she authorized Smith to represent her at the sale of a second property she owned on Parsons Avenue in Freeport, Long Island.

    A review of two Chase Bank accounts belonging to the victim allegedly revealed that, prior to July 10, 2015, the address of record on her Chase accounts was listed as the victim’s Parsons Avenue residence and that monthly statements were sent to that location. On August 31, 2015, it is alleged that a real estate closing check payable to the victim in the amount of $114,036 and endorsed by the victim and Smith was deposited into one of the victim’s accounts at a Chase Bank branch located near Smith’s Queens residence.

    It is alleged that between September 2, 2016, and September 10, 2016, Smith unlawfully transferred a total of $65,000 from the victim’s account to another Chase account belonging to him, and that he unlawfully made three separate cash withdrawals totaling $33,475.08 from the victim’s account. Further, it is alleged that two checks payable to the victim and totaling $3,343 were also unlawfully deposited into Smith’s Chase account. A further review of Chase records allegedly revealed that Smith’s account listed a second account holder – Yvette Kelly, a 64-year-old female individual who also had added Smith to her bank account via a Power of Attorney agreement. When Ms. Kelly died on June 10, 2014, it is alleged that Smith kept her account open.

    It is additionally alleged that a review of Smith’s account revealed that between February 18, 2014, and June 1, 2015, Smith transferred more than $80,000 from his Chase account to the Chase account belonging to Ms. Kellyand that $76,287 was removed from Ms. Kelly’s account between February 18, 2014, and March 25, 2015, by means of 92 ATM withdrawals done in Atlantic City via Smith’s Chase debit card.