Deed fraud is an ongoing and serious problem in Bed Stuy — so common, in fact, that even realtor and chairman of Community Board 3 Richard Flateau has been a victim.
To educate locals on how to fight it, City Council Member Robert Cornegy, Community Board 3, Commissioner Jacques Jiha, New York City Sheriff Joseph Fucito, and the Bed Stuy Restoration Corporation are holding a town hall on the topic tonight, Wednesday, April 5.
Reps from the mayor’s office and other city agencies will talk about deed fraud, a scam in which con artists steal a house. Seniors and financially insecure homeowners are often targets. Thieves comb through public records to find homeowners who are behind on their mortgage payments and headed into foreclosure.
Methods include conning homeowners into signing over the deed to their home under the pretense of paying off or refinancing the property, or simply forging the homeowner’s signature to transfer ownership of title. Con artists often hide behind untraceable LLCs.
In Flateau’s case, strangers filed fraudulent documents giving them legal authority over one of his properties — if he hadn’t discovered the crime in time, they could have sold his house and pocketed the money.
“Late last year someone filed a fraudulent Power of Attorney indicating that I had given them authority to conduct real estate transactions and other business matters regarding a property that I own with a partner under an entity named Elganto LLC,” he told Brownstoner. “The fraudsters also formed a bogus company with the similar name of Elganto Management Inc.”
This is not the first seminar about deed theft in Brooklyn. Borough President Adams and Attorney General Schneiderman held an educational forum at Brooklyn Borough Hall in 2015, and local civic group Brownstoners of Bedford-Stuyvesant held a panel about it in Bed Stuy in 2016.
The town hall will take place at 6 p.m. tonight, Wednesday, April 5, on the first floor of the Bed Stuy Restoration Corporation building at 1368 Fulton Street in Bed Stuy. The event is free of charge and you can read more about it here.
Co-sponsors of tonight’s event include the Brooklyn Bar Association, Center for NYC Neighborhoods and Brooklyn Neighborhood Services.
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