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Last week’s headline−grabbing story of a Park Slope man who masqueraded as his dead mother in a failed bid to keep his home was one of over a half−dozen real estate scams uncovered by the Kings County District Attorney’s new Mortgage Fraud and Real Estate Crimes Unit.
Criminal misdeeds and shenanigans over mortgages and deeds in homes in Williamsburg, East Flatbush and Canarsie have also been targeted by the new unit, Kings County District Attorney Hynes said as he hailed their successes during a recent press conference with Brooklyn U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, who had secured the $875,000 in funding to create the new unit.
“This Mortgage Fraud and Real Estate Crimes Unit at the Brooklyn DA’s Office has proved to be the perfect tool to prevent scam artists from preying on Brooklyn residents during the ongoing economic and housing crises,” Schumer said. “For years, these criminals have taken advantage of New Yorkers and escaped undetected and unscathed.”
Hynes said that since the opening of the unit in March, Assistant District Attorneys have indicted eight people on a slew of charges ranging from grand larceny to filing a false instrument. An additional 80 investigations have been opened, Hynes said.
The unit was also instrumental in the arrest of Thomas Prusik−Parkin, who was accused of impersonating his deceased mother in a hare−brained scam to pull his Sixth Avenue home out of foreclosure. Prusik−Parkin was also charged with collecting Social Security benefits and rent subsidies in his dead mother’s name.
According to published reports, Prusik−Parkin’s mother deeded the home near 12th Street to him before she died. He got a mortgage, but was unable to make the payments.
The home went into foreclosure in 2003, right around the time that his mother died of natural causes.
When someone else bought the house from the bank he decided to masquerade as his mother and claim that she was the real owner of the home and that the deed in Prusik−Parkin’s name was a forgery.
The Mortgage Fraud and Real Estate Crimes Unit caught wind of the case when, after six years of legal wrangling, the new owner of the property came to the unit for help, believing that Prusik−Parkin and his mother −− who he thought was still alive −− were lying under oath.
Detectives looked into the case and discovered the fraud, as well as Prusik−Parkin in drag.
“Factors have created a perfect storm for mortgage fraud and real estate crime,” Hynes explained. “The pool of potential victims is huge in this densely populated borough, and the desperation of homeowners facing default and foreclosure has made them easy targets for real estate scammers.”
“The new Mortgage Fraud and Real Estate Crimes Unit in my office has made a full−time job of fighting this crime,” he said.
Also indicted by the new unit was Fernando Maldonado, a Williamsburg resident who allegedly turned a building on South 2nd Street between Roebling and Havemeyer streets into his own personal ATM.
Prosecutors charge that Maldonado pretended to be president of the building’s Housing Development Fund Corporation and applied for a $7 million mortgage from Metro Funding when he had no authority to do so.
Maldonado was also convinced a man by the name of James Bond (yes, that’s his real name) to pay $20,000 worth of mortgage payments to Metro Funding after agreeing to pay him back twice his investment, officials said.
Prosecutors said that he managed to provide Bond with a forged deed that said he and the Housing Development Fund Corporation co−owned the property.
While Maldonado was not the current president of the corporation, he was president in the past, according to officials.
After uncovering the scam, investigators charged him with attempted grand larceny, grand larceny and criminal possession of a forged instrument.
Other mortgage fraud cases were found in Sunset Park and Bushwick officials said.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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