Real Estate Scams Flourish in Brooklyn

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Despite a depressed real estate market, mortgage fraud and other related crimes continue to be a major problem, according to Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes. Today he announced charges against 12 people for a variety of unrelated housing schemes, including mortgage fraud.

Three out of the 12 scams involved people posing as landlords and collecting rent and security deposits on apartments they didn't own.

Those charged come from a variety of backgrounds. "Included among the 12 filings today is an attorney, a resigned attorney, and a suspended attorney. In addition there's a New York City corrections officer and also, there are incredible to me, repeat offenders," Hynes says.

Prosecutors say two of the alleged repeat offenders, Russell Pitt and Nathan Farkas, convinced an unemployed Brooklyn woman to grant them power of attorney so they could refinance her home. Instead, prosecutors say they sold her home and kept the proceeds. Attorneys for both men could not be reached.

One victim, Jean Kemp, says she was shocked to learn a $225,000 dollar mortgage had been taken out on her home in Marine Park. "When the guy told me that I said, 'you're out of your mind, I never took a mortgage, our house has been paid since 1987," Kemp says.

The Brooklyn DA's office says it's special real estate crimes unit continues to receive hundreds of complaints.