The Real Deal New York

11 real estate players charged in deed fraud scheme in Queens

Four attorneys are among those facing prison sentences
March 02, 2017 06:09PM

Queens DA Richard Brown and Kings Development Group at 24615 Jericho Turnpike (Credit: Getty Images and Google Maps)

A grand jury indicted 11 people and two Queens-based companies on Wednesday on allegations they tricked homeowners into signing away their properties.

Police arrested nine people and are looking to bring two others into custody, Gothamist reported. Authorities said the accused stole houses from at least 10 people in a series of deed thefts, according to the website. Yisroel Services Corp., along with Kings Development Group were charged. Michael Herskowitz, Yariv Katz, Yisroel Steinberg and Sandford Solny — all attorneys, according to the New York Post — are among the 11 people facing sentences of up to 25 years.

The fraudulent operation allegedly began 2012. Prosecutors charge the suspects targeted homeowners who were deeply in debt. They convinced their victims to sign documents, claiming they would help with their financial situation, according to authorities. However, those documents allegedly transferred the deeds over to the fraud ring, and left the homeowners to pay the mortgages.

An investigation began in 2014, when the Queens district attorney received complaints about cold calls from Kings Development Group, offering financial assistance.

One of Kings Development Group’s victims was a military veteran in hospital. Another was a single mother of five, according to the Queens DA Richard Brown.

“Instead of tossing the victims a lifeline, half of whom were elderly individuals, the defendants are accused of creating a financial nightmare for the homeowners and placing them in worse financial situations than when first contacted by the defendants,” Brown told the New York Daily News.

In 2015, landlord John Kojo Zi was indicted for allegedly stealing the titles of five Manhattan rental buildings through fraudulent deed transfers. [Gothamist]Miriam Hall