Dressed in sleek designer clothes, a luxury watch on his wrist, a model on his arm and an unflappable, laid back demeanor, Ian Matalon seemed more super spy than regular homebuyer when he crossed paths with Terrence Harding.
Matalon wined and dined the Compass broker and his associates, taking them from the The Peninsula rooftop, to Tao, to Il Mulino, all while brushing elbows with the rich and famous, according to Harding. And Matalon always picked up the tab.
“He moved like James Bond,” said Harding. “He was just so smooth.”
Matalon did have one trait in common with most spies: His identity was a sham. But that’s where the similarities ended. Matalon’s real name is Ian Mitchell, a scam artist who the New York Post reports had been arrested for grand larceny and released on $100,000 bond a few months before meeting Harding in late 2017.
That detail didn’t stop Mitchell — posing as Matalon — from submitting offers on multiple luxury apartments, going to great lengths to convince brokers and attorneys that he was a millionaire relative of the owners of Sandals Resorts, according to interviews and emails reviewed by The Real Deal.
“You couldn’t tell anybody this guy wasn’t who he said he was,” Harding said. “He was that good. He wasn’t asking for anything, he was just asking to see places. … I want to put in an offer, what do I need to put in an offer?”
Mitchell, who pleaded guilty to the grand larceny charges and eventually served a year in jail for continuing his scams, was back in the news last week when allegedly he broke a window and threatened to jump from the 20th story of the CitySpire building in Midtown Manhattan when the FBI tried to serve him with a search warrant, according to the Post, citing unnamed sources. The standoff lasted hours, until an officer crawled down a rope from the apartment above and climbed through the shattered window.
Attempts to obtain contact information for Mitchell for comment were unsuccessful. The Post reports he was taken into custody Wednesday and brought to a psychiatric unit.
Last week’s event brought Harding back to his encounters with Mitchell and re-awakened his amazement at the lengths the con man went to in order to perpetuate his false identity. Harding, who once upon a time went by MC Klepto and performed in the Notorious B.I.G’s rap group, is no stranger to the rich and famous, or to selling them real estate. He wasn’t an easy mark — but testimony from attorneys, other well-established brokers, Mitchell’s lavish lifestyle and Mitchell going so far as to submit offers on properties gave Harding no reason to doubt his story.
“Every time we asked for something, he provided it, paperwork-wise,” said Harding, adding Mitchell had proof-of-fund statements at the ready. “He did everything a purchaser would have to do in order to purchase it. … Everything just checked out.”
Dayanne Costa, another Compass broker who interacted with Mitchell, said “he tricked everyone into thinking he had money, even attorneys.”
Harding showed Mitchell three downtown properties in the $20 million range — there weren’t many units that fit his criteria: He wanted a penthouse with outdoor space. Mitchell at one point went as far as meeting with an attorney and going through the due diligence process.
Eventually, a check Mitchell cut to a real estate attorney bounced, around the time Mitchell dropped from Harding’s radar.
“He kind of disappeared, and then the next thing somebody showed me he was on the news,” Harding said.
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