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Thief poses as fire chief and sells discounted cars that he doesn’t own to unsuspecting women

By Mason White 12:53 PM November 10, 2014
Firefighters illustration 

By: Wayne Morin
A man was arrested on charges of impersonation after allegedly posing as a fire chief to defraud unsuspecting women, prosecutors in New York said.

Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said that the Long Island man was charged with posing as a New York City Fire Department captain and allegedly scamming unsuspecting victims out of approximately $17,000 by promising them government-seized vehicles at greatly-reduced prices.

The suspect was identified as 36-year-old Maurice R. Knight of Bayview Avenue in Amityville.

Knight was charged with third-degree grand larceny, second- degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, first-degree scheme to defraud and second-degree criminal impersonation.

Knight is being held in jail after failing to post bail. As a persistent felon, Knight faces up to life in prison if convicted.

According to the police investigation, Knight met a 29-year-old woman of Brooklyn, at the Thrifty Rent-A-Car outlet located at 122-02 South Conduit Avenue in Queens, and introduced himself as a New York City Fire Department Captain.

Eight days later, Knight allegedly met the woman again, and told her that he had relatives in the New York City Police Department and that he could obtain seized and auctioned vehicles at reduced prices, generally between $2,000 and $3,000.

Knight provided her with a list of vehicles to choose from and instructed her to pay him $1,000 upfront via a postal money order, wait thirty days for delivery of the vehicle and then pay him the remainder of the vehicle’s cost on delivery.

Knight told the woman that she could have the vehicle of her choice for free if she could sell the rest of the vehicles on the list he had provided.

The woman collected approximately $17,000 in cash from acquaintances, co-workers and family members, and gave the cash to Knight.

The man’s scheme fell apart after the woman introduced her older sister to Knight.

The sister conducted a computer search on Knight and discovered that he had been previously implicated in a similar auto scam, in which he posed as an FDNY lieutenant and promised to sell impounded vehicles to people.

The younger sister called police. Knight was arrested as he was entering his vehicle, a red 2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo.

The vehicle had three stickers affixed to its front windshield – including a New York City Fire Department emblem, a New York City Police Department Detective shield and one reading, “Firefighter” – and two stickers affixed to its rear windshield – including one reading, “Captain, Fire Department,” and the other reading, “Hazardous Materials Team.”

Among the items allegedly recovered from the vehicle at the time was an emergency services flashing light from the inside of the front windshield where it was affixed, assorted firefighter’s gear and an FDNY shirt embossed with the words, “Captain Knight.”

It is additionally alleged that a forged Roosevelt Fire Department identification card with Knight’s picture affixed to the ID card as a sticker was recovered from the defendant’s wallet.

A check of the Roosevelt Fire Departments in Suffolk and Dutchess counties, as well as the New York City Fire Department, determined that Knight was never employed by any of the departments.