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Phony real estate agent steals down payments from buyers after selling homes without permission of owners

By Mason White 1:52 PM March 18, 2016
Real estate agent (illustration)  

By: Chan Yuan
A phony real estate agent was arrested on a charge of larceny after allegedly selling homes without the permission of the owners, police in New York said.

The New York Police Department said that they have arrested 51-year-old Dan Stern the Bronx, after being accused of stealing the down payments given to him by customers who were interested to purchase properties.

Stern was charged with second-degree grand larceny, third-degree grand larceny and first-degree scheme to defraud.

He was booked into jail, and his bail was set at $500,000 cash.

According to the police investigation, Stern opened Harlem Village Realty at 104-106 East 126th Street, and advertised several properties for sale without the permission of the true owners.

The properties advertised included, 41 West 124th Street, 36 West 128th Street, 52-54 East 126th Street, 342 West 123rd Street, and 175 West 126th Street.

The properties Stern targeted included two churches and several buildings that were facing foreclosure or in need of major repairs.

Once a prospective buyer expressed interest in a property, Stern would have contracts prepared for the fraudulent sale and accept checks for the down payment.

To further the scam, Stern opened a business bank account in another person’s name, listing himself as the signatory. He deposited and cashed the down payment checks he received from the scam into this account.

When the victims contacted Stern, requesting the return of their money, the defendant did not return their phone calls.

To date, Stern has not returned any of the stolen funds, which he used to pay for personal expenses, including credit card payments, membership to a country club, maintenance for luxury cars and cash withdrawals.