New York City’s low vacancy rates and high demand for rental properties are creating opportunities for some enterprising con men. Prospective tenants need to be sure they’re dealing with a reputable, licensed broker, not a scam artist.
Ronald Johnson of Brooklyn has been convicted of felony larceny charges and could face up to 15 years in jail for having falsely posed as a real estate broker working for a sham agency he created called “Max Realty”.
It’s believed that Johnson broke into vacant units and left the door ajar for interested prospects to view the apartments. He then asked for $100, ostensibly to cover the cost of running a credit check. In some cases, he ripped off people’s security deposits.
In at least one instance, he showed a prospect an apartment renting for $1100 a month. She and two other apartment-seekers all received keys to the same unit.
The District Attorney who prosecuted the case was satisfied with the verdict, stating that it holds Johnson and other potential con artists accountable for “ripping off hardworking people who were simply trying to rent an apartment.”