DA VANCE: PHONY REAL ESTATE AGENT CHARGED WITH STEALING $250,000 IN DOWN PAYMENTS THROUGH HARLEM PROPERTY SCAM
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the indictment of DAN STERN, 51, for stealing approximately $250,000 from four potential real estate investors in Harlem. The defendant is charged in a New York State Supreme Court indictment with Grand Larceny in the Second and Third Degrees, and Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree.
“Dan Stern is accused of orchestrating an elaborate scheme to steal from would-be real estate investors in Harlem,” said District Attorney Vance. “This defendant allegedly went so far as to open a brick-and-mortar business to lure potential victims. In today’s real estate climate, property owners and potential investors need to be vigilant in protecting their assets. I urge anyone who believes that he or she may have been the victim of this type of fraud to call my Office’s Financial Frauds Hotline at 212-335-8900.”
According to court documents and statements made on the record in court, between October 1, 2014, and May 30, 2015, STERN opened Harlem Village Realty at 104-106 East 126th Street and advertised several properties for sale unbeknownst to the true owners and without their permission or authority to do so. 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, in some instances posed as a real estate agent or attorney to the investors and even 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.
Assistant District Attorney Nashonme Johnson is handling the prosecution of this case under the supervision of Assistant District Attorneys Gloria Garcia, Deputy Chief of the Financial Frauds Bureau; Archana Rao, Principal Deputy Chief of the Financial Frauds Bureau; Michael Sachs, Chief of the Financial Frauds Bureau; and Executive Assistant District Attorney David Szuchman, Chief of the Investigation Division. Financial Investigator Michael Vecchio of the Forensic Accounting and Financial Investigations Bureau, Investigative Analyst Anne McGrath, and former Financial Investigator Frank Nonenmacher also provided assistance with the case.
District Attorney Vance thanked Detective Peter Sganga of the NYPD’s Bronx Grand Larceny Squad, for his assistance with the investigation.