The alleged scam started in January and stretched over the next month. Police said the man posed as a real estate agent at half a dozen Brooklyn apartments.
Most of the homes involved in the fraud that Ganias visited appeared to be vacant, with one having a padlock on the door.
“They would just take the money and run. That’s pretty bad. Not good,” one resident said.
“That tells me we’re living in a time where people just don’t have no concern for other folks. I mean, it’s terrible,” said Dennis Reading of Bed-Stuy.
Police said the suspect would find listings online, re-post them as the realtor, and set up appointments to show them. After meeting with prospective renters, police said he would have them sign contracts and ask for the first month’s rent as a security deposit in cash.
It’s not just a mention on Craigslist that tells people the apartment is vacant. A Century 21 sign makes it obvious even to strangers that the apartment is empty. And neighbors here say one month’s security deposit is a lot of money to lose.
“You got to also do a background check. You you can’t just give anybody the money, you know?” said Damian Richards of Bed-Stuy.
“That’s a whole lot of money. In these days and times, yes it is,” said Dennis Reading.
Police described the suspect as a black male in his mid 30′s, standing 5’6″ tall, and weighing around 150 pounds with a grey oversized Yankee cap.
Police were urging renters to check out a prospective landlord before signing any lease or handing over money.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1 800 577 TIPS (8477). Tips can also be submitted to the Crime Stoppers website or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.