UPDATE 1/24/19 – The NYPD has arrested Mahabbat Abdualieva, 24. She faces petit larceny and criminal impersonation charges.

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Police are looking for a man in Queens and a woman in Brooklyn they say disappeared with thousands after taking deposits on apartments.

Investigators say it all started with an ad posted on a telephone, boasting of an apartment available in a soon-to-be renovated home in East Elmhurst.

It ended with a mom of three out $2,000.

“I don’t know why, so dumb of me,” Felicia Campos said. “I don’t know why I did that.”

Campos says with affordable housing in such short supply, she felt pressure to fork over a cash deposit or lose out on a great deal.

The NYPD says she isn’t alone. From mid-July to the end of December, they say a male suspect took deposits from at least 11 victims while using at least eight aliases.

Man police say is behind string of rental rip-offs in Queens. (credit: CBS2)

The suspect allegedly took deposits on a unit in the East Elmhurst building at least four times before cutting off contact with the would-be renters.

It wasn’t immediately clear how he managed to access the building.

“This neighborhood is really immigrant-populated, and so a lot of people don’t do background checks and stuff. They’re kinda just used to cash,” East Elmhurst resident Shaquana Blount said.

In Brooklyn, cops are looking for 24-year-old Mahabbat Abdualieva, who allegedly took deposits on an Ocean Parkway apartment and two others before vanishing with the cash.

Mahabbat Abdualieva, 24. (credit: CBS2)

Police say it’s always best to deal with licensed agencies, not give over cash, and not give in to pressure.

  1. Umberto Cellini says:

    Felicia Campos should fly to Mexico, then reenter the USA illegally under an assumed name. She’ll then have everything handed to her for free.

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