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