NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Police have made a breakthrough in the case of a man and a woman suspected of bilking thousands of dollars after taking deposits on apartments.
The NYPD announced Thursday the arrest Mahabbat Abdualieva, 24, of Brooklyn. She faces multiple charges of petit larceny and criminal impersonation after she allegedly took deposits on an Ocean Parkway apartment and two others before vanishing with the cash.
The male suspect, who is believed to be operating in Queens, is still at large.
Police said the scams started with an ad posted on a telephone poll, 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 said with affordable housing in such short supply, she felt pressure to fork over a cash deposit or lose out on a great deal.
Police said she isn’t alone. From mid-July until the end of December, they said a male suspect took deposits from at least 11 victims while using at least eight aliases.
The male 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.
Police said it’s always best to deal with licensed agencies, not give over cash, and not give in to pressure.