Of the crimes one can commit in New York City that don't involve bodily harm done to others, one that will get you the least amount of sympathy from a jury of your peers is perpetrating a real estate scam. This lesson will soon be learned by one Bronx man who's been charged with operating a scam website that allegedly ripped off more than 2,000 New Yorkers looking for apartments over a series of three years.
According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's office, Robert Guzman has been charged with mail fraud for running a pair of websites that required apartment seekers to send an application fee to see apartments, which he never showed them. Some of the listed apartments weren't even in New York City, according to the complaint, while others were apartments for sale through actual existing real estate companies.
Victims of the scam were allegedly told to send $50 to a P.O. Box that Guzman had set up, along with what he claimed was a rental application form to get apartments that were advertised on the website as "special offers directly from the landlord" according to the criminal complaint. According to the U.S. Attorney, Guzman made $100,000 by running the scam through the websites amazingapartmentrentals.com and www.equityproject.net between 2013 and 2016.
"Mr. Guzman took advantage of the need for affordable housing by allegedly devising a scheme to defraud those who could least afford to lose their hard-earned funds to a scam," USPIS Inspector-in-Charge Philip R. Bartlett said. If convicted, Guzman faces up to 20 years in prison.