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Scammed!?

File under: Don’t let it happen to you – the classic scam for these times or is it?  After a Bronx condo owner fell into financial distress, a financial investor swooped in offering to help the owner refinance his mortgage and stave off foreclosure. The vulture put him in touch with a lawyer (no snide remarks please) who got the victim to sign what he thought was a refinancing agreement, but really was a deed purportedly conveying ownership of his condo to a dummy corporation owned by the vulture. 

The vulture paid off the $20,000 mortgage, and the owner paid $7,000 in outstanding maintenance arrears, plus charges of $700 a month, half of which were to go towards maintenance.  Even though the promised refinancing never came through, the victim continued to make monthly payments – till his condo brought a foreclosure action  for failing to pay maintenance charges.

But I’ve been paying like clockwork, the victim finally realized he’d been duped, or so he claimed.  The vulture said, what are you talking about? I bought the apartment from you, and you haven’t paid rent for two years so I’m evicting you.

 Saint or sinner:– that’s the real life question those judges were faced with: Did the vulture conspire with the lawyer to fraudulently induce the victim to deed over his unit?  Or did the victim willingly sell his apartment to the vulture to avoid foreclosure and save himself?  It’s a scenario that’s been replayed too many times in this environment, but it makes you stand up and take notice when it happens here in our own backyard.

 Only just this week the court said it couldn’t decide – at least not without a trial, which means the whole mess could drag on till the mortgage crisis eases and apartment prices rise, an eventuality that will likely raise the stakes and harden the battle lines.

So who do you think is telling the truth: Diallo v. Grand Bay Assoc. Enters., Inc., 2010 NY Slip. Op. 50214(U), Feb. 16, 2010, Sup. Ct. Bronx Co. (Go to Search NY Slip Decisions, and under Search By Citation, enter the date and case number.)

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