Phony Landlord Scammed Harlem Renters

apartments homeA woman is facing charges for posing as a property manager and collecting rents on a Harlem brownstone years after selling the property.

Cheryl Keeling, 65, collected rents totaling $194,000 in a scheme that lasted a little more than three years, according to an eight-count indictment from the New York District Attorney’s office. Keeling has been charged with second-degree grand larceny, fourth-degree criminal tax fraud, fifth-degree criminal tax fraud and repeated failure to file personal income and earnings taxes, according to the indictment.

Keeling’s scam started in August 2011 and lasted until December 2014, according to the indictment. In 2007 she sold a Harlem brownstone to another individual who eventually defaulted on mortgages and died suddenly in 2011, officials said. Keeling then began posing as the building’s property manager and renting it out for $5,000 a month, according to the indictment.

“New York apartments command high rent, and with it, opportunities for scammers to defraud owners and renters alike,” said District Attorney Cyrus Vance in a statement. “As alleged in the indictment, the defendant rented out apartments when she had no authority to do so, used the proceeds to pay for a variety of personal expenses, and avoided the tax obligations borne by all New Yorkers. Tax fraud and theft of this kind are criminal offenses, and I thank our partners at the New York City Department of Finance for their assistance with this investigation.”

The illegally collected rent money was used to purchase luxury goods at Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s, pay for restaurant tabs and pay off credit card debt, officials said in the indictment.

In addition to the renting scheme, Keeling was not too fond of paying taxes, officials said. Keeling did not file taxes on income earned as a public school track coach from 2012 to 2014 or from her job at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School from 2011 to 2014, according to the indictment.

Looks like Keeling couldn’t outrun the taxman.

“Housing fraud is a serious and escalating crime in New York City, for which we have no tolerance,” said Jacques Jiha, commissioner of the city finance department, in a statement. “The Department of Finance has put a number of administrative and investigative processes in place to curtail illegal activities like these. We hope that this arrest will signal to others how seriously we take this matter.”

Photo: Shutterstock. Source

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