BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- Ingrid Menzies has the receipts for more than a year of rent payments, each of them stamped by what she now believes is a made up LLC created to steal her money.
"We paid faithfully. Every month we paid our rent," she said.
Now, the Brooklyn District Attorney is saying the man she thought was her landlord was actually a con man. For more than a year, Raymond Lewis, 54, allegedly collected rent from tenants at 791 Lexington Ave. in Brooklyn.
When Lewis refused to make repairs to the building, tenants finally caught on and refused to pay rent. The DA said the suspected con man allegedly doubled down on the scam by filing a lawsuit in housing court. Menzies said Lewis even convinced the cops to kick out two former tenants.
"They were already moving their things out little by little, but then when the police came, the police escorted them out," she said.
But the district attorney's office said Lewis forged the paperwork, using documents from a previous eviction that took place a couple blocks away. When police arrived, they thought they had no choice but to remove the tenants for trespassing.
“This defendant is an alleged con man who pretended to be a property owner with the right to collect rents and evict people at will. This is just one of many types of housing scams that I am warning property owners to beware of as Brooklyn continues to soar in popularity,” Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez said.
The DA's office said the actual landlord is out of state. The Department of Buildings shows the property registered to an LLC in Florida. But Menzies said now another person has come forward claiming to own the building, though she said she's not rushing to make rent.
"Who am I supposed to trust? Who am I supposed to believe?" she said.
She said she'll reach out to the district attorney's office to find out first.
Lewis has been charged with three counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, one count of third-degree falsely reporting an incident and two counts of unlawful eviction. He was ordered held on bail of $75,000 bond or $25,000 cash and to return to court on Oct. 24, 2018.