As the New York City real estate market heats up, suspected cases of deed theft have been on the rise for several years. Authorities claim that the unlawful practice has reached crisis levels in Brooklyn, where a caretaker allegedly forced an 85-year-old diabetic homeowner to sign the deed to the home over to him in an attempt to sell at a profit. The former caretaker is now under indictment on counts of identity theft, grand larceny and ten others.

The elderly homeowner’s family discovered the alleged crime when a buyer interested in purchasing the home contacted them. The victim’s daughter reportedly found a letter from the Department of Finance regarding recent filings related to the property. An investigation revealed that the caretaker allegedly convinced the homeowner in 2017 that he had to sign a document or risk losing his home. The homeowner complied, unwittingly signing over his property to the caretaker, according to reports. Authorities claim that the caretaker then had the document notarized and forged a signature on another document when the notary public refused a second notarization. A sale attempt shortly after the caretaker allegedly acquired the deed reportedly fell through due to the refusal of a suspicious title company to insure the home.

The caretaker was a neighbor of the elderly homeowner, and the family initially hired him to check on their family member regularly, ensure he took his medicine and perform other tasks. The caretaker reportedly received $400 a week from the family for performing these services. 

A jury may not show leniency to an individual accused of taking advantage of someone vulnerable and infirm. For this reason, it may be a good idea for those accused of deed theft or fraud to contact an attorney.