Bronx woman indicted in rent scam that netted nearly $100K

A Bronx woman was indicted for stealing approximately $99,000 from 16 people in a scheme promising rent-stabilized apartments to low-income individuals.
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A Bronx woman was indicted this week for stealing approximately $99,000 from 16 people in a scheme promising rent-stabilized apartments to low-income individuals.

“For months, in the middle of the pandemic, the defendant, Eligia Estrella, allegedly stole thousands of dollars from hard-working people who entrusted her with their savings to attain rent-stabilized apartments,” said Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark. “She has been indicted for defrauding 16 people of about $99,000, but it is believed she victimized as many as 63 people, stealing a total of approximately $300,000.

“The victims, who include a grandmother and granddaughter, paid hefty deposits believing they would soon live in better conditions. To further gain the victims’ trust, the defendant allegedly told them she had connections with the city’s Housing Preservation and Development, the Housing Development Corporation, NYC Housing Authority and City Councilman Ruben Diaz Sr. I thank DOI for assistance in this case. I would also like to thank Telemundo Channel 47 for directing victims to our Investigations Division.”

According to the investigation, between March 2020 and November 2020, Eligia Estrella, 59, of East 172nd Street, told a friend that she could get her a rent-stabilized apartment, and allegedly said she had connections with organizations and city agencies, as well as Councilman Ruben Diaz Sr.’s office. The defendant said the cost to obtain the apartment was $8,000 and that the victim had to pay $4,000 up front and the remainder when the keys and lease were turned over.

Believing the defendant was helping her, the victim — who, like Estrella, is of Dominican heritage — told her friends and family members that Estrella was getting her a rent-stabilized apartment. They reached out to Estrella, trusted her, and told others about her as well. As charged in the indictment, 16 people had given Estrella deposits ranging from $3,000-$16,000 for the apartments. After the victims paid the deposit, the defendant allegedly kept the money and the victims were never given the apartments.

Estrella was charged with third-degree grand larceny, third-degree criminal possession of stolen property, petit larceny, fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, first-degree scheme to defraud and second-degree scheme to defraud. She is due back in court Dec. 14.

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