Brooklyn developer vanished with $4M in buyer deposits: lawsuit
Immigrant families at risk of eviction from Bay Ridge building
A Brooklyn developer is accused of disappearing with more than $4 million in his clients’ money, leaving about 20 immigrant families at risk of eviction.
Developer Xi Hui “Steven” Wu took tens or hundreds of thousands from each victim, claiming they were deposits to buy condos at 345 Ovington Avenue in Bay Ridge, according to the lawsuits reported by the New York Post. Wu was supposed to transfer ownership titles to the residents who put down deposits, but residents allege he vanished with the money.
Wu didn’t actually have permission to sell the units, according to the lawsuits, and charged condo fees for some.
Residents say the developer began collecting money from them in 2012, drawing up to $500,000 from some. Tenants proceeded to move into the building, unaware that he was not actually able to sell the condos.
An attorney representing the affected families described Wu’s actions as “a massive scam where he cheated over 20 immigrant families not only of their life savings but also of their hopes and dreams of owning a home.”
Plans were filed for a condo project with 25 units in 2013 and the units were approved to go to market two years later. TRData determined at least 80 percent of the sponsor units in the building had been sold; Wu allegedly didn’t have permission to sell those.
At some point, Wu stopped making payments on a $6 million loan he took out to build the property, an attorney representing the families alleged. The developer disappeared with the payments, leading to the residents filing a lawsuit and winning judgments against Wu in May.
The families are still in danger of eviction. Because of the outstanding loan, Maxim Credit Group foreclosed on the building, which is set to go to auction next week. A new owner could start eviction proceedings against the families living on the property, though the residents hope to work with politicians to prevent any eviction effort.
Meanwhile, emotions towards the disappearing developer are still raw as residents are left to deal with the consequences.
“We feel he actually betrayed us,” Ka Cheng “Kris” Chan told the Post, adding that his mother gave her life savings, $200,000, to Wu.
— Holden Walter-Warner
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