Paul Fishbein brings new meaning to the term slum lord. From about 2013 through May 4, 2021, Fishbein allegedly rented out properties in New York City to low-income New Yorkers through the city’s rental assistance programs, collecting rent payments from the state and federal programs. But Fishbein was never a property owner. According to authorities, he was just a liar. Fishbein found buildings in the Bronx and elsewhere that were recently sold, then forged deeds to show the building were turned over from the buyers to an LLC he controlled. Fishbein then presented himself as the owner of the buildings and collected rent money. It was like a government funded Airbnb, using someone else’s property. Air-fraud. His tenants included homeless and poor families who needed government assistance to pay rent. Fishbein often evicted them shortly after they were placed in the buildings, which were dilapidated and, in some cases, in foreclosure. Got to keep these tenants moving before they figure out something isn’t right!
In addition, Fishbein allegedly collected fees paid for by the New York Human Resources Agencies that he claimed would be paid to brokers who rented the apartments for him. Authorities state Fishbein used an actual real estate broker’s license and name without her authority to collect these made-up broker fees from the City. He ultimately bilked some $1.5 million in funds in the years-long scheme, including $270,000 in federal funds.
Fishbein was also convicted of healthcare fraud because, from 2014 through May 4, 2021, he lied to New York City’s Medicaid program about how much money he made to collect Medicaid benefits. Fishbein reported to the city he made only $150 a week, or $7,200 a year. By lying about his income, fraudulent or not, Fishbein qualified for low-income insurance aid and received almost $50,000 in Medicaid benefits to which he was not entitled.
Great job by the New York City Department of Investigation.
Today’s Fraud Of The Day is based on article “Fishbein Trial For Real Estate Fraud Also Charges Lying to HRA Now Broker Backtracks” published by Inner City Press on April 19, 2023
A trial began on April 18, 2023 in US v. Paul Fishbein, before U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Paul A. Crotty. Inner City Press was there.
The prosecutors say Fishbein “is charged with theft of government funds, wire fraud, and mail fraud for defrauding rental assistance programs by falsely claiming to be the owner and landlord of 20 properties in New York City, renting out the properties to families in need through the rental assistance programs, and collecting money as the purported owner and landlord of the properties.”