Brooklyn Developer Accused Of Disappearing With $4M From Immigrant Clients
A Brooklyn developer has allegedly vanished with more than $4M from clients, leaving 20 immigrant Asian families at risk of eviction.
The Bay Ridge families gave developer Xi Hui Wu between tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars each to purchase condos in their residential building at 345 Ovington Ave. But Wu, who reportedly never had the right to sell the condos, instead pocketed the cash and absconded, The New York Post reported.
Wu began soliciting buyers in 2012, according to a lawsuit filed by the families against the developer. He allegedly began collecting sums ranging between tens of thousands of dollars and $500K as deposits for the condos in exchange for titles to the units.
Over the years, Wu held onto a percentage of the deposits he collected, residents allege in the lawsuit. In some cases, he kept the entire cost of the home, the alleged victims claim.
The families moved into the building but were never given the unit titles. Edward Cuccia, an attorney representing the families in the case, said Wu never had permission from New York state to sell the condos in the building.
“These families are facing eviction and total loss,” Cuccia told The Post. “This is the most egregious case of real estate fraud I have ever seen in my over 30 years of practicing law.”
Residents won judgments against Wu in May for the money they paid him, but their futures remain uncertain: The building was foreclosed on by the lender, Maxim Credit Group LLC, after Wu stopped payments on the $6M loan he took out to build the property.
As a result, 345 Ovington Ave. will go up for auction July 28. After that, the new owner could evict some of the families.
One resident, 60-year-old Cheng Peng Chu, who works as a server at a nearby restaurant, reportedly paid Wu her life savings of $200K in 2014 after moving in. In another case, Chin How Tan paid $187K to Wu for the condo where his parents have resided since 2015, in addition to $7K in what Wu allegedly claimed were condo fees.
“Where are they going to be staying?” Tan said to The Post. “It was supposed to be the apartment they retired in.”
Residents are due to meet with local politicians Wednesday to bring attention to their plight. Neither Wu, Wu’s lawyers nor Maxim Credit returned The Post’s requests for comment.