Attorney General Cuomo Announces Indictment Of Wny House-flipper For Stealing $39k From Unsuspecting Investor

BUFFALO, N.Y. (September 11, 2008) – Attorney General Andrew Cuomo today announced the indictment of a Niagara Falls man who allegedly sold properties to a buyer from England and never provided the titles to the properties.

Joseph Furan, 39, of Lockport Road in Niagara Falls, was indicted by a Niagara County Grand Jury on the charge of grand larceny in the third degree (class D felony). The charge carries a maximum penalty of 7 years in prison. He was arraigned on the indictment before Niagara County Court Judge Matthew Murphy and released on his own recognizance, pending his next court appearance on October 23.

“At times when all New Yorkers are feeling the financial pinch due to a housing market slowdown, we must be ever-vigilant to make sure unsuspecting consumers aren’t preyed upon by unscrupulous individuals,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “My office is committed to taking action against those who try to take advantage of hard economic times as a means to fleece hard-working families and individuals.”

According to the felony complaint, between January and March of 2007, Furan allegedly sold two Niagara Falls properties over the Internet to a buyer from England. Furan then allegedly failed to provide the titles to the properties and used the money from the sales to pay off various debts. Furan allegedly sold a Linwood Avenue property – which he didn’t own – for $19,000 to the unsuspecting investor from England. Furan’s wife, a former owner of the property, had already lost title to it through foreclosure proceedings. Furan also allegedly sold a property on 18th Street to the same investor for $32,000 without ever transferring the title.

Last year, Attorney General Cuomo’s Office discovered that Furan placed multiple ads on the Internet site eBay in an attempt to lure investors to buy properties he did not own, among other schemes. The Attorney General’s Office secured a court order against Furan, requiring him to file a $100,000 performance bond before he attempted to sell properties online. Details of Furan’s original scheme can be found here .

Earlier this year, it was discovered that Furan – in direct violation of the previous court order – had again placed ads on the Internet site Craigslist and faked his credentials in an attempt to flip properties he didn’t own to unsuspecting investors. It was during this time that the alleged grand larceny took place. Because of these violations, the Attorney General’s Office sought and obtained criminal contempt of court charges on August 15.

The original matter was referred to the Attorney General’s Office by Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown’s Anti-Flipping Task Force (AFTF), which monitors the Internet for individuals seeking to flip properties in the region. The grand larceny case is being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Michael McCabe and Paul McCarthy of the Buffalo Regional Office under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief of the Criminal Prosecution Bureau Richard Ernst. The preceding civil matters were handled by Assistant Attorney General James Morrissey.

The grand larceny charge is merely an accusation and Furan is presumed innocent until and unless he is proven guilty.

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