A Bronx woman was charged Monday with running a rent scam in Manhattan, offering fake leases and keys in exchange for more than $20,000 in deposits, police said.
Jennifer Ricardo, 33, was released without bail Monday after returning from the Dominican Republic, where she had fled to, and turning herself in to investigators. Ricardo, who also lives in the Bronx, was charged in a 13-count indictment, including grand larceny and scheme to defraud.
Ricardo allegedly pretended to be a real estate agent and collected more than $24,000 from prospective clients by promising them spots in a building under renovation in Inwood, police said. She is accused of handing out fake leases and inoperable keys in exchange for the security deposit from Nov. 22 to Nov. 25, according to police and court records.
"Instead of providing Inwood and Washington Heights residents with affordable housing, this defendant fled the country, allegedly with her victims' hard-earned cash deposits in hand," Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance said in a statement. "Every day, New Yorkers face challenges of affordability and displacement in the City's surging housing market. My Office will continue to root out and prosecute crooked individuals that would take advantage of those who strive to provide better housing for their families."
When renters then tried to make arrangements to move in, the building's management told them there were no apartments available, police said.
Ricardo scammed 10 different victims, according to court records.
Ricardo's attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Her next court appearance is scheduled for March 11.