For many people, real estate agents are trusted friends and colleagues. We rely on them to sell and rent houses and apartments. A woman from Brooklyn recently broke that notion of trust when she pleaded guilty to larceny. She faces six years in prison.
Real Estate Agents
Real estate agents have three jobs. First, they have to work with sellers who are trying to sell a property. They must be able to understand what sellers need. They have to have knowledge of local markets in the area. They list the property with listing services with appropriate content and pictures. They also have to make sure the home is staged for open houses. They work with the seller of a house to get the best price for their homes or other property.
In addition, real estate agents work with buyers to find properties that will fit their requirements and budgets. They must work with other real estate agents to find properties for their clients. They must have good negotiation skills in order to get the best price for their clients.
Real estate agents also must have excellent networking skills with other brokers. They need other people to help them buy and sell homes. Real estate agents work with each other to solve problems and move properties. Because of the nature of the business, real estate agents handle a lot of money as well. Large amounts of cash create a temptation for some real estate agents to take more money than they are entitled to.
Gambling in New York and New Jersey
Both New York and New Jersey have legalized gambling in their states. Both states have casino gaming. New York has casinos spread out all over the state. New Jersey’s casinos are in Atlantic City. Both states have lotteries, and both states allow horseracing with pari-mutuel betting. While New York has yet to approve sportsbooks or online gambling, New Jersey has both. These differences may be why Yelena Litvak chose to spread her ill-gotten money across casinos in both states.
Yelena Litvak from Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn posed as a real estate agent and property manager from January 2017 through March 2018. She committed two kinds of crimes. First, she posed as a property manager for rentals of apartments in the Kings Bay Housing Company in Brooklyn. Litvak, who speaks fluent Russian, convinced Russian families that she would fast-track their applications for cash. Litvak pocketed the cash and shredded their applications, later claiming never to have heard from the families. Sometimes she would say that she tried and failed to fast-track their applications.
Litvak also tried to sell properties in Sheepshead Bay and Brighton Beach, which has large Russian immigrant populations. In some cases, she created false advertisements and took down payments for houses she never intended to sell. Many of the homes weren’t even available for sale.
Throughout a year and two months, Litvak, who had no real estate license, stole approximately $613,000 from 20 different families. Police stated that while she didn’t have a license, she had enough knowledge to fool recently immigrated Russian families. She spent all of the money at casinos in New York and New Jersey. The amounts paid by families ranged from $15,000 to $82,000. Litvak must serve at least six years before she’s eligible for parole. However, the families cannot get their money back.
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