Park Slope Real Estate Agent Busted for Allegedly Swindling Clients
PARK SLOPE — A real estate agent who allegedly preyed on people desperate to find an apartment was arrested after bilking clients out of more than $5,000, police said.
Brian Fuller, 25, a licensed real estate salesman with Rapid Realty, was arrested July 10 and charged with four counts of grand larceny and five counts of petit larceny.
Fuller declined to comment, and his attorney, Lance Lazzaro, could not be reached for comment immediately Tuesday. Representatives for Rapid Realty did not respond to a request for comment.
Fuller was still listed as an agent on the Rapid Realty website as of Tuesday afternoon. Posts on his Facebook page indicate that he got his real estate license in early 2013. Status updates show he was proud of his work. "On the way to the grand opening of my new franchise...Make that 62 franchise locations for Rapid Realty!!" he crowed in February.
Fuller vowed in a bio on the RentHop website, "I do not sleep until you have a place to sleep. Don't let other brokers try to sell you dreams. Let me help make them come true!"
But a criminal complaint filed by the Brooklyn District Attorney's office alleges that Fuller took advantage of some of his clients' naïveté about the cut-throat world of apartment hunting.
In one case, a 26-year-old client met with Fuller in April 2013 at the Rapid Realty office on Fourth Avenue and Degraw Street to discuss finding a new place to live. The client told investigators that Fuller informed him he "needed to put money down to be held in escrow" before Fuller would even show him an apartment, according to the criminal complaint.
The client, who was listed in a police report as a Staten Island resident, obeyed Fuller. Before their next meeting, the two met at a Bay Ridge Citibank where the client forked over $500 in cash. Fuller showed him an apartment, but the client didn't like it. Fuller promised to hold the client's money into an escrow account, according to the criminal complaint.
A few days later, Fuller and the same client repeated the process. The client handed Fuller $500 in cash, they saw an apartment that the client found lacking, and Fuller said he would keep the cash in the escrow account. On June 4, the client gave Fuller another $1,400, before being shown yet another apartment that didn't satisfy him, according to the complaint.
A few weeks later, the client told Fuller he was done working with him and asked for his money back. Despite several requests, the real estate agent wouldn't hand over the dough, according to the complaint.
A Rapid Realty employee told investigators she reviewed the firm's accounts and found no record of Fuller setting up an escrow account for the client, the criminal complaint states.
In another instance, a 21-year-old Brooklyn resident met with Fuller at Rapid Realty's Fourth Avenue office in May. Fuller found her an apartment the very next day, and told her she needed to give him money for a "down payment, rent and security." The young woman gave Fuller three $1,000 money orders. The money orders were blank, and Fuller told the client he would write in the landlord's name, according to the criminal complaint.
Fuller then told the client that the landlord was "acting shady" and advised her against taking the apartment. She followed his advice and went with him to see another apartment, which she liked. She gave Fuller "another sum of money" — the exact amount wasn't listed in the criminal complaint — and moved into the apartment.
Fuller never returned the three money orders. The client later got copies of the money orders and found that Fuller had filled in his own name, according to the criminal complaint.
Fuller was released on his own recognizance and was due in court again on July 17.