Real Estate Company Reviewing Arrested Agent's Past Deals for 'Malfeasance'
PARK SLOPE — Officials with a local real estate brokerage are poring over deals conducted by an agent who allegedly bilked clients out of thousands of dollars to see if he cheated other clients.
Brian Fuller, 25, was arrested July 10 after he allegedly swindled two apartment hunters out of more than $5,000. He was charged with four counts of grand larceny and five counts of petit larceny. His attorney did not respond to a request for comment.
On Wednesday, his agency Rapid Realty released a statement saying the company has "zero tolerance" for agents who violate the law or take advantage of clients.
"We take these matters very seriously, and will do everything in our power to ensure that justice is served for the victims of this crime," a Rapid spokesman said.
One of Fuller's alleged victims, a first-time New York apartment hunter who asked not to be identified by age or gender, hopes to get a full refund despite an admission of naïveté.
"How was I supposed to know? He seemed like he was legit," the victim said.
Fuller probably seemed like the real deal because he was — for a time.
He got his real estate license in March 2011 and started working for Rapid that same month. He soon established himself as a "high-performing" agent, the spokesman said.
"We don't know what could have possessed him to start breaking the law to make extra money, because as far as we were concerned he was doing just fine," the spokesman said. "It's baffling to us, because he was a productive agent."
Fuller was a busy agent who completed a "sizable number" of deals, all of which are now being reviewed for signs of "malfeasance," the spokesman said.
It was the broker at Fuller's Rapid Realty office who first uncovered the alleged misdeeds. Brokers require more education and licensing than real estate salespeople and are ultimately responsible for the actions of their agents.
Broker Nina Rodriguez at Rapid's office on Fourth Avenue and Degraw Street found hints that Fuller might have been up to no good when she conducted a routine review of pending deals.
Rodriguez "immediately" alerted the police, but couldn't file a report because she herself wasn't the victim of Fuller's alleged crimes, the Rapid spokesman said. Rodriguez tracked down the victims and convinced them to go to the cops.
The clients weren't necessarily going to pursue action on their own, the spokesman said, perhaps because they weren't well-informed about real estate.
"The unfortunate thing is these people were victimized," the spokesman said. "The New York real estate market is so intense. People often feel powerless, so when someone comes along and takes advantage of them, they don't necessarily question it."
Fuller was fired July 10 and his real estate license was revoked July 11.
The New York Department of State, which oversees the real estate industry, is conducting its own investigation into Fuller's alleged crimes. "The investigation will encompass the brokerage, their knowledge of the alleged acts and related details," a DOS spokesman said.
Rapid Realty, which was founded in 1998, has about 900 agents working at 62 locations, including offices in New Jersey, Boston and San Diego.
"When someone takes advantage of someone like this, it casts a black cloud over not just us, but the entire industry," the Rapid spokesman said. "One good thing is, the system worked the way it was supposed to work. When the broker saw something that smelled funny, she pursued it vigorously."