BUSHWICK — A serial con artist walked away with $975 from a man who thought he had secured an apartment with the cash deposit, according to police.
Now police are searching for a man named Nathan Smith, 37, who they suspect is behind the Feb. 27 theft that took place in a Wilson Avenue apartment.
Smith met the 25-year-old victim through Craigslist, according to police, and claimed that the $975 would get him an apartment near the intersection of Wilson Avenue and Starr Street.
But later the victim found out that the apartment already had tenants and that Smith had no right to rent it out in the first place. The man tried getting his money back from Smith to no avail, and Smith promptly fled, police said.
Smith, 37, affiliated with an company called Stone House Management Inc. has a history of shady Craigslist dealings dating back to 2014, according to multiple reports from PIX11 as well as several negative reviews on the site Rip Off Report from renters who claim to have been scammed by him.
Smith was sued in 2013 by more than a dozen would-be renters who claimed they'd been caught up in his scam, according to court records and Lee Copage, an attorney in the suit, who was himself a victim of Smith's.
"Oh my, God he's doing it again," said Copage, reached on the phone Tuesday morning.
Copage and his roommate lost $3,750 to Smith for an apartment they tried to rent near Bushwick and Halsey, he said.
Following the lawsuit, there was a criminal investigation and Smith eventually paid restitution to his victims but never spent any time in jail, Copage said.
"All you had to say was 'Nathan Smith,' [and I thought], 'Oh well, he's back to his old tricks."
Smith's last known address was in Williamsburg on Boerum Street, according to police. Smith couldn't be reached for comment.
Police and the Brooklyn District Attorney's office couldn't immediately provide any further information about Smith's priors.
Anyone with information about Smith's whereabouts is asked to call NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS.
Trevor Kapp contributed reporting