A Brooklyn real estate developer allegedly vanished with more than $4 million of his clients’ money – putting the group of 20 Asian immigrant families at risk of being kicked out of their homes, The Post has learned.
The families had given developer Xi Hui “Steven” Wu tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars each in deposits to buy condos in their Bay Ridge apartment building, located at 345 Ovington Ave., according to lawsuits filed by the families and their lawyer.
But Wu allegedly vanished without giving residents title deeds to their units — as it turns out he didn’t have New York state permission to sell condos in the building, lawsuits allege. by families.
“It’s definitely devastating for us,” said Chin How “Rei” Tan, who told the Post he paid Wu $187,000 for the condo where his 88-year-old father and 80-year-old mother have lived since. 2015.
“It will be terrible,” Tan, 47, said of his parents potentially having to move house. “[They] were supposed to be here for another 30 years hopefully.
“Where are they going to stay?” Tan asked. “It was supposed to be the apartment they retired to.”
Along with the money for the condo — half the total cost of the unit Wu was selling — Tan said the family also paid $7,000 in what the developer claimed was condo fees.
Edward Cuccia, an attorney representing the families, told the Post that Wu allegedly “ran a massive scam where he deceived more than 20 immigrant families not only about their savings, but also about their hopes and dreams of owning a home. “.
“Now these families face eviction and total loss,” Cuccia said. “This is the most egregious case of real estate fraud I have ever seen in my more than 30 years of practicing law.”
Wu began attracting buyers in 2012, collecting amounts ranging from tens of thousands to more than $500,000 from each family as deposits on their homes — and promising to give them title to the units, according to the lawsuits.
He pocketed various percentages of residents’ deposits — and even took the full amount of the cost of a few families’ homes, according to Cuccia.
Wu never followed through with the transfer of ownership to the residents — who had moved into the building in the meantime — because he was not licensed by the state to sell condos in the building, according to the lawsuits.
Instead, he stopped payments on a $6million loan he took out to build the apartments — and ran off with the deposits, Cuccia claims.
In May, residents obtained judgments against Wu for the money they paid him.
But their future is still uncertain, as lender Maxim Credit Group, LLC has foreclosed on the building — leaving residents open to eviction, Cuccia said.
The building will be auctioned on July 28 and after that the new owner could initiate eviction proceedings against the residents, the lawyer explained.
“We didn’t cause it ourselves,” Tan told the Post. “The developer, Steve Wu, he should be responsible.”
Tan said he hopes they can find a solution so residents can continue to live in the building.
Ka Cheng “Kris” Chan said her mother, Cheng Peng Chu, 60, paid Wu $200,000 – her savings – for the apartment she moved into in 2014.
“She’s very angry,” Chan said of her mother, who works as a restaurant waitress and immigrated to the United States about 10 years ago. “We all know [Wu] in the neighborhood. How could he do this to us?
“We feel like he really betrayed us. He just left the project,” said Chan, who until recently lived in the apartment with his mother.
Residents will meet with local politicians on Wednesday to try to garner attention and support for their situation in hopes of halting their possible eviction.
Attorneys for Maxim Credit Group, Wu and attorneys for Wu did not respond to requests for comment.