A.G. Schneiderman Warns Against Stuyvesant Town Settlement Scam

Tenants Should Beware of Scam Calls Asking For Private Information

A.G. Schneiderman: Be Careful of Scammers Preying On Tenants

 

NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today issued an open letter to tenants of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village in Manhattan warning them of a possible scam related to a recently announced multi-million rent-rebate settlement. Last week, several tenants reported receiving what appear to be scam calls about the settlement, and in which they were asked to provide personal information.  The Attorney General warned residents about providing information to unknown callers and encouraged tenants to contact his office with information that may assist the investigation.

“My office will not stand by as con men prey on hard-working tenants, and we will take action if New Yorkers have been ripped off,” Attorney General Schneiderman said.  “I commend those who reported this for coming forward and encourage other tenants – and all New Yorkers – to be careful when providing personal information over the phone. Together we will fight back against bottom-feeders who seek to take advantage of the public.”  

On December 11, New York City Councilmember Daniel Garodnick reached out to the Attorney General’s office to report that several tenants of the complexes had received telephone calls from individuals claiming to be the claims administrator of the Settlement.  The callers attempted to solicit personal information from the tenants on the pretext that this information is required for the tenants to recover on the Settlement.  The Attorney General’s office determined that these calls were not from the Settlement claims administrator or anybody else legitimately affiliated with the Settlement.  Instead, the calls were a scam apparently designed to deceive tenants of the complexes into disclosing highly personal information to fraudsters who will use this information for their own personal gain.

The Roberts v. Tishman Speyer case was settled on November 30th and will result in nearly $69 million being returned to tenants overcharged for rent between 2003 and 2011.    The case was initially filed in 2007 by Stuyvesant Town residents against Tishman Speyer and Met Life, the former owner of the East Village building complex, claiming that units had been illegally deregulated while the development was receiving aJ-51 tax abatement.  The state’s top court, ruled in favor of the tenants in October 2009 and a settlement was reached this fall.  The case involved the status of 4,311 apartments and will impact approximately 22,000 current and former residents.  

"We are going to nip this scam in the bud," said Garodnick, who is also a tenant. "We are pleased to have the force of the New York Attorney General on our side.  Class members are strongly discouraged from sharing any personal information on the phone.  The attorneys and claim administrator will contact them via mail in January with details specific to their damages and future rent calculations."

Any residents with information related tothis scam should call the Attorney General’s hotline at (800) 771-7755 or file a consumer complaint, available online at http://www.ag.ny.gov/consumer-frauds/Filing-a-Consumer-Complaint.

Tips to guard against scam calls, solicitations and telemarketing:

  • Never provide your personal, bank account or credit card information to anyone who contacts you through a telephone or Internet solicitation.
  • Be careful about disclosing your personally identifiable information, such as your mother’s maiden name and Social Security number.
  • Request that the caller send you information in the mail

It is estimated that consumers lose $40 billion a year through telemarketing fraud. A recent Louis-Harris Survey conducted for the National Consumers League found that 92% of adults in the U.S. reported receiving fraudulent telemarketing offers. The FBI estimates that there are 14,000 illegal telephone sales operations deceiving consumers every day.

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