Is it possible to steal a large $2 billion skyscraper such as the Empire State Building? And I don’t just mean robbing an office or two, i mean literally stealing the entire building. Well, it is possible and not that hard actually. Back in 2008, New York Daily News did it in 90 minutes.
Here’s the story.
Around Thanksgiving in 2008, Daily News created a batch of bogus documents, signifying the transfer of Empire State Building ownership from Empire State Land Associates to a company called Nelots Properties LLC. The papers were submitted to the city register and, even though there were some laughable hints hidden within the documents, none of the clerks noticed this weird transaction. First of all, the name “Nelots” is “stolen” spelled backwards. In addition to that, one of the witnesses was Fay Wray, the actress who played on the original 1933 King Kong film (a pun on King Kong’s climbing on the Empire State Building). Even the notary was a guy named Willie Sutton, who “coincidentally” shared name with a famous early 1900s bank robber. (the article continues after the ad)
The papers were submitted on a Monday morning and in just 90 minutes, the agency rubber-stamped the transfer officially declaring a fake company as the owner of Empire State Building. Of course, Daily News returned the building to its rightful owners on Tuesday but that transaction revealed a great loophole on the system as clerks are not required to verify any of the information presented to them on papers. And while of course, the stealing of a building would not go unnoticed for long, crooks can get big mortgages and disappear.
Oh, and if you think that this is impossible to happen, here are a few notable examples:
– Asia Smith from Springfield Gardens, Queens did it to her 88-year-old grandmother’s house and pocketed $445,000 in mortgages.
– Toma Dushevic did the trick and managed to steal not 1, not 2, but 7 city-owned buildings in Brooklyn. He even renovated them and rented out apartments for two years.
– A man who posed as someone who had been dead for 19 years, deeded the dead man’s property and took out a whopping $533,000 mortgage before vanishing with the cash.
These examples are far from being rare. According to FBI, in 2006 lenders lost a total of $813 million in fraud mortgages. Of course, NYC with its high value land was on the top 10 mortgage fraud states.
If you like what you read, then you will definitely love this one: The Weird Story Of Mr. 880, The 1$ Counterfeiter
Main Article Photo: Georgie Pauwels / Flickr, Free-Photos / Pixabay
Photoshop: I’m A Useless Info Junkie
Sources: It took 90 minutes for Daily News to ‘steal’ the Empire State Building