Man Sells Off NYC House After Homeowner's Death — Turns Out She's Still Alive

A scheme to sell a Queens family home right out from under the homeowner's nose almost worked if not for some meddling county officials.

The Queens district attorney announced Friday the foiled attempt by a Brooklyn man to sell the Jamaica property through a series of forged documents that included a fake death certificate.

Christopher Williams, 41, filed papers last August claiming ownership of the home four years after the death of its owner, District Attorney Melinda Katz stated. It turns out, though, that the homeowner has been very much alive the entire time.

According to a complaint, the Brownsville man sold the house on August 6, for $270,000 cash, after filing paperwork to transfer the house into his name by claiming to be the homeowner's heir.

Among the paperwork submitted last year, Williams allegedly forged birth certificates proving his relation to the family in addition to a death certificate claiming his mother had died in 2017. One big misstep: he spelled her last name wrong.

"Deed fraud is unfortunately on the rise throughout the borough and oftentimes, the rightful property owner is not aware that their home was taken away through fraudulent means," District Attorney Katz.

Department of Finance Commissioner Preston Niblack credits foiling the man's almost $300,000 crime to a notification program designed to identify possible targets and intervene in potential criminal matters.

"The Office of the City Register notifies homeowners whenever a document is filed against their property. The City Register and the Office of the Sheriff work together in identifying potential fraudulent transactions and will continue to aggressively investigate these horrific crimes," Niblack said.

Williams faces a handful of charges including grand larceny, falsifying business records, identity theft and scheme to defraud, among others. He's scheduled back in court in late July.

Attorney information for the 41-year-old was not immediately available.

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