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Trust and Common Sense on Trial in Queens

December 29, 2011
Plain English Version

EDITORIAL


A Guyanese real estate broker in Richmond Hill, Queens has allegedly cheated dozens of Guyanese immigrants in real estate deals. The FBI says, Edul Ahmad lured buyers into subprime mortgages, inflated the values of their properties and concealed his involvement by using false buyers. The FBI called it “mortgage fraud.”

The FBI gave this example: The broker offered a buyer of a three-family house for $880,000 but the broker warned of another bid. The broker demanded that the buyer close within a week. He insisted that they use his lawyer, his appraiser and his mortgage officer. The mortgage officer pushed the buyer to finance 95 percent of their home at a 12.5 percent rate. Within two years, the property was on the brink of foreclosure.

The so-called other buyers ready to make a bid existed only on paper.

The charges raise important questions: People trust people who are like them, have good reputations and are familiar to them. That is not enough. Using common sense means buyers have to use “due diligence” in any large financial transaction.

A boom, such as the real estate market in the 2000s, does not guarantee that large financial institutions are not ripping you off. In the great recession of 2008, there is blame all around. People you trust may not be trustworthy. Stories you believe may not be true.

Some say immigrants are more trusting of their fellow countrymen. Swindlers exist everywhere there is money to be made. The moral of this story is: do not let your guard down when you are discussing large amounts of money.

Edul Ahmad is well known in Richmond Hill. He has donated money to local politicians, and given generously to the community. He is now plea-bargaining with federal prosecutors.

Original story in The New York Times

 

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