Arrest in dozens of identity thefts in LeFrak City

Stacey Sager has the story from Kew Gardens
October 8, 2013 3:26:26 PM PDT
A tenant at a large, well known, apartment complex is accused of stealing the identity of dozens of his neighbors.

He's accused of stealing more than a hundred thousand dollars using their identities.

The suspect and the victims live in LeFrak City in Elmhurst, Queens.

The indictment against Olawale Akinnawonu says he had 25 victims, but after authorities searched his apartment at LeFrak City Tuesday, they found evidence of at least 70 more.

Akinnawonu was no techie, authorities say the identity theft was through a mail slot inside the buildings at LeFrak City. Video surveillance shows Akinnawonu allegedly using the "backscratcher" stick which he'd snake through the slot to fish out people's rent checks and other important bills in order to steal from them.

Tenants at LeFrak, many of them who live paycheck to paycheck, were in disbelief since the theft went unnoticed at first, until at least 15 tenants complained about missing money.

"People's Christmas money, their holiday money, then it's just taken out of their mailbox like that," said Pernet Greene, a LeFrak tenant.

"Heck I work hard, I'm retired from Verizon. (So, if someone took your rent money?) I'd be devastated," said Carol Murray, a LeFrak tenant.

A spokesperson for LeFrak City saying, "We are cooperating fully with the District Attorney's Office and have no further comment on this matter."

"It's a shame, in my building, they break into the mailbox as well, it's a shame," said John Banks, a LeFrak tenant.

"How do you pay your rent? Do you pay it through that outbox?" Eyewitness News asked.

"No, we take it directly there, safety," Banks said.