QUEENS, New York (WABC) -- An apartment rental ruse left scores of residents out of thousands of dollars, and on Thursday, the victims finally had their day in court.
It's a story that 7 On Your Side has been investigating for more than a decade. A Queens man posed as a landlord, soliciting tens of thousands of dollars from renters, who eventually found out that the apartment listing didn't even exist.
After all these years, the victims of the rip-off finally got some good news.
It's been five years since 7 On Your Side was last face to face with Shahab Roy Khan.
Back in 2018, Nina Pineda had convinced him to give $3,000 in cash back to Barbara Baez, a pregnant mother who had paid to move into an apartment in Khan's mother's house that wasn't available for rent. Days later he was arrested for scamming dozens of others in the rental ruse.
The Queens district attorney said Khan has pleaded guilty for ripping off scores of would-be tenants. He was recently re-arrested on a domestic assault charge and now faces a heavier sentence, but not before his victims got their day in court to talk about how he ruined their lives and took hard-earned money.
"Waiting having all your stuff packed away and not having anywhere to go, and again this was the very least we could do," Queens Assistant District Attorney Matthew Yi said.
The Queens District Attorney's Office handed out restitution checks totaling more than $40,000.
"I'm happy to give their money back but it's really about this individual who continues to take advantage of people who sometimes can't fight for themselves that's what I'm for," Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.
Two women had to live in a homeless shelter after Khan stole their $2,400 deposit in the apartment dupe.
Khan ran advertisements on Craigslist and would pretend to rent out the same room in his mom's house over and over when we went there five years ago. No one ever got to move in.
"He scammed a lot of people and took a lot of money," victim Stephen Soto said.
"I'm excited to see him going behind bars," victim Redeem Rajeev said.
Khan's lawyer said his client worked hard as a truck driver to pay his victims $40,000.
"It's certainly not the conduct I would recommend to anyone," said Khan's defense attorney Michael Horn when asked what he thinks about his client who kept committing the same crimes against the victims.
But Horn said Khan is remorseful.
Since Khan was re-arrested on the assault charge, which was a violation of probation, he now faces seven to 15 years behind bars. His sentencing is on February 14.
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