A Jamaica Estates man cheated more than 45 victims out of at least $20,000 over the last five years by promising to sell them impounded luxury vehicles from the New York City auto pound, authorities said last week.
Maurice Knight, 25, of 90-46 181st St., allegedly told victims, some of whom were friends of his fiancée, that his father was a chief in the New York Police Department and could get new cars that are seized by the NYPD before they are auctioned, said Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes.
In exchange for money, Knight provided victims with receipts stamped with an NYPD logo and marked "paid," the DA said.
Knight was arrested at 1445 East 104th St. in Brooklyn on Jan. 14 at about 7 a.m., said authorities. He was charged with petit larceny, forgery, criminal impersonation and scheming to defraud, said DA Hynes.
When authorities conducted a search of Knight's residence, they found copies of receipts for sales of vehicles and NYPD stamps. In addition, they found Fire Department uniforms, military uniforms and paraphernalia as well as garments to impersonate a transit safety official and a St. John's University professor, officials said.
"From what I understand, he was impersonating a fire officer, collecting funds from people for various charities," said a representative of the Fire Department of New York.
Some investigators said Knight's alleged impersonations reminded them of the recent movie, "Catch Me If You Can," where Leonardo Di Caprio plays a character who cheats people out of millions by impersonating an airline worker, lawyer and doctor among others.
Reach reporter Tien-Shun Lee by email at Timesledger@aol.com, or call 229-0300, Ext. 155.
©2003 Community News Group
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