A 43-year-old man is facing a series of felony charges for allegedly engaging in a rent scam targeting the immigrant community in Northern Westchester.
Jeffrey Pena of Thornwood surrendered himself into police custody on Thursday, and has been arraigned on eight felony counts in a scheme to defraud immigrants in the area.
Pena allegedly posted hand-written flyers in local businesses and told people he had an apartment available for rent, though he demanded rent money up front. Pena allegedly took between $1,700 and $3,600 from his victims and then never rented them any residence. The scheme ran from May last year through July this year.
Following his arraignment in Mount Pleasant Justice Court on Thursday, Pena was released on $2,500 cash bail, and he was ordered to surrender his passport. He is due back in court on Sept. 27.
Westchester County District Attorney Anthony Scarpino, Jr. said “it’s important for immigrants to know that all Westchester County residents have the right to live without being victimized by anyone and know they can report a crime committed against them or report a crime they have witnessed without fear--even if they don’t speak English, don’t understand the laws of the U.S., or are residing in the U.S. without legal status.
"Our office is here to help. We will meet with people anywhere they feel comfortable and speak with them in any language.
“Because immigrants are often exploited for their vulnerability, we believe they should know their rights and seek help without fear of reprisal. Most importantly, we want to make sure immigrants know they can reach out to our office whether they are victims of a crime or witnesses to a crime.”
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