Eight Irish students were scammed out of thousands of dollars after being told a luxurious loft apartment was available to them for summer rental in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
One of the victims of a scam that left him and seven others out of pocket for the past seven weeks. The 19-year-old student and his friends were duped out of thousands by two Brooklyn men posing as landlords of a luxurious spacious loft in Williamsburg.
The student, from Limerick City, came to New York on May 28 with one thing in mind -- “to have great fun, work, get out of Limerick and experience all New York has to offer.”
The 19-year-old psychology student at the University of Limerick, was staying with his uncle in the city for a few days when a friend also in New York for the summer notified him that she had found “an amazing” loft apartment on Craigslist.
The ad offered rooms for rent “in a brand new, huge, two-floor loft in the absolute best part of Brooklyn” for $1,100 per room per month.
The ad also said that existing roommates in the loft included a "carefully selected great group of students, artists, actors/models, interns and those interested in film and TV production.”
Impressed with the offer, the student and two of his friends took a trip out to Brooklyn to meet with the two men leasing the loft.
“The ad sounded amazing. It said the loft had all the amenities, including air conditioning, roof access, gym access, laundry facilities, everything we needed for a comfortable summer,” he told the Irish Voice during his lunch break on Tuesday.
“However, when we got there the place was like one big warehouse.”
The two men doing the leasing, Desmond Eaddy and Ronnie Barron, told the students that plans were in place to get the loft turned into rooms in a matter of days.
“They told us this wasn’t like Ireland. Things get done super fast here, and they promised to have the place divided into eight rooms in a few days,” he recalls.
“They even said they had purchased all the stuff from Home Depot to get started.”
Although feeling slightly uneasy, the Limerick student and his two friends weren’t deterred and agreed to move in. They even rounded up another five Irish students who were seeking accommodations.
“We were really naïve about the whole thing looking back, but we really wanted it to be true,” he added.
By the end of the following week, they each had handed over $1,000 – some forked out $1,200 -- and were anxious to move in.
While the loft was apparently being renovated into an eight-bedroom apartment, Study and his friends were allowed to sleep on the floor of another apartment, which Eaddy and Barron used as an apartment too.
“It was getting crazy because the tenants in this apartment were becoming outraged that there was so many of us sleeping on their floor, so finally we were kicked out and had to find our own place with no money cause we had handed it over for the rent,” he explains.
The students were told that apartment would be ready to move into on June 15. That date was pushed back to 17, then to 20 then to 23, and finally they were told it would be the middle of July before it would be ready.
“At this stage we were becoming very frustrated and finding it very hard to live day to day because we had no money,” said the Limerick man.
They would visit the apartment on various occasions to see its progress, but there never was any.
“At one point they used the excuse that we couldn’t move in because the place was freshly painted and the fumes were too dangerous,” he said.
A trip to the apartment a few days later revealed dry walls that had not been painted. Trying to work and find a place to stay each night was becoming a challenge.
“I had a long way to travel to my job and then at times I didn’t know where I’d be sleeping that night,” he said.
His first job in Coney Island saw him bussing tables and earning $7 an hour. He was just about able to feed himself. He recently stared a job in a hotel in Times Square, but his weekly income is $270 a week.
“One night at 3 a.m. after work in Coney Island I went back to the apartment we were given to tide us over and these guys (Eaddy and Barron) told me I couldn’t stay there because the place was too full, so I had to take all my gear and ride the subway to a hostel on the Upper East Side,” he said.
The weekend of July 4 the students were told they could start to move in their gear. Finally light at the end of the tunnel they thought. That was until the Limerick student had dropped off his gear -- in the still unfinished loft -- and upon returning discovered that the place was locked up.
“I had no access of my bags or clothes for four days straight,” he shared.
At this stage the landlord of the building was made aware that Eaddy and Barron planned to sublet the lot as apartments and make a bit of money off it on the side.
According to the student, the landlord told them at a meeting last week that the building was for commercial business only and never intended or allowed legally to be turned into apartments. Eaddy and Barron had a verbal contract with the landlord to rent the loft for the purpose of shooting videos.
“We were stunned. Finally we were being told that our dream loft was never going to happen,” he said.
Eaddy and Barron would not return their calls, and finally after days of persistence he managed to get only $80 back from the two men. He is still waiting on the remainder of his money, as are the rest of the Irish students.
“If I could get that money back I may be able to live out the final seven weeks of my time in New York in a good way, but we’ll see,” he said.
Eaddy and Barron have been reported to the police for their actions.