March 9, 2016 By Jackie Strawbridge
An infamous Astoria realtor has been arrested for stealing thousands from potential renters, one day before his realty office was closed by court order.
Phivos Ioannou of Astoria First Realty was arrested Feb. 16 and charged with grand larceny and scheme to defraud, according to the Queens District Attorney’s office.
According to the criminal complaint, between November and February, Ioannou swindled three clients out of thousands of dollars by promising apartments that were not available.
Ioannou showed these clients apartments on Astoria Boulevard and 30th Drive, representing himself as authorized to rent them out and preparing leases. He then took deposits of $3,900 or $4,500.
However, after the deposits were paid, he allegedly told the clients that the apartments were no longer available and kept the cash.
Ioannou has attempted this same crime in the past.
In May 2015, PIX 11 investigated a complaint from two renters that Astoria First Realty stole $5,000 for a fraudulent apartment deposit.
Meanwhile, about a dozen customers have taken to Yelp to excoriate the business for other alleged scams and poor service.
This is also not Ioannou’s first arrest. He has served time in federal prison and was stripped of his license in 2012, according to reports from the time.
Astoria First Realty no longer operates out of its former spot at 32-05 31st Ave.; the business was evicted by court order on Feb. 17.
Ioannou’s attorney could not immediately be reached for comment.
His next court appearance is scheduled for April 19, according to the Queens DA’s office.