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Manhattanite gets 3-9 years in Little Neck mortgage scam

A 35-year-old Manhattan man has been sentenced to prison for having used a forged power of attorney to unlawfully obtain a mortgage on his mother-in-law’s Little Neck condominium and steal more than $300,000, the Queens district attorney said.

Shih Siang Shawn Liao, of 300 W. 110th St. in Manhattan, pleaded guilty Dec. 16, 2008, to grand larceny before Queens Supreme Court Justice Pauline Mullings, who gave the defendant an indeterminate sentence of three to nine years, Queens DA Richard Brown said.

Liao is the founder and president of Hydra Buildings, which has offices in Manhattan and extensive business dealings in London and Hong Kong. On Hydra’s Web site, an announcement from Nov. 1 said the company was no longer located on West 57th Street in Manhattan.

Visitors to the site were directed to hydraglobal.com, at which a company called Hydra Wireless Corp. operates.

“The victim had accepted the defendant as family and, in turn, he thanked her by draining the equity from her condo, stripping her of all of her financial security,” the DA said. “In seeking justice in this case, it was important that the defendant not only pay for his crime but take steps to repay his mother-in-law the money he had stolen.”

Prior to the theft, the condominium owned by Fanny Lam Kwan Lam, 54, the defendant’s mother-in-law, had been free of any mortgages.

As part of his sentence, Liao signed a confession of judgment in which he admitted he owed a debt, including late charges, totaling $444,892, Brown said. The money will be paid to Lam and Chase Home Finance.

The defendant took out the mortgage on the property, located along the Douglaston Parkway in Little Neck, and had the proceeds deposited into an account, from which he withdrew the money through transfers to Hydra Buildings as well as payments to several credit card companies, such as American Express, Discover, Citibank, Capital One and Chase Bank.

The credit card accounts were all formed by Liao or his company, the DA said.

The DA’s Economic Crimes Bureau found the address on the victim’s Washington Mutual account had been changed from her Queens residence to a post office box address that belonged to Hydra Buildings.

A DA spokeswoman said the incident was not part of a divorce dispute but that the defendant and his wife have since filed for divorce.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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