DA Vance: Phony Realtor Sentenced to 2 1/3-to-7 Years in Prison for Harlem Apartment Scam

October 28, 2015

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the sentencing of KOUDEDJA DIAWARA, 55, to 2 1/3-to-7 years in state prison for stealing tens of thousands of dollars from the victims of a Harlem apartment scam. On October 8, 2015, the defendant pleaded guilty in New York State Supreme Court to Grand Larceny in the Third and Fourth Degrees, as well as Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree. 

“Scam artists choose their victims carefully,” said District Attorney Vance. “By taking advantage of a shared language, faith, or community, they are often able to earn their victims’ trust far before a crime is committed. In this case, the defendant specifically targeted  immigrants from African countries whom she believed she could intimidate with threats. However, my Office’s Immigrant Affairs Unit was created expressly to help crime victims, regardless of immigration status. I strongly encourage anyone who believes that he or she may have been the victim of this scam or a similar one to call my Office’s hotline at 212-335-3600.”

As admitted in the defendant’s guilty plea and according to documents filed in court, between 2012 and 2015, DIAWARA posed as a realtor and offered to help her victims find apartments in exchange for payments ranging from approximately $3,000 to more than $25,000. The defendant, who is originally from a country in Africa, knew many of her victims from a local place of worship, and in at least one instance, gained a victim’s trust because of a shared connection to the defendant’s hometown. However, instead of obtaining apartments for her victims, DIAWARA pocketed the money and, when confronted, made threats and refused to return the funds. As a result, many families were left homeless, including one with a sick infant.

Assistant District Attorney Tami Alpert handled the prosecution of the case, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Warren Murray, Chief of Trial Bureau 50, and Executive Assistant District Attorney John Irwin, Chief of the Trial Division.

Defendant Information:

New York, NY


  • Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 11 counts
  • Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, a class D felony, 2 counts
  • Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony, 2 counts


  • 2 1/3-to-7 years in state prison