Mukta Bhattacharjee was ripe for a ripoff. A Buffalo landlord convinced her she could buy a nice house, with a downstairs apartment, on the city’s East Side for $60,000.
The retired teacher knew $60,000 would not buy much on Long Island, where she lived, so she went for the Buffalo deal. But when Mukta arrived at the dilapidated two-story house on Clark Street, it was nothing like the landlord had promised, although he was in the midst of making repairs, so she rented the upstairs apartment.
Bhattacharjee paid half down, $35,000 to the landlord, who identified himself as “Matt Damon,” but after making additional payments toward the purchase price, and paying the rent, the house was not livable, and Mukta was practically penniless, so she was force to live in a nearby homeless shelter for a while.
The Erie County Health Department posted an order, “Do Not Allow Occupancy of Dwelling Unit,” on the front door, and Bhattacharjee demanded her money back.
When “Matt Damon” refused to return her funds, and insisted that Mukta follow through on the sale and pay the balance, a Clark Street neighbor helped Bhattacharjee contact Lovejoy Councilman Richard Fontana.
Damon accused Mukta and the neighbor of trashing the property, and removing new windows and a door, but damage to the inside and outside of the building seems to be the result of years of neglect, rather than a few weeks of abuse.
The landlord agreed to give Mukta some of her money back, when he can get his hands on it, admitting he did not put her funds into escrow.
Both Bhattacharjee and Damon have filed police complaints, and but Mukta has taken the additional step of contacting the Erie County District Attorney.