‘Fake Architect’ Scam Channels ‘Seinfeld’ Plot

A man in upstate New York posing as a registered architect allegedly duped businesses and municipalities out of more than $200,000 since 2010. New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said the scam was similar to a storyline that appeared on the hit 1990s TV show “Seinfeld.”

Paul J. Newman allegedly drafted architectural renderings for more than 100 commercial and residential properties in Albany, Rensselaer, and Saratoga counties. Newman is accused of submitting forged stamps for more than 1,000 building plans and inspections to several municipalities. He also reportedly was hired to work on townhomes and senior-living communities.

“For over seven years, the defendant has pretended to be a registered architect, deceiving hundreds of New Yorkers—including families and senior citizens—with the sole goal of enriching himself,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “By allegedly falsifying building plans, code compliance inspections, and field reports, the defendant jeopardized the safety of those who resided in and frequented the buildings he was contracted to work on.”

Newman, the president of Cohesion Studios Inc., could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

Schneiderman hinted at the “Seinfeld” comparison by dubbing the charges “Operation Vandelay Industries.” That is the name of the company where one of the show’s main characters, George Costanza, had said he interviewed to become a salesman. Costanza often pretended to be an architect on the hit show.

Source: “In Operation Vandelay Industries, Prosecutors Allege Real-Life ‘Seinfeld’ Plot,” The New York Times (April 20, 2017) and The New York State Office of the Attorney General