The Mafia might not exactly control real estate, but mobsters do like to invest in property. And when there's easy money to be made in real estate, it's even easier to find a Mafia connection with a scam.
During the run up to the housing bubble in 2008 and after the subsequent crash, it was Dominick DeVito, connected to the Genovese family, who was finding new ways to make bad deals for homeowners. DeVito was sentenced to nearly five years in prison for his particular real estate scheme, which involved buying up big houses in Westchester County, the suburbs just north of New York City, and selling them for outrageous profits. He and his associates lied to get the mortgages, then used the new homes as collateral for more mortgages, which eventually went into foreclosure — but not before they cashed in on some insurance money for things like broken pipes (freshly and very deliberately broken by the Mafia). When the housing market took a dive, the Genovese crew was there flipping foreclosures in the same way.
In another unexpected twist, relaxed lending practices by major banks and mortgage companies before the bust actually helped the loan sharking business. People apparently turned to home equity loans to erase mob debt [source: Smith].