Brenda Williams, 55, paid only $287 a month for the 550-square-foot apartment. It is now worth $2,200.
Williams convinced her building's co-op board that Debbie Vaughan, her aunt who died at 93 years old in 2007, was still alive.
It was only after the co-op president entered the apartment with a maintenance worker to fix a leak that she discovered what was really going on.
Williams said the landlord, Phil Cramer, knew what was happening and knew that Vaughan was dead but let her stay at the residence on Vanderbilt Avenue.
"I've been living here since 1985. He knew I was there - he met me there," Williams said. "They think since she passed away that I can't stay."
"All of a sudden they want to come at me with their big guns. Pull out whatever you need. I'll pull out what I got."
Cramer is trying to evict Williams from the apartment, but Williams isn't planning on moving anytime soon.
He said he kept Vaughan's rent low and paid her co-op maintenance charge because she was a senior citizen.
"She's an old lady," he said. "I thought if anything happened to me, I didn't want anybody kicking her out."
"I was trying to do a good thing, but sometimes that can backfire on you. That's what happened here."
When co-op president Diana Hansen-Young went to fix a leak in the apartment with a plumber in 2010, Williams blocked the door and said her aunt was sick and shouldn't be bothered.
Hansen-Young went with her gut instinct and entered anyways, finding that the room was empty with a bare mattress.
Williams said she was living in the apartment, but Cramer's lawyer Peter Sanders, who filed a $405,000 lawsuit, said that Williams was living with her boyfriend a block away.
"I'm going to stay calm," Williams said. "I've got some Easter eggs to hide and to find. I'm not going to worry about it."