Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Search Ongoing For Mom/Son Duo For Allegedly Snatching Possession Of Vacant Foreclosed Homes Throughout South Jersey, Then Selling/Renting Them To 20+ Unwitting Buyers/Renters; Woman's History Includes Real Estate License Revocation For Misappropriating Clients' Funds

In Camden, New Jersey, the Courier-Post reports:
  • Authorities say a Philadelphia woman and her son may have duped more than 20 people into turning over cash for bogus real estate transactions across South Jersey.

    Lisa Smith, 51, entered foreclosed properties unlawfully, then posed as a real estate agent to purportedly sell or lease the properties to unwitting consumers, the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office alleges.

    She allegedly took checks worth $27,500 and $18,000 from people seeking to buy homes for cash in Sicklerville and Camden, respectively, in April 2015.

    “Neither victim obtained the property they were attempting to purchase nor received their money back,” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

    Another victim allegedly paid $3,000 in September 2015 to rent a foreclosed property in Sicklerville.

    Some victims realized their formerly vacant homes no longer had plumbing only when they attempted to move in, the prosecutor's office said.

    Smith is charged with three counts of theft by deception, but investigators are seeking additional victims. She and her son, Kristian "Frank" Edmonds, 28, also face burglary charges for allegedly entering foreclosed houses without authorization.

    An investigation has identified more than 20 potential victims in the tri-county area, the prosecutor’s office said. “Charges are pending further investigation in many of these cases," it said.

    Authorities said Smith, who also uses the name Lisa Edmonds, posed as a real estate agent and created a phony purchase agreement for two properties in foreclosure. According to state records, Smith’s real estate license and her eligibility for a broker’s license were revoked for life in March 2010.

    At that time, the state Real Estate Commission found Smith had misappropriated clients' funds, had made false statements to a client and had issued a bad check, among other offenses.

    According to the prosecutor's office, Smith and her son, whose last known address was in Sicklerville, entered foreclosed properties “by unlawfully using keys from real estate lockboxes or having the properties re-keyed.” Edmonds allegedly posed as a real estate agent while inside a foreclosed property in Winslow, it said.

    Warrants for each suspect were outstanding on Thursday.

    The transactions were conducted under the name of REQ (Real Estate Queens) Realtors in Turnersville and Sterling Realty Investments in Philadelphia. They also were affiliated with two Collingswood firms — Angel Home Savers and Breeze Capital Consulting Group.

    Sterling Realty had its business license revoked by the state for not filing reports in 2009. REQ Realtors has no business filings with the state.

    Anyone who believes they were a victim of these companies or suspects is asked to call Prosecutor’s Detective Grace Clodfelter at (856) 225-8479. Information may also be emailed to ccpotips@ccprosecutor.org.

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