Saturday, September 15, 2007

Novel Approach To Stave Off Foreclosure Lands NY Couple In Hot Water

Finding themselves facing foreclosure and unable to unload a second home that they owned in a faltering real estate market, a married Westchester County, New York mortgage broker couple came up with an approach in an attempt to help overcome their financial situation that local cops took exception to, according to a couple of media reports. They allegedly began operating a brothel out of the second home, which was located in the city of New Rochelle.

Reportedly, New Rochelle detectives were "doing routine monitoring of the Internet" and saw ads on recently and figured out that "possible prostitution activities" were going on at the house. An undercover operation at the home confirmed the prostitution, according to cops, and resulted in the arrest of Robert Werner, 34, and his 32-year-old wife, Heather Ann Mazzenga, as well as other four women.

The arrests came two days after the couple filed for bankruptcy, and one day after the scheduled foreclosure sale of their home in Pleasantville, New York was cancelled. For more, see:

Ex-Pennsylvania Attorney Gets 51 Months For Stealing From Dead Clients; Cheating IRS

The Morning Call (Allentown, PA) reports:
  • A former South Whitehall attorney will spend 51 months in prison and must pay more than $1.4 million in restitution for stealing from the estates of deceased clients and cheating on his taxes, all while living an opulent lifestyle that included two homes and five cars. Michael Kasprenski, 44, ... was indicted by a federal grand jury in June 2006 and pleaded guilty in February of this year to 24 counts of mail, wire and bank fraud and failing to file federal income taxes.

  • In one theft, Kasprenski took a check destined to pay off a client's mortgage and deposited it into his attorney account to pay personal bills.

For more, see Ex-attorney sentenced for cheating and stealing (story no longer available online).

Pennsylvania Man Pleads Guilty In Pool Fraud

The Courier Post Online reports:
  • "A swimming pool contractor admitted [last month] that he defrauded customers in four [South New Jersey] counties of approximately $60,000 after they ordered in-ground pools. Ellwood Thomson, 50, of Morrisville, Pa., who also traded as Pool Pros, pleaded guilty in [Burlington County, NJ] Superior Court to seven counts of theft and agreed to a state prison sentence on Nov. 30. [...] The defendant agreed to serve up to six years in prison -- three of which would be mandatory before parole -- and to pay restitution to the victims. [...] Thomson admitted he took deposits and did not install pools for customers ... . The specific charge is theft by failing to make required disposition of property."

Reportedly, the states of Delaware and Pennsylvania have brought similar charges against Thomson and have issued arrest detainers with Burlington County, NJ authorities. Thomson had taken off to Florida around the time of the original ten count, 2005 indictment, and wasn't arrested until early this year. For more, see Contractor guilty in pool fraud.

Two Mississippi Judges, Trial Lawyer Get Multi Year Prison Sentences

Business Insurance reports:
  • "A prominent Mississippi trial lawyer and two state judges have been sentenced to prison for bribery schemes that included fixing a local bank’s bad-faith claim against insurer United States Fidelity & Guaranty Co. Jackson, Miss.-based Chief U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate last Friday sentenced Paul S. Minor, a past president of the Mississippi Trial Lawyers Assn., to 11 years and prison and fined him $2.7 million. The judge also sentenced Walter W. Teel, a former state chancery court judge, to five years and 10 months in jail and John H. Whitfield, a former state circuit judge, to nine years and two months. A federal jury in Jackson convicted the three men in March on all 14 charges against them, including bribery, racketeering and fraud."

For more, see Miss. lawyer, judges sentenced for bribery schemes.

Go here for other stories on judges who allegedly may have "lost their way". naughty judges

Arizona Foreclosure Investor Discovers Home May Have Hosted Dogfights

In Maricopa County, Arizona, the East Valley Tribune reports:
  • Bruce Jaynes purchased a home late last year, sight unseen in a foreclosure deal, only later to discover what he determined were remains of a dog-fighting training ground. He and girlfriend Sharon Pihl found 32 different stakes with chains in the ground, along with a darkened shed, of which the bottom flooring covered a deep pit the couple believed was used for the burial of the dogs. [...] “There were a couple guys coming in trucks loaded up with pit bulls looking for the former owners,” Pihl said. “After we started querying (the neighbors) about it, that’s when we found out that’s what they were doing.”
For more, see Dogfighting evidence found at Maricopa home.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Embattled Fort Myers Real Estate Broker Reported Missing In New Jersey

(updated 9-22-07)
WBBH-TV in Fort Myers reports that local real estate broker Frank D'Alessandro, who is among the defendants in dozens of state court lawsuits and two suits filed recently in federal court that claim that the investors were deceived into buying homes under the notion that they would make specified returns on their investment, has been reported missing on the New Jersey shore and is the subject of a Coast Guard search.

According to the story:
  • Family members say he went missing on Tuesday around 10 p.m. after kayaking from the residence he was renting. D'Alessandro's family told the Coast Guard and the Point Pleasant Beach Police Department on Wednesday that he was not heard from as expected. The Coast Guard found an overturned orange kayak nine miles off Point Pleasant Beach, but there’s no sign of 52-year-old D'Alessandro. Officials say all indications are that it was the same kayak he was using.

For more, see Frank D'Alessandro reported missing in New Jersey.

For story updates, see:

Go here for other posts on the lawsuits involving D'Allesandro and others.

26 Individuals & Companies Indicted In Cleveland Area Mortgage Fraud

In Cuyahoga County, Ohio, four more cases of mortgage fraud were indicted today, involving 26 individuals and entities and four houses in Solon, totaling over $2.6 million in fraudulent loans. Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason announced the indictments Thursday from a lectern in front of one of the properties, a currently vacant, 4,400-square-foot house with a four-car garage, which at one point sold for $725,000. According to one report:
  • Prosecutors say in the cases announced Thursday, mortgage brokers, loan officers and building contractors conspired to inflate prices, forge papers and lie about buyers' incomes to get loans and pocket cash. Straw buyers never saw or lived in the homes.

For the specific details of each of the four separate cases, see the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Press Release - Four Mortgage Fraud Cases Indicted 4 Houses in Solon, Over $2.6 Million in Fraudulent Loans.

See also, The Cleveland Plain Dealer - Prosecutor presses mortgage fraud cases in Solon.

For TV coverage from WKYC-TV Channel 3, see Mortgage Fraud - Solon.

Another Multi Million $ Florida Escrow Scandal; $8 Million Missing

It's been a busy last week and a half or so in Florida for escrow agents accused of swiping other people's money that has been entrusted to them in connection with pending real estate transactions.

In the most recent scandal, reported in the St. Petersburg Times, a whistleblower's phone call coming from within Gulf Coast Title Closings and Escrow Services is reported to have triggered an investigation that resulted in yesterday's arrest of Gulf Coast's owners, Cheryl L. Wehlau and John T. Wehlau, who are currently being held by authorities on $5-million bail. They were each charged with 25 felonies - grand theft, money laundering and theft of escrowed funds.

According to an attorney for Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Co., the underwriter that wrote title insurance policies for Gulf Coast and discovered the misappropriations, $7.99-million was stolen from escrow accounts at Gulf Coast, leaving Commonwealth holding the bag, having to cover hundreds of bad checks that started bouncing all over Florida.

Hundreds of people and companies filed claims on bad checks disbursed at Gulf Coast closings, including one couple who sold their home and walked out of a Gulf Coast closing with a rubber check for almost $140,000. After three weeks of experiencing panic and increased high blood pressure when discovering that Gulf Coast had shut down, the couple received full reimbursement from Commonwealth, which reportedly was legally required to cover the Gulf Coast losses.

The funds were allegedly spent entirely on a lavish lifestyle, as a search of the couple's assets hasn't turned up much. For more, see Lavish life over, pair face prison (Title business misspent millions, authorities say).

Go here for other posts on this story.

Go here for stories on other alleged escrow agent mishandling of funds. sneaky slick escrow agents alpha

Texas Man Convicted In Flipping Scam; Gets 25 Years

The Houston Chronicle reports:
  • A Sugar Land man who was convicted in what prosecutors say was a mortgage fraud scam was sentenced to 25 years in prison Thursday. Jurors on Tuesday convicted Fredrick Jordan Batts, 63, of engaging in criminal activity, a first-degree felony. He faced up to life in prison. Prosecutors said he was the head of a scheme involving the sale of 20 homes in Harris County and other Texas counties for more than $5 million over a six-month period in 2005.
Others charged in the scam are:
  • Viet Ba Nguyen and Mohammad Asaduddin (both pleaded guilty and received deferred adjudication),
  • Keith Lionell Wiltz (pleaded guilty, gets 8 years),
  • Cistie Johnnie Dixon, Meheret Mammo Woldie, Doris Chen Wang, and James Harold Evans Jr. (cases are pending).

For more, see Sugar Land man sentenced in mortgage fraud case (no longer available online).

ABC News On "Confession Of A Mortgage Broker"

ABC World News Tonight ran an interview last night that it had with a mortgage broker in which he reveals some of the dirty tricks he was trained to employ when pushing subprime mortgage loans onto the consumer public. For more, watch Confessions of a Mortgage Broker (A former mortgage broke describes the tricks he used to dupe home buyers). (Note: May need IE 7.0 to view).

Another Lawsuit Filed In Florida Treasure Coast Escrow Scandal

TC Palm reports:
  • In the latest court action against former Coastal Escrow Services owner Ira Hatch, a Vero Beach man is accusing Michael Thorpe Real Estate of conspiring with Coastal to defraud their common clients. Jeffrey D. Wilber filed suit Wednesday in Circuit Court against both Thorpe and Coastal, as well as Hatch and Thorpe agent Rick Krulikowski.

  • The new lawsuit follows Thorpe’s suit last week against Coastal, in which the brokerage seeks to represent a class of 175 clients all owed money after Hatch shuttered Coastal.
    But Vero Beach attorney Elizabeth Brooker, representing Wilber, said she is seeking to represent the clients. She said Thorpe can’t honestly represent the real estate clients because the brokerage would have a conflict of interest after steering clients to Coastal.
This mess involves the abrupt closing of Coastal Escrow Services leaving dozens of people in a lurch, and out an estimated $3 million. For more, see Vero Beach man files suit alleging real estate, escrow firms conspired to defraud common clients.

Go here for other posts and links to stories on this ongoing investigation.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Pennsylvania Feds Charge Ex-Real Estate Agent With Lying To Obtain $8M+ In Mortgages

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports:
  • "A former Butler County real estate agent orchestrated a scam involving more than $8 million in faulty bank loans, from which he pocketed more than $1 million, federal prosecutors claim. Scott P. Winovich, 43, of Cranberry, is charged with bank fraud and income tax evasion. He faces 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. [...] Prosecutors said Winovich received about $8.3 million through 18 fraudulent loans from Allegheny Valley Bank, Progressive Home Federal Savings and Loan, Iron and Glass Bank and Northside Bank. Winovich netted $1.3 million for himself from those loans, according to court documents."
For more, see Butler County real estate agent accused of fraud.

For story update, see Mars Businessman Pleads Guilty To Bank Fraud, Tax Evasion (U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan announced that Scott P. Winovich, a resident of Mars, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of Bank Fraud and Tax Evasion.)

Tennessee Couple Falls For Upfront Fee Foreclosure Rescue Service

A story on the NBC Today Show website reports on the story of a Tennessee couple who lost their home to foreclosure and their experience with an upront fee foreclosure rescue operator, Mortgage Assistance Solutions LLC of Clearwater, Florida. According to the story:
  • [The couple] agreed to pay $1,300 to enroll in the company’s Fresh Start program, which promises to help homeowners who have fallen behind on their mortgage payments with "creative" solutions. Mortgage Assistance Solutions said it would take care of everything and told the [couple] not to contact the mortgage company. [The husband] says he got a call from the lender in July warning him that he was about to lose his house. He called Mortgage Assistance Solutions and asked for his money back. The company reduced the fee to $1,000 but would not refund the rest.

For more, see BBB warns of shady foreclosure rescue firms (Companies claim they want to help, but many leave you in worse shape).

For a story of a Massachusetts homeowner in foreclosure who reportedly also lost money paying for a so-called "Fresh Start Program" from Florida, see Woman Falls Victim To 'Mortgage' Program (Resident On Verge Of Losing Home) (WCVB-TV Channel 5 - Boston); or watch the Channel 5 report.

See Ripoff Report for links to other complaints against Mortgage Assistance Solutions.

California Cops Sting Alleged "Real Estate Deposit" Scammer

In Pleasanton, California, the Contra Costa Times reports:
  • "Police are looking for more victims of a scam after a 62-year-old man was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of trying to bilk a real estate broker out of $10,000. According to Pleasanton police, Roger Dungan Buack of Hayward approached broker Dave Cunningham under the guise of being interested in buying a home. [...] Buack told Cunningham that he had a large amount of money in England that he couldn't access without a clearance from the Department of Homeland Security. He said that to meet regulations he would have to pay $10,000, which he wanted to borrow from Cunningham, who would be reimbursed twice that amount once the money arrived. [...] He [Cunningham] grew suspicious and contacted Pleasanton police. Cunningham agreed to complete the transaction at his office, along with police investigators waiting out of sight. Buack gave Cunningham a fake promissory note and a lien on a property he didn't own. Police took Buack into custody as he left the building."

  • "Buack was booked on suspicion of burglary, three counts of making false financial statements and one count of using a fictitious business address."

For more, see Man, 62, arrested in real estate scheme (Pleasanton: Broker grew suspicious after suspect asked him for $10,000 to complete transaction).

See also, Hayward scam suspect arrested (Suspicious real estate agent alerted police).

For story update, see:

Couple accused in scams to face more charges (Pleasanton: Hayward pair are accused of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars) -

  • "Additional grand theft charges have been filed against a Hayward man in connection with what authorities say is a real estate scam. Another real estate agent has come forward as a possible victim of 63-year-old Roger Buack, who is accused of running a "Nigerian scheme" to bilk agents out of hundreds of thousands of dollars."

Hayward couple accept plea deal (Pair accused of bilking real estate agents of more than $150,000) -

  • "Citing a lack of money to make bail, a Hayward married couple accused of bilking Bay Area real estate agents of more than $150,000 accepted plea deals from prosecutors Friday [10-5-07]."

Stolen Lockbox Combinations On Realtor-Listed Property Being Used In San Diego-Area Rent Scams; Used Ads On Craigslist

The San Diego Business Journal reports:
  • "Unidentified suspects have fraudulently obtained the combinations of lockboxes used to access residential properties for sale in the district. The suspects listed the properties for rent on last month, used ill-gotten combinations to access homes, show them to potential renters, accept cash deposits and then disappear, according to Sandicor Inc., the local manager of San Diego County’s multiple listing service."

For more, see Criminals Using Stolen Lockbox Combinations to Run Scams on Renters (Realtor Board Urges Members to Protect PIN Numbers, Codes).

Go here for other posts on tenant victims of rent scams. unwitting tenant rent scam zebra unwitting tenant rent scam zebra

Feds Investigate Baltimore Area Tax Lien Sales

The Baltimore Sun reports:
  • "Federal agents have raided two Baltimore County [Maryland] real estate businesses and seized a wide range of records as part of a criminal investigation into municipal auctions of property tax liens. Search warrants show that the FBI obtained the records to support a probe into possible mail fraud and restraint-of-trade violations. [...] The federal probe raises questions about how the annual tax sales are conducted. In these auctions, investors bid over the Internet for the right to collect back taxes or unpaid municipal fees from delinquent homeowners. The investors can then sue to take the house if the bills, plus interest and fees, aren't paid. [...] In last year's Baltimore tax sale, ... more than 100 companies or individuals bid for about 7,400 tax certificates sold to investors. But just three investment groups won more than two-thirds of the total, city records show. Two of those groups were the targets of simultaneous raids by the FBI on Aug. 9."

For more, see Probe targets tax-lien sales (U.S. agents raid 2 area businesses).

For story update, see Probe of tax sale bids (Federal grand jury subpoenas records on bidding patterns). bidding

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

California Feds Raid 13 Locations In Crisp & Cole Alleged Flipping Operation Investigation

In Bakersfield, California, KBAK-TV Channel 29 (and KBFX Channel 58) reports:
  • "29 Eyewitness News has learned the FBI is raiding homes and businesses of the once prominent real estate duo Crisp & Cole.The FBI began raiding 13 locations about 7 a.m. this morning. Special Agent Steve Dupre works in the FBI office in Sacramento. He says the search warrants were served with the following agencies participating: Bakersfield Police Department, Kern County Sheriff's Department, the Internal Revenue Service, and the California Department of Real Estate. [...] Eyewitness News asked Dupre if 13 is an unusually high number of search warrants to be executed at one time for one investigation and he said yes, often times an investigation requires several warrants, but not usually as many as 13."

  • "Today's raids come as the California Department of Real Estate [in a separate investigation] has a number of serious accusations against the once, high profile Bakersfield real estate team, Crisp & Cole. The DRE says it was an investigation, quote, "several months" in the making. The realtors could have their licenses suspended or even revoked."

The now-defunct Crisp & Cole real estate brokerage was once operated by partners David Crisp and Carl Cole.

Go here to watch today's KBAK-TV news report. To read the KBAK-TV online report, see Crisp & Coles businesses & homes raided by FBI.

To read the KGET-TV Channel 17 report, see FBI raids Crisp home and offices.

Go here for a review of the players and some of the properties involved in the alleged flipping operation.

Go here for other posts and links to stories on the Crisp & Cole alleged flipping operation.

Florida Attorney Gives Up License In Multi Million $ Escrow Scandal

On Florida's Treasure Coast, TC Palm reports:
  • Ira C. Hatch, whose escrow and title businesses are under civil and criminal investigation, agreed Monday to give up his law license for 10 years, the Florida Bar said. “We’ve received the signed disbarment by consent,” said John Stewart, an attorney with Stewart & Evans of Vero Beach, which represents the Bar on the Treasure Coast. “This obviously recognizes how serious the charges are that have been levied against him.” The Bar is investigating charges Hatch misspent $200,000 of client funds on deposit in a Hatch & Doty trust account between July 1 and Aug. 31.
In addition, the story refers to the hot water Hatch is in regarding the escrow company he owns:
  • Hatch shut down Coastal Escrow Services last week, leaving real estate agents, businesses and consumers without their deposits on real estate transactions and property leases. The state attorney general’s office in Indian River County has estimated more than $3 million is not available to customers. Treasure Coast law enforcement officials said Monday it could be months before they file charges in their investigation of Coastal Escrow. On Friday, Vero Beach law officers searched the offices of Coastal Escrow and seized documents and computers.

A local payroll firm has also complained to cops, alleging that Hatch stiffed them with $25,000 of rubber checks, funds from which were intended to pay employees and the taxes and worker compensation payments. For more, see Florida Bar: Hatch voluntarily disbarred.

See also, Hatch gave up license in FL but still able to practice law in NY.

Go here for other posts and links to stories on this ongoing investigation.

Go here for stories on other alleged escrow agent mishandling of funds. sneaky slick escrow agents alpha

CBS, NBC Morning Shows On Upfront Fee Foreclosure Rescue Operators

The CBS Early Show ran a story last week on upfront fee foreclosure rescue operators. In the report, two separate homeowners are interviewed about their experiences with the operators that they paid money to, Financial Protection Industries, and WJW Enterprises. Also interviewed for the story was Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann, who has recently filed lawsuits against six mortgage rescue companies, and reports that his office has gotten complaints about dozens of others. To watch the report, see ConsumerWatch: Foreclosure Scams; or to read the online story, see Homeowners Warned Against Mortgage Rescue Scams.

For the subsequent indictment of WJW Enterprises owner James A. Warsing, see Ohio Feds Indict Foreclosure Rescue Operator.

The NBC Today Show ran a story earlier this week about a North Carolina homeowner who lost her home to foreclosure after paying a fee to Nationwide Mortgage Assistance to help her save her home. Reportedly, after North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper shut down their operation, they moved one-half mile over the state line into South Carolina and have continued doin business. According to an official with the Better Business Bureau, there were only two companies of this type operating in the Charlotte, NC area last year; now there are sixteen. To watch the report, see Mortgage Foreclosure Scams.

For more on Nationwide Mortgage Assistance and Alan Steve Seabolt, see Local Mortgage Firm in Hot Water in North Carolina.

CBN News On Foreclosure Rescue

CBN News ran a television report recently on a Virginia Beach, Virginia homeowner who got caught up in a foreclosure rescue scam and is fighting back to keep his home. Reportedly, the company that took his house was legally forced to give it back -- and only because of a technicality. But because the company failed to make the mortgage payments, he's still fighting to hold onto it. Attorneys Tanya Bullock and Wanda Cooper represent the homeowner.
  • "The main thing is he was not informed of what was happening," Bullock said. "He thought he was re-financing. He ended up doing a full-fledged sale with the option to rent or lease the house back and with no right to cancel."

To watch the report, see Foreclosure Scams - Don't Get Taken; or go here to read the online article.

Go here for information on other foreclosure rescue litigation filed by the law firm Bullock & Cooper.

For more on equity stripping scams, generally,see DREAMS FORECLOSED: The Rampant Theft of Americans' Homes Through Equity-stripping Foreclosure 'Rescue' Scams (4.61 MB approx.).

Southern California Legal Services Firm Establishes Mortgage Fraud Unit

The use of civil lawsuits by private and legal services attorneys representing mortgage fraud victims as a first step to bringing criminal complaints to local district attorney's offices may be taking hold in California. In Southern California, the Daily Bulletin reports:
  • "Attorneys at Inland Counties Legal Services, a nonprofit organization, have been rummaging through the financial paperwork of mortgage fraud victims for the past seven months. The organization opened a mortgage fraud unit in February throughout their six offices in the two-county [San Bernardino and Riverside] area. [...] ICLS attorneys in San Bernardino and Rancho Cucamonga said they are seeing a steady increase in mortgage fraud investigations at their offices."

  • "The District Attorney's office would normally handle these cases. However, there's a limited amount of time and only a handful of real-estate fraud investigators are available to see if investigations are eligible for prosecution, according to Larry Roberts, lead deputy district attorney in the real-estate fraud prosecution unit."

  • "While mortgage fraud investigations are in their infancy, one thing is for sure - ICLS attorneys said they know the rise in referrals is just the beginning of more to come. Some would even say a tidal wave is on the horizon. 'We're going to be seeing a lot of these cases,' said Cass Watters, managing attorney for ICLS in Rancho Cucamonga. 'Hopefully, once we have a demonstrable number of cases, then we can get the DAs involved.' Or in some cases, the FBI, she said."

  • " 'They're not interested in Joe Schmo down the street who frauded one person in a predatory scam,' Watters said of local, state, and federal law enforcement officials. 'They're looking for people who set up businesses and do it.' "
For more, see Fraud from housing boom becoming apparent.

For another story involving a criminal case being filed after a civil lawsuit was brought against a wrongdoer, see California Foreclosure Rescue Operator Faces Felony Charges.

Suing May Be Viable Option For Some Homeowners Facing Foreclosures

An article by The Associated Press appearing in the Naples Daily News provides a list of what financially strapped homeowners can do to try and stave off a foreclosure. Of the number of options a homeowner can consider, one route is to take the offensive and bring a contingent legal fee-based lawsuit. According to the story:
  • A growing number of private lawyers, with help from consumer-rights groups and legal-aid lawyers, are pursuing legal relief for borrowers who got loans they had little chance of repaying and, the lawyers argue, shouldn't have been granted.

  • Taking cases on a contingency-fee basis, these lawyers are giving borrowers the chance not only to stop foreclosure and rescind the loan, but also to seek damages for abuses in some cases. The aim is to prove that lenders granted fraudulent or "unconscionable" loans with terms skewed heavily in their favor, or to fight abuses by servicers such as phony fees that cause homeowners to default.

  • The number of lawyers specializing in this area is still small, and many already have packed caseloads. Melissa Huelsman, a Seattle lawyer who has focused on wrongful-foreclosure litigation since 2001, says her caseload has doubled in the past year to 50 active cases. She is mentoring several local lawyers.

  • Bill Purdy, a Soquel, Calif., lawyer, first looks for violations of federal statutes such as the Truth in Lending Act, a 1968 law that requires disclosure of key terms of the loan and its costs. "There are tons of illegal loans out there, but nobody's looking," Mr. Purdy says. Most cases settle out of court. But courts in states such as West Virginia and California have been most receptive to suits against lenders and servicers, says Margot Saunders of the National Consumer Law Center, which assists attorneys in such suits.

  • A possible downside to suing: in extremely rare instances, borrowers who lose a suit may get saddled with attorneys' fees for the lenders. For a list of attorneys specializing in lender/servicer abuses, check, the Web site of the National Association of Consumer Advocates, or call your local legal-aid office or bar association.

This approach is currently being used by homeowners caught up in foreclosure rescue scams. For the rest of the story, see What people can do if foreclosure looms.

For more on consumers invoking their legal rights to undo predatory transactions that violate the law, check out these posts & links. If you want more, check out these additional posts & links. undo mortgage loans TILA alpha

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Illinois AG Files Civil Suit Against Builders For Stiffing Homebuyers

From the Illinois Attorney General's Office:
  • "Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed suit in Cook County Circuit Court on Friday [August 31] alleging that two Chicago area real estate developers have violated the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act by failing to complete construction on 39 homes and by further failing to refund $250,000 in down payments to the customers – most first-time home buyers with dreams of homeownership. Madigan's lawsuit names two individuals as defendants: John J. Popp, Jr., of Aurora and Christopher Smith of Peotone. The suit also names three corporate defendants: Lord & Essex, Inc., ... in Aurora, and Pembrooke Homes, L.L.C., and Estates at Brookmere, L.L.C., both of which are located ... in Matteson."

  • "Thirty-nine would-be homeowners entered into agreements with Popp and Smith and made down payments to purchase new homes, but the developers have failed to complete the homes or return the down payments."

For more, see Illinois AG Press Release - Madigan Sues Cook County Developers Over Down Payments For New Homes (More than $250,000 in Disputed Down Payment Never Returned).

Lawsuits Arise In Soured Condo Conversions

In Northern Florida, The Jacksonville Times-Union reports:
  • "Several apartment-turned-condo complexes in the Jacksonville area are swimming in lawsuits, with complaints filed against developers, against homeowners and against condo associations. At the core are problems with aging buildings that were gussied up with paint and fancy trimmings, but never truly renovated, according to lawsuits. Most were sold as luxury condominiums at discount prices, in deals that homeowners say seemed too good to be true."

  • "In the madhouse that was the real estate market a few years ago, thousands of apartments in Florida were converted into condominiums, more than 150,000 between 2004 and 2006, according to state records. With low interest rates and high construction costs, so-called conversion projects were quick, easy and profitable for investors: Renovating apartments was cheaper and faster than building from the ground up, and demand was so high that developers couldn't churn them out fast enough."
For more, see Condo Conversions Gone Bad (Hundreds of homeowners on the First Coast have found their apartment-turned-condo units have hidden and costly problems).

Michigan Man Sentenced To 9+ Years In Multi Million $ Mortgage Scam

The Detroit News reports:
  • "A federal judge on Thursday sentenced [Tariq F. Hamad, 37, a married father of four with a college education] to more than nine years in prison and ordered him to pay about $11.9 million in restitution for his role in a massive mortgage fraud. [...] Hamad admitted to preparing fraudulent loan application packages that included false income statements, false appraisals, false title companies and false property photographs, among other fraudulent records."

For more, see Dearborn man sent to prison for mortgage fraud.

Philadelphia "Rocker" Gets 18 Months In Mortgage Scam

The Morning Call reports:
  • "A Philadelphia man whose rock band recently completed an album was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison Wednesday for his role in an Allentown [Pennsylvania] real estate scam that sold overpriced homes to clients with poor credit. Christopher Gallagher, 35, who in February pleaded guilty to three counts of wire fraud and two counts of failure to file income taxes, was also ordered ... to undergo three years of supervised release and to pay $145,000 in restitution. [...] Two other men, Patrick Balf, 53, and Donald Stone, 58, both formerly of Allentown, pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges in connection with the scam. Balf was sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay $2 million in restitution while Stone was sentenced to six months in prison and ordered to pay $820,000 in restitution."

The scam involved pretty standard stuff: inflated purchase prices for homes in rundown neighborhoods, falsified loan documents, selling to homebuyers with bad credit. The sales involved several hundred properties in downtown Allentown.

Reportedly, Gallagher was given three months to turn himself in to prison authorities so that he can fulfill commitments connected to his music career, including the release of a CD scheduled for around Thanksgiving, as well as upcoming performances in Philadelphia and Atlantic City. For more, see 18 months for mortgage fraud (Man allowed to finish music work. Victims say he got little more than a wrist slap).

More Hot Water For Crisp & Cole In Alleged Bakersfield Flipping Operation

KGET-TV Channel 17 in Bakersfield, California reports:

  • "The California Department of Real Estate has filed a formal accusation accusing David Crisp and Carl Cole and their now-defunct realty firm of fraud. The accusation names Crisp, Cole, the Crisp & Cole firm, Tower Lending, and several others with whom they allegedly performed unlawful real estate transactions. The action could result in the revocation of the licenses of the accused. [...] In one instance, the accusation says, Cole falsely claimed he was buying a house in which to live. In fact, the accusation says, he intended to sell it. [In another instance] Crisp told one mortgage company that a woman was an employee of Crisp, Cole and Associates to help her get a loan, the accusation says. She never worked for the company, the claim says."

Crisp, Cole & Associates misled lenders on more than $12 million worth of loans, state regulators said in an accusation filed Monday.

For more, see State accuses Crisp & Cole of fraud.

For a copy of the formal complaint filed by the State of California with the Department of Real Estate, see In the Matter of the Accusation of Crisp Cole & Associates, et al.

For the Bakersfield Californian stories, see Firm's troubles mount (State agency alleges fraud, 'dishonest dealings' in filing) (Reportedly, staffers, family members, business associates and customers owe $48.2 million on defaulted or foreclosed first loans as of Wednesday, according to an ongoing Californian tally) and Crisp, Cole allegations explained (Regulators say case is among largest of its kind in region).

For subsequent KGET-TV stories, see:


In a related story, two homes that were originally bought for around $1 million each and that may have been involved in the alleged flipping operation involving David Crisp and his associates were recently sold at trustee's (foreclosure) sales at big losses to the mortgage lender. The reported estimated loss to the foreclosing lender was $350,000 in one case, and $400,000 in the other. Two more Crisp family-owned homes are scheduled to be sold today. For more, see Some Crisp family properties sold.

Go here to watch the recent KGET-TV Channel 17 report; and here for other posts and links to media reports on the alleged flipping operation involving David Crisp, Carl Cole, family and associates.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Summary of Lawsuits Against Foreclosure Rescue Operator Metropolitan Money Store

(original post - 9-7-07)
Recently, I reported in a post that the lawsuit filed by the Attorney General for the District of Columbia against foreclosure rescue operator Metropolitan Money Store and friends was the second lawsuit filed against them. I have since learned that there are currently four lawsuits (or probably what I should say, is that there are four lawsuits that I know of) against them. In addition to the DC Attorney General's suit and the suit filed in a Maryland Federal Court as a class action, two additional cases are currently being litigated (again, at least two that I know of):


Brown and 32 others vs. Fordham, Jackson, Metropolitan Money Store, and 46 others

In this case, a group of 33 Maryland homeowners who did business with Metropolitan Money Store filed suit against it and 48 other parties (including Joy Jackson, Kurt Fordham and a number of straw buyers, loan originators, appraisers, settlement / title insurance agents, title insurance underwriters, and mortgage lenders) on May 30, 2007 in a state court in Prince George's County, Maryland. The plaintiffs have since obtained an injuncton to stop the scheduled foreclosure sales for the 33 plaintiffs' homes; and an Amended Complaint (amending the initial filing) was filed on August 22.

Representing the 33 homeowners in this case is attorney Stan Brown of Largo, Maryland. For a copy of the amended lawsuit, see Brown, et al. vs. Fordham, Jackson, Metropolitan Money Store, et al.
Winston vs. Daniels, Fordham & Fordham, Metropolitan Money Store et al.

In this case, a District of Columbia homeowner who did business with Metropolitan Money Store filed an 18 count complaint against it and 8 other parties on August 22, 2007 in the District of Columbia Superior Court. Among the counts are alleged violations of:
  • (1) DC consumer protection statutes, (2) DC statutes prohibiting the charging of interest above a certain interest rate (ie. usury, failure to obtain license), (3) Federal racketeering ("RICO") and racketeering conspiracy statutes, (4) Federal consumer lending statutes & regulations (ie. Truth In Lending Act, Home Ownership & Equity Protection Act, Regulation Z), and (5) Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act ("RESPA").

The lawsuit also makes claims of, or requests for:

  • (1) equitable mortgage, (2) fraud, (3) conversion, (4) breach of fiduciary duty, (5) slander of title, (6) unjust enrichment, (7) breach of contract, (8) gross negligence, (9) respondeat superior, (10) declaratory judgment, and (11) quiet title.

Representing the DC homeowner in this case are co-counsels Stan Brown of Largo, Maryland, and Dawn Jackson, with Baylor & Jackson, PLLC, of Washington, D.C.

For a copy of the lawsuit, see Winston vs. Daniels, Fordham & Fordham, Metropolitan Money Store et al.


Go here for blog posts on, and links to, the other two Metropolitan Money Store cases (that I know of).

For more on equity stripping scams, generally, see DREAMS FORECLOSED: The Rampant Theft of Americans' Homes Through Equity-stripping Foreclosure 'Rescue' Scams (4.61 MB approx.). equitable mortgage yak

Virginia Declares 90 Day Halt To Metropolitan Grapevine's Investor Solicitations

(original post - 9-7-07)
The Washington Post reports:
  • "The state of Virginia has joined Maryland in blocking Metro Dream Homes from offering homeowners mortgage-free living through a complex investment program, citing concerns about potential consumer "harm and economic loss." The Virginia State Corporation Commission late Wednesday issued a temporary injunction to stop the company from soliciting investors for 90 days, pending a Sept. 18 hearing. The order follows a similar action by the Maryland Attorney General's office on Aug. 15. In that case, the company is scheduled to file an answer to the allegations by Monday. [...] Metro Dream Home operates under a number of names, including POS Dream Homes, Metropolitan Grapevine and Metro Dream Homes of Fredericksburg; it lists business addresses in Maryland, Virginia and the District."

(An important point to highlight here is, just as in the Maryland action, the Virginia action is merely a temporary halt in the company's investor solicitation activities pending a court hearing. As of yet, there has been no formal findings of wrongdoing in either the Virginia or Maryland matter.)

For more, see Va. Joins Md. in Halting Mortgage Firm's Program.

Company officer Andrew Williams prepared a videotaped response back in August defending the firm after The Washington Post first published stories on this matter. To view Mr. Williams' response, see (no longer available online):

  • High Bandwidth - go here.
  • Low Bandwidth - go here.
  • Dial-Up - go here.
  • Radio - go here.

For recent articles on Metro Dream Homes, see:

Long Island DA Convicts Foreclosure Rescue Operator In Equity Stripping Scheme

The North Country Gazette reports:
  • "A Queens man who attempted to steal the homes of two victims by engaging in an elaborate real estate foreclosure rescue scam, has been convicted following trial.
    Alton Lawson, also known as Lamont Lawson, 45, ... has been found guilty of second and third degree grand larceny and first degree scheme to defraud. He will be sentenced on Oct. 23."

  • "According to prosecutors, Lawson and two co-defendants, Chester W. Matthews 56 of ... Richmond Hill and Reginald Johnson, 32, of ... Brookhaven, worked in concert to defraud a 45 year old woman from Roosevelt and a 80-year-old female Hempstead resident, who were both homeowners that were having financial difficulties. Each victim received unsolicited visits from Lawson who told them he could help them save their houses by refinancing. The Nassau County district attorney’s office said that 'through deceit and misrepresentation, Lawson tricked the victims into selling their houses to Matthews for $295,000 and $320,000.' "
Matthews served as a "straw buyer" for Lawson in the two transactions and was paid a total of $37,500 for his part as a dummy buyer; Johnson acted as the mortgage broker on one deal, was paid $10,715 for his services, and reportedly provided a fraudulent mortgage application that was submitted to a mortgage lender.

In one deal, the financially strapped homeowner received nothing for her equity, while Lawson pocketed mortgage proceeds totaling $46,383.54. In the other deal, the homeowner received only $150,555.10 of the mortgage proceeds for her equity, while Lawson pocketed the balance of $110,500.

Ultimately, Lawson, in the name of straw buyer Matthews, had begun eviction proceedings to evict each homeowner.

Sentencing for Lawson, the only one of the three to go to trial, is scheduled for Oct. 23. As of late Friday afternoon, the status of the charges against Matthews and Johnson could not be determined. For more, see Queens Man Convicted In Foreclosure Scam.

For the original release announcing the arrest of the three participants, see Nassau County DA Press Release (11-1-05).

For more on equity stripping scams, generally, see DREAMS FORECLOSED: The Rampant Theft of Americans' Homes Through Equity-stripping Foreclosure 'Rescue' Scams (4.61 MB approx.).

Straw Buyer Suing South Florida Foreclosure Rescue Operator

Lawsuits against foreclosure rescue operators typically take the form of civil lawsuits pitting the financially strapped homeowner who signed away a home with the operator, or criminal charges where the government alleges the commission of a crime by the operator (see Foreclosure Rescue - For Criminal Prosecutors Only).

A recent article in the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports on the story of an investor, who apparently participated as a straw buyer in a foreclosure rescue "opportunity," who is suing the operator who put the rescue deal together. Straw buyer Matthew W. Anderson has sued well-known South Florida foreclosure rescue operator Jack Moussa, along with companies he controls, Equity Investment Capital Management, and Florida Housing Council, on Aug. 23 in a state court in Broward County, Florida.

Also named in the suit is Star Enterprises and its owner Rose Moussa (Jack Moussa's ex-wife), Jerome Weinstein, and the financially strapped homeowners who had sought help from Moussa and Florida Housing Council in the first place. According to the story:

  • "The latest suit alleges that Weinstein and the Moussas conspired to defraud Anderson as they solicited him to put more than $80,000 into real estate investments. Anderson, who's seeking unspecified damages in the civil lawsuit, claimed the investments did not yield any profits."

Moussa and Florida Housing Council have been sued by South Florida homeowners in recent years, alleging fraud and deceptive practices. They have been accused of creating the impression that Florida Housing Council is a federally funded agency that helps homeowners in financial distress.

For more, see Delray Beach investor sues Broward foreclosure rescue firm (Investor's lawsuit follows actions by homeowners).

Go here for other posts on the foreclosure rescue activities of Jack Moussa and Florida Housing Council.

For links to stories involving criminal prosecutions of foreclosure rescue operators, see Foreclosure Rescue - Criminal Prosecutions.

For more on equity stripping scams, generally, see DREAMS FORECLOSED: The Rampant Theft of Americans' Homes Through Equity-stripping Foreclosure 'Rescue' Scams (4.61 MB approx.).

Failing To Report Bogus Transaction Is Criminal, Says Prosecutor

According to a recent article in The Modesto Bee, Stanislaus County, California real estate fraud prosecutor Marlisa Ferreira emphasized recently in a talk to a group of real estate professionals that everyone involved in scam transaction can be held criminally liable. Whether its predatory lending practices that rip off naive buyers to bogus loan applications that dupe lenders, she urges real estate professionals who witness such fraud to blow the whistle on their colleagues.
  • "Letting a suspicious transaction proceed is not just unethical, it's illegal, the deputy district attorney explained: 'If you know the deal is hinky and you do it anyway, you're aiding and abetting a crime.' "

The article lists nine red flags for real estate agents, mortgage brokers, and escrow agents to watch out for that could signal a bogus real estate transaction.

The bottom line here appears to be: if you see something going down in a real estate deal that isn't kosher and "do nothing", you may find yourself being admitted into one of our fine state correctional facilities (ie. prison) where you may find yourself wearing those bright orange prison overalls and picking up garbage on the side of the road. For more, see Realty agents tipped to scams, liability (Prosecutor cautions pros with the red flags of fraud).

Editorial Note

"Doing nothing" in a situation like this can apparently also qualify you for admission into a fine Federal corrections facility as well. See, for example, Mississippi Man Gets 2 Year Prison Term For "Doing Nothing" In Mortgage Fraud Scam, where a man pleaded guilty to failing to alert authorities to a scheme he knew others were involved in.

See also, California Foreclosure Rescue Operator Gets Five Years In Federal Prison, where two straw buyers got into hot water for failing to report to authorities criminal conduct by another in a foreclosure rescue scam that they all had some participation in.

The Federal crime of "doing nothing" in this context is formally known in the statute as Misprision of felony, can be found at Title 18, Section 4 of the U.S. Code, and apparently applies only to failure to report illegal conduct that constitutes a felony (as opposed to a misdemeanor).

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Facing Ethics Charges

In another reminder that the "robed arbiters" who operate out of our hallowed halls of justice, sitting on their perches far above everyone else, are just as equal as the rest of us (maybe even less so) and can be just as good at doing stupid things as anyone, the Wisconsin State Journal reports:

  • "Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Annette Ziegler committed misconduct by presiding over cases in which she had a conflict of interest, the Wisconsin Judicial Commission said in a complaint filed Thursday. But the commission, along with a contrite Ziegler, said the state's newest justice should receive no more than a public reprimand from her colleagues on the Supreme Court."
For the rest of the story, see Commission faults Ziegler, asks for only reprimand.

For story updates, see:

Go here for other stories on questionable conduct by members of the judiciary. naughty judges

California Vacant Foreclosure Goes Up In Flames

The Modesto Bee reports:
  • "A suspicious fire Friday afternoon destroyed a vacant two-story house east of Turlock that neighbors said was the site of a methamphetamine laboratory bust a year ago. [...] Bill Rossi, 60, lives nearby and owns the almond orchards that surround the destroyed house. He said the house had been vacant since authorities raided it and found a meth lab operation in an upstairs room. Rossi said the home continued to serve as a hangout for drug users and transients who would break in. [...] He said the home had gone through several owners before it was placed in foreclosure."
Witnesses reported seeing two men leaving the property on bicycles shortly after the fire started. Arson has not been ruled out. For more, see Fire destroys Turlock home, site of meth lab.

Go here for some methamphetamine information resources.

Go here and go here for other posts on home based meth labs. meth lab zeta zebra

California Cat House In Foreclosure Smelled Like Gigantic Kitty Litter, Say Neighbors

Channel 10 News in Sacramento, California reports on the story on a home in foreclosure in Orangevale in which over a dozen cats were rescued and the bodies of at least four deceased cats were also found. According to the neighbors living next door:
  • "Within the last three months it's been horrific. [...] Anytime the wind blew it would just blow this horrible, horrible, gigantic kitty litter smell. It was just disgusting. It was really that bad of a smell. It would just make your eyes water."

The owner, who left the home three months ago after living there for sixteen years, had been the founder and head of an animal rescue and adoption organization called Cats About Town Society. For more, see Cat Rescuer May Face Animal Abuse Charges.

Go here for Channel 10 TV report.

Go here for more on pets and foreclosures.

California Cities Ponder Plans To Tackle Foreclosure Neglect

The Modesto Bee reports on the struggle facing city officials with the problem of dealing with neglected, vacant homes that are either in foreclosure, or that have already been foreclosed and are now owned by the mortgage lender.
  • "The Northern San Joaquin Valley is ground zero in the foreclosure crisis: San Joaquin County ranks first in the nation, followed by Merced County in second place and Stanislaus County in fourth. The homes are left vacant by the bank. Their lawns go yellow. Their swimming pools turn dark. And sometimes, vagrants move in. The homes sometimes become not only a blight and drain on home values, but also a danger."
For more, see Forgotten homes: Cities ponder what to do with properties in foreclosure (Leaders considering ordinances to tackle neglect after foreclosure).

More On Alleged $50M Minnesota Straw Buyer Mortgage Fraud; Claims At Least Two More Equity Skimming Victims

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports:

  • "Carrie and Corey Karau thought they were buying their dream house 20 months ago when they and their five children moved to a bucolic neighborhood in New Market, Minn. But $30,000 in payments later, the couple discovered the house they thought they owned under a "contract for deed" from home builder Parish Marketing and Development Corp. of Eagan had been sold to someone else and was in foreclosure. The house they planned to live in for the rest of their lives was about to be repossessed. "How do you explain something like this to your kids?" asked Carrie Karau. "That's the hardest part." The Karaus are among dozens of people in the Twin Cities' southern suburbs caught in what state regulators believe is the largest case of mortgage fraud in Minnesota history."

  • "The government said the alleged mortgage fraud involves nearly 200 properties, $100 million in mortgage proceeds and as much as $50 million in losses. Some straw buyers bought more than 50 properties, according to court records."
Reportedly, sources close to the investigation say that, in addition to Parish Marketing, more than a dozen real estate professionals who allegedly inflated property values and falsified documents are part of the investigation.

For more, see Mortgage fraud infiltrates suburbs (Hundreds of fraudulent transactions -- and shattered lives -- have been exposed) (Story also available here on

Go here for other posts on this ongoing investigation.

Go here for other posts on "rent to own" scams. rent to own lease purchase option scams zebra unwittingly beta

Novice Real Estate "Tycoon" Duped Into Being Straw Buyer In Flipping Operation; Now Has Ten Homes In Foreclosure

The St. Petersburg Times reports:
  • "Jill Jackson, a single mom and apartment renter with an annual take-home pay of about $24,000, managed to go on an incredible real estate buying binge last year. In the span of 10 weeks, she bought 10 properties. She did not put a single penny down, borrowing the price for all 10 by signing for mortgage loans totaling $1.84-million. The investment plan seemed too good to be true. And it was."
The "investment plan" that enabled her to amass her portfolio (now all in foreclosure) in such a short time was presented to her by Investors Outlet, a Tampa company run by William Ondra Joel II, 27, a former $8-an-hour worker at a Tampa mental health center who got into real estate after seven arrests on drug charges. For more, see Home buying spree snaps (A year after a woman bought 10 overpriced properties, she's not the only one hurting).

Elderly California Man Falls For Sweepstakes Scam; Borrowed Against Home To Make Payments, Now Facing Foreclosure

The Sacramento Bee reports on the story of a 74 year old man who got sucked into a sweepstakes scam that used a series of official-looking letters that convinced him he had won $450,000, but left him out $125,000, behind on his mortgage payments, and facing foreclosure. According to the story:
  • "The [initial letter's] letterhead read "American Federal Direct Consumer Protection Agency" and bore an official-looking seal. [...] Over the months, [he] received dozens more faxed letters, some that purported to be from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Internal Revenue Service, the Sacramento County grand jury and Sacramento Mayor Heather Fargo. The faxes had letterheads that appeared to be copied from government Web sites. They instructed [him] to pay various fees and taxes, generally in amounts of $2,000 or $3,000, before he could receive his lottery winnings. [...] By the time Williams realized last week that it was all a scam, the 74-year-old great-grandfather said he had sent about 40 wire transfers totaling $125,000 to Costa Rica and other locations. He borrowed the money using his Florin-area home as collateral and took cash advances on his credit cards."

For more, see Sweepstakes scam fleeces Florin-area man (The 74-year-old paid about $125,000 and took out a home loan).

Go here , go here , and go here for other posts on elder financial abuse. yak

Ohio AG Gets Indictment Of Man In Alleged Refinancing / Deed Theft Scam

From the Ohio Attorney General's office:
  • "Attorney General Marc Dann and the Franklin County Prosecutor’s office have secured the indictment of Christian Lambright for defrauding an 81 year old Columbus resident. Lambright’s indictment by the Franklin County Grand Jury on felony counts of Theft, Securing Writings by Deception, and Money Laundering follows a three week investigation by the Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission mortgage fraud task force."

  • "The victim in this case and her family had discussed refinancing her home with Lambright, who said he was a loan officer for a local mortgage broker. Instead of preparing refinancing paperwork, it is alleged that Lambright concocted a scheme to have the property transferred into the name of his own mother. It is also alleged that Lambright stole money from the closing proceeds."

  • "Investigators say Lambright picked the victim up at her home in late June without her family’s knowledge. Authorities say he then took the woman, who had recently been released from the hospital, was on medication, and could not walk without a walker, to a local fast-food restaurant where he arranged for the paperwork to be signed."

For more , see Ohio AG Press Release - Attorney General Marc Dann’s Organized Crime Investigations Commission busts Columbus man for mortgage fraud (Man preyed on elderly victim soon after hospital visit).

For grand jury charges, see Indictment - State of Ohio vs. Lambright.

See also, Local man indicted for mortgage fraud (Business First of Columbus).

Go here , go here , and go here for other posts on elder financial abuse.

Go here, Go here, go here, go here, and go here for other posts related to deed or refinancing scams by forgery, swindle, etc. deed theft zorro yak elder financial abuse alpha

Florida Cops Arrest Real Estate Broker For Swindling House Title From Owners

TC Palm reports:
  • "Larry Eugene Smith claimed he could help solve the problems of a couple who wanted to sell their Port St. Lucie [Florida] home. Instead, he allegedly swindled [the couple] out of their house ..., claiming he bought the property for $10."

  • "St. Lucie County sheriff's deputies arrested Smith, 53, Tuesday at the home he moved into with his girlfriend after he persuaded the [couple] to sign a purchase agreement for their home and power of attorney and warranty deed over to him in order for him to sell the house. Smith was charged with first-degree grand theft and taken to the St. Lucie County Jail, where he remained Friday evening."

  • "According to a sheriff's report, Smith convinced the couple to move out of the home, telling them "it was better to show the house when it was staged" and he would take photos of it and market it, ..."

After the owners moved out, Smith moved in.

For more, see Letters from All Florida Mortgage Centers may be a scam, St. Lucie deputies report.

Fighting Florida Grandmother Sues Shoddy Roofer; Collects $3K Refund

The Pensacola News Journal reports on the story of Leenora Nix, an 84 years old Florida woman who got ripped off by a local roofer for a crappy roofing job on her home. After first going to a lawyer, then complaining to state consumer protection agencies, and not getting any satisfaction, she sued the roofer herself, and obtained a money judgment against him. Last month, she was notified that the local Clerk of Court had received $3,053 in payment for her lawsuit. For more, see Hell hath no fury like a grandmother with a shoddy roof job.