Did a realtor conspire with a number of businesses across the nation to cheat home buyers out of sizable down payments and the homes they thought they were buying?
That's the allegations leveled against a real estate agent living in Florida by at least eight victims. The victims mostly speak Spanish and were inexperienced as home buyers.
They each gave him large cash deposits on houses that he was supposedly selling to them. One man paid $30,000 down and moved into a $238,000 property before finding out he was the victim of scam. Another paid the realtor $45,000 down on a house for which he never produced either keys or a deed -- and he had the wiles to get another $10,000 from her for what he promised was a much better house. She, too, moved into the property only to find out that she was occupying it illegally. In total, he scammed over $751,000 from his victims.
The realtor has already accepted a guilty plea to felony wire fraud and may still face tax evasion charges. The wire fraud charge carries a potential 10-year sentence.
The lawsuit doesn't just target the rogue realtor, however -- those companies doing business with him are also a focus of the lawsuit. Several realty groups and title insurance companies are named as his co-conspirators -- which gives his victims hope that they might be able to collect some of their losses.
The co-defendant companies are accused of helping the realtor get away with his deceptive practices by essentially failing to oversee him or stop him from acting improperly -- something that they either should have been aware he was doing or were aware he was doing but chose to ignore. Several of the companies helped the realtor communicate with buyers in different states and arranged for them to sign invalid sales agreements while the realtor told the buyers he was authorized to sell foreclosed properties.
Cases like this illustrate how easily a company can get caught up in a clever con artist's scheme. A lack of oversight in businesses where a lot of associates work independently can result in major losses down the line for the companies involved. If you've become aware that an associate of yours is acting illegally or fraudulently, contact an attorney for advice immediately.
Source: Standard Speaker, "Real estate victims file lawsuit against Beato," James Halpin, May 13, 2017