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Recent case shows difficulty with spotting real estate scheme

real-estate-fraud-frese-hansen.jpgIf you're like a lot of our Melbourne readers, then you have probably been meticulous about your savings so that when you retire, you can afford that beautiful retirement home you've always wanted. Maybe it's right on the ocean or perhaps in a well-to-do neighborhood that caters to your love of peace and quiet. Whatever your intended lifestyle, it's very likely that your move will come with a price tag that you have been equally meticulous about picking.

But as you probably know, even the most carefully laid plans can be ruined if fraud gets thrown into the mix. If you're like a lot of our readers, you probably aren't too concerned about getting caught up in a real estate scheme. After all, you're pretty sure you could recognize the warning signs and avoid a potentially litigious situation. But as a recent case out of Fort Lauderdale is showing, sometimes it's more difficult to spot potential fraud than you may think.

Some of our Melbourne readers may have already heard about the case in which a 44-year-old Florida real estate broker pleaded guilty to criminal charges for taking an estimated $5.5 million from Florida residents looking for properties in Palm Beach, Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

According to reports, because he was a smooth-talking man, his victims trusted him to abide by the law and help them buy the properties they wanted. Instead, he was accused of using buyers' good-faith money to pay off other expenses instead of putting the money into escrow as the law dictates. He was also accused of falsifying information on a personal real estate transaction, which is considered real estate fraud.

Although he was sentenced to three years and five months in prison and also required to pay back more than $4 million in restitution to victims of the scheme, some of the victims do not believe this was fair enough punishment, especially considering the damage he caused them, such as losing properties they wanted to buy and significantly damaging their credit standing. As you can imagine, a scheme such as this could wreak havoc on a victim's finances, which should be a real concern for elderly Melbourne readers who are likely to suffer the most from a scheme like this.

Source: The Sun Sentinel, "Ritzy real estate broker gets prison for $5.5 million fraud," Paula McMahon, Jan. 20, 2015

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