A viewer’s comment on YouTube led me to this terrific inside view of the 2008 financial crisis, and the resulting impact on the world. It rightly blames the entire fiasco on the Tan Man, who pitched his mortgages to Wall Street based on the yields generated if borrowers made their full-interest payments, when in reality, only a much smaller minimum monthly payment was all that was due.
It’s eerie to watch today as our financial markets are in question again:
I make a quick comment in at the 2:38-minute mark, standing in front of the most-expensive REO listing we received in the era – a 2,900sf house in downtown Carlsbad that sold for $603,000 in December, 2009. It’s still owned by those buyers! The realtor.com estimate today is $973,900.
Barbara Corcoran said she lost nearly $400,000 after her financial team responded to an email that turned out to be a phishing scam.
“This morning I wired $388,000 into a false bank account in Asia,” Corcoran told ABC News.
Last week, the millionaire’s bookkeeper Christine received an email that appeared to be a routine message from Corcoran’s assistant Emily to approve a payment to a German company called FFH Concept. However, the email in question was never sent from Corcoran’s assistant, instead, it was sent from a con artist.
The bookkeeper at first questioned the payment and asked in her reply, “What is this? Need to know what account to pay out of.”
“Someone sends you a bill. It’s paid,” Corcoran said. “And this one instance, it was not a good strategy.”
The crook responded to the bookkeeper with a detailed explanation and as Corcoran said, $388,700.11 was then transferred.
After the fact, Corcoran’s team noticed a missing “O” in the “from” address
“When she showed me the emails that went back and forth with the false address, I realized immediately it’s something I would have fallen for if I had seen the emails,” Corcoran said.
The savvy “Shark Tank” star fell prey to an all too common phishing scam, which is something her fellow shark Robert Herjavec, who made his millions running a tech company, knows all too well.
“85% of all cybercrime across the world comes through email, which is what happened to Barbara,” Herjavec said. “This is very, very common. It’s been happening of businesses for two, three years now. It’s now happening to individuals.”
Herjavec said there are a couple quick best practices people can implement to ensure they don’t fall for this kind of deception.
“Always verify that the email is coming from somebody you trust. Get that person to call you,” he suggested. “Number two, check your bank statements every single day, because if you catch it within 48 hours, the bank can get it back for you.”
Unfortunately, the money in Corcoran’s case is already gone, but her team traced the original scam emails back to a Chinese IP address and her attorneys are reportedly figuring out next steps.
These are the crimes and attitude required to actually go to jail for real estate fraud:
A former Fannie Mae employee will spend more than the next six years in prison after being found guilty of accepting more than a million dollars in bribes and kickbacks in exchange for selling Fannie Mae-owned foreclosures for less than market value.
Back in January 2018, Shirene Hernandez was charged with accepting bribes for steering foreclosures to certain brokers and even allegedly buying some foreclosures herself at below market value. And nearly a year ago, Hernandez was found guilty of two wire fraud counts that involved the deprivation of honest services as a result of the scheme.
Hernandez formerly worked at Fannie Mae in California as an REO foreclosure specialist and was tasked with the sale of properties foreclosed on by Fannie Mae.
As a sales representative, a position she held from 2010 through 2015, Hernandez would assign Fannie Mae-owned properties to certain real estate brokers and approve sales of the properties based on offers the brokers submitted.
But, court documents showed that Hernandez demanded and received bribes – mostly in the form of cash – in exchange for brokers getting the listings and commissions those brokers earned on real estate sales in question.
Hernandez also approved sales of Fannie Mae REOs at discounted prices to both herself and to brokers who paid her kickbacks.
As part of the scheme, Hernandez also received bribes for approving below-market sale prices of Fannie Mae properties to the brokers, all of which were violations of Fannie Mae rules and federal law.
Hernandez also helped several family members become Fannie Mae-approved brokers, and then steered nearly $80 million in Fannie Mae listings to them, resulting in nearly $2 million in commissions in less than three years.
According to court documents, Hernandez received more than $1 million in benefits from the scheme, including cash kickbacks and equity in a Fannie Mae property she bought using said kickbacks.
And, according to court documents, Hernandez paid for that property using a duffle bag filled with $286,450 in cash, which she gave to her sister-in-law to bring to the closing.
“The crime that [Hernandez] committed was egregious,” the prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memorandum. “Rather than act in the public’s best interests…she used her position to line her own pockets. [She] is unremorseful and unrepentant, and would seemingly do it all again if she could avoid being caught.”
In addition to the 76-month prison sentence, Hernandez was also ordered her to pay $982,516 in restitution to Fannie Mae.
If you break into an empty house, move in your family and your belongings and call it home, can you ever stake a legal claim to the property?
The answer is yes. But it’s a difficult process, and it rarely ends successfully.
“Sometimes I’m just overwhelmed with a sense of appreciation for the privilege of having a house,” said Steven DeCaprio, who moved into a vacant and dilapidated Oakland house in 2008, sued to be declared the home’s rightful owner — and won.
DeCaprio took advantage of “adverse possession” or “squatters rights” laws, which have a long history in California. Squatters can sue for legal possession after living in and taking care of an abandoned house for five years — as long as they meet certain strict conditions.
The California law allows a squatter to claim possession of a house after establishing his or her residency — by having mail and bills sent to the house, openly coming and going through the front door and paying the property taxes — for at least five years, said attorney Dan Siegel. If the owner catches wind and objects, the squatter could be arrested for trespassing or evicted in civil court, depending on the common practice in that jurisdiction, Siegel said.
An elaborate short-term rental scheme in Carlsbad tricked a young renter and property owner into losing thousands, according to the victims.
The victims, property owner Nick Foster and renter Courtney Hulla, told NBC 7 the scammer used both Airbnb and Craigslist to carry out the scheme.
On Saturday, Hulla found a Carlsbad condo available to rent on Craigslist, or so she thought.
“$650 deposit, $650 rent. We were like it’s a nice area. That seems too good to be true,” said Hulla.
She contacted a man named David, who told her he was the owner of a rental near the Carlsbad Village. He even invited her to the condo, Hulla told NBC 7.
NBC 7 is not publishing the alleged scammer’s last name because he has not been charged with any crime at this point in time.
“Walked up to the place and checked it out. He was doing laundry at the time,” said Hulla. “He said ‘Check out the place,’ you know, ‘You can walk around. I’m packing stuff up and leaving for Chicago on Thursday. This person bailed. Let me know if you like it. We can start moving forward.’
Hulla met David in person twice and said the man shared details about his life, his work and even signed a lease agreement with her.
She paid him one month’s rent and a deposit, as agreed, totaling $1,300. He gave her a set of keys.
“There’s no way this guy’s trying to do anything, scam me. He’s being too real about it,” said Hulla.
Hulla still felt uneasy, so she went to test out the keys at the condo. She noticed a light on inside and texted David, the so-called owner.
“‘I think that there are people, there are people in there. Can you explain that?’ He was like, ‘Oh they’re my aunt and uncle, just don’t scare them,’” Hulla said.
Turns out that the couple had rented the place through Airbnb from the real condo owner, Nick Foster, a Carlsbad resident.
“He made the condo his own. He acted like he owned it to sell his con to someone,” Foster said.
Foster told NBC 7, David, who had rented the condo through Airbnb before, also stole two portable AC units and other belongings over his two-week stay.
Both Hulla and Foster have reported the incident to the police. Foster has also contacted Airbnb.
“You have a conman on your platform and that he’s clearly done this before and he’s gonna do it again,” said Foster.
Neither has heard from David again.
Hulla was not able to cancel the payments she had made through the Facebook app and PayPal.
The most susceptible to home thievery are those properties that are paid off, and all you need is a crooked notary. This was more of a vengeful act by an ex-boyfriend that could be unwound a little easier because it had a mortgage and harder to re-sell. Hat tip to SM for sending!
Rohina Husseini had no idea someone could steal a house, but the first small clue that the home she owned for nearly a decade was no longer hers was a piece of junk mail that most of us ignore.
The Springfield, Virginia, mother said she initially tossed the mortgage refinancing offers that began arriving over the summer in the trash, but one detail bugged her: The letters were addressed to another woman. Curious, Husseini said she finally opened one.
“You bought a new house, congratulations,” read the letter addressed to Masooda Persia Hashimi.
“I was like, ‘Wow, this doesn’t seem right,’ ” Husseini said. “I don’t know this person at all. She never lived in my house even before [I moved in].”
In the frantic hours that followed, Husseini discovered the total stranger was now the legal owner of the brick Colonial worth about $525,000 that forms the center of her life with her husband and daughter.
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced it has filed charges and obtained a consented-to asset freeze against San Diego-based ANI Development LLC, its principal, Gina Champion-Cain, and a relief defendant, for operating a multi-year $300 million scheme that defrauded approximately 50 retail investors.
According to the SEC’s complaint, beginning in 2012, defendants fraudulently raised hundreds of millions of dollars from investors by claiming to offer investors an opportunity to make short-term, high-interest loans to parties seeking to acquire California alcohol licenses. In truth, the SEC alleges, the investment opportunity was a sham. Contrary to defendants’ representations, the SEC asserts, defendants did not use investor funds to make loans to alcohol license applicants. Instead, Cain directed significant amounts of investor funds to a relief defendant that she controlled.
“The SEC took emergency action to stop what we allege is an egregious fraud,” said Los Angeles Regional Director Michele Wein Layne. “Importantly, the agreement we reached with the defendants to freeze their assets during the litigation will give investors the best chance to maximize their recovery going forward.”
The SEC’s complaint, filed in federal district court in San Diego on August 28, 2019, charges defendants with violating the antifraud provisions of Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, and Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933. Without admitting any violations of federal law, defendants have agreed to preliminary injunctions against violations of these provisions of the federal securities laws, asset freezes, and the appointment of a receiver over ANI and the relief defendant to marshal and preserve assets. The stipulated order is subject to court approval. The complaint seeks disgorgement of allegedly ill-gotten gains and prejudgment interest, monetary penalties, and permanent injunctions.
Buyer-agents are heralding this as the Big Turning Point is real estate because the lawsuit aims to ‘break up the cartel’ and unbundle real estate commissions.
There is a whole legion of agents that offer a fee-for-service menu who think they are doing the consumer a favor. But it is a great dis-service to tempt consumers to select their agent based on their fee. This is where NAR and others have failed us miserably because nobody talks about how important it is for consumers to identify the skill level of agents they are considering.
Agents offer a discounted commission/rebate/fee-for-service because they don’t have the skill level to earn a higher fee. In effect, they ‘buy the business’ with lower cost/less service, and the consumer gets what they pay for.
But if this lawsuit prevails, causing MLS companies to be run out of business and ‘broker cooperation’ to get dismantled (seller paying the buyer-agent fee), the buyer agents will be the first casualty.
On this blog we talk about street-level impact.
Here’s an example that happened to Kayla in Manhattan, where the rental market is so hot that tenants have to pay their broker directly – and the typical fee is two months of rent.
Kayla is showing rentals to her old college roommate plus one other woman. The listing agent is present, and when Kayla goes into a bedroom with one of the women, the listing broker pulls the other aside and says, ‘if you don’t want to pay Kayla’s fee, just go through me directly’.
The two women rented the apartment directly through the listing agent, and burned Kayla.
We’re sliding into single agency, where buyers/tenants will just go directly to the listing agent. They will never know if they saved any money, they won’t know if they got proper representation (unlikely), and they will just take what they get.
The reason disintermediation worked in the travel business because consumers don’t worry about a bad vacation costing them an additional five- or six-figures in resale costs (and major disruption of life) to unwind one.
Without constant reminders of how important it is to Get Good Help, buyers will be left to their own devices and just go directly to the guy who has the product – the listing agent.
Single agency is not what’s best for consumers or agents – yet the market forces are heading in that direction without recognizing the ramifications. Watch what you wish for!
Obviously, my rantings on this topic have done nothing to slow down the trend, so joining Compass was the best way to position myself for my clients.
This scam is very real – confirm with escrow company before wiring funds.
A local family lost their entire life savings to scammers while they were in the process of buying a home after they unknowingly wired their money to a fraudulent escrow account.
Andrew Batson and Erika Urry were close to finally living in their dream home. The just needed to send their down payment. When Andrew received an email from the escrow company asking for a wire, he obliged.
“I did so that day thinking I was under pressure and we were supposed to close in that week,” said Andrew.
However, the next week, Andrew received a call from their real estate agent asking for the money because it was missing and was needed so they could close. It was at that moment when Andrew and Erika realized they had been scammed.
“I had to call Erika to let her know all the money was gone,” said Andrew.
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