HOA, condo, co-op fraud, theft, and corruption roundup (Oct. 2017)

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities

This month, HOA thieves and fraudsters are falling faster than autumn leaves. 

Former HOA treasurer indicted on theft, fraud charges (AZ)

By Kim Smith ksmith@gvnews.com Oct 18, 2017 Updated Oct 19, 2017 (1)

Green Valley News

A former HOA treasurer was arraigned Tuesday after being indicted on 16 counts of fraud, theft, forgery and computer tampering.
Wendell Odean Byram, 80, is accused of stealing more than $204,000 from the Canoa Seca Estates II homeowners association from January 2011 to April 2017, according to the indictment handed down Oct. 9 by a Pima County Superior Court grand jury.

Read more:

http://www.gvnews.com/news/former-hoa-treasurer-indicted-on-theft-fraud-charges/article_feb77c6e-b46b-11e7-bbb3-0bbd2a87130b.html

Lesson learned for this HOA: board members should regularly review bank statements, and visit the bank periodically to check on their accounts.  The former HOA Treasurer admitted to his crime after board members realized a large sum of money was missing. While the investigation was ongoing, Byram put his house on the market, but the HOA is in the process of putting a lien on the property, hoping to recover the money. 

Feds: Property manager stole $1.3 million from clients (AZ)

Courtney Holmes, Joe Ducey (ABC 15)
9:44 PM, Oct 3, 2017
8:54 AM, Oct 4, 2017

PHOENIX – Owners of a now-defunct Phoenix property management company are accused of conspiracy to commit money laundering in an indictment released on Tuesday.

The company, EPMI, Inc, formerly known as Eagle Property Management, represented about 40 homeowners associations across the Valley.

Named in the indictment are Harlow White, his wife Nancy, their daughters Rachel Ellerbrock and Kelsey Powell and her husband, Michael Powell.

According to the indictment, the company had full access to client bank accounts. Prosecutors accuse them of making $1.3 million dollars in unauthorized transfers from HOA client bank accounts to pay for “credit card payments, personal insurance, and other personal expenses. They’re also accused of falsifying documents to “conceal the theft” from 2010 through 2014.

Read more (Video):

http://www.abc15.com/news/let-joe-know/feds-property-manager-stole-1-3-million-from-clients

It’s a property management family affair, in this alleged theft totaling $1.3 million. 

 

Plainville woman allegedly embezzled nearly $80K from condo association (CT)

The Bristol Press
Published on Tuesday, 3 October 2017 21:21
Written by JUSTIN MUSZYNSKI
STAFF WRITER

PLAINVILLE – A Plainville woman who turned herself in on Tuesday is accused of misappropriating almost $80,000 from a local condo association where she resides and had served as treasurer.

Amy Lausier, 50, of 122 Milford St. Ext., is facing one felony count of first-degree larceny.

According to the arrest warrant, Lausier made numerous cash withdrawals from two bank accounts linked to the Milford Manor Condo Association on Milford Street between May 2013 and May of 2017. Police allege $77,279 was misappropriated during that time period.

Additionally, the six-page warrant said, Lausier allegedly did not pay condo association fees for about 10 years, saving herself roughly $30,000. The association also owes the Town of Plainville back taxes, including penalties, because those bills were not paid.

Read more:

http://www.bristolpress.com/BP-General+News/305310/plainville-woman-allegedly-embezzled-nearly-80k-from-condo-association

 

A condo treasurer admits she managed to conceal thefts of nearly $80,000 from her association. At one point her husband served as board president, too.  Lausier also owes $30,000 in unpaid condo assessments. Finally, one involved condo owner began asking questions and observing financial reports, resulting in a confession and arrest. 

I-Team: South Boston Condo Property Manager Accused Of Taking $200K In Missing Funds (MA)

October 11, 2017 11:20 PM By Ryan Kath
Filed Under: I-Team, Ryan Kath, South Boston, Suffolk Superior Court

BOSTON (CBS) – The trustees of a South Boston condo association are scrambling to pay the bills after they say a former property manager disappeared with an estimated $200,000 of funds.

The Channel View Condominium Trust has now filed a lawsuit in an effort to recoup the missing money and Boston police tell the WBZ I-Team they are also investigating.

As high-rise residential construction sprouts up around the Boston area, real estate legal experts say details of the financial dilemma can serve as a lesson for other condo associations.

Along West Third Street, there is plenty of evidence of neglected maintenance at the 18-unit Channel View building: rotted wood, peeling trim and missing exterior lights.

Read more (Video):

I-Team: South Boston Condo Property Manager Accused Of Taking $200K In Missing Funds 

 

One of the primary objections to saving money in reserve is that homeowners are uneasy about accumulating a large bank account that can be a target for theft or misuse. What happened at Channel View is just one of many examples  – this time, a former condo manager is accused of embezzling $200K that was set aside to maintain the exterior of the 18-unit condo building. Sometimes the money disappears due to misconduct from a homeowner serving on the association board. You might think that, in a small association, it would be hard to get away with stealing. But, when people are busy with their own lives, and rely upon one or two people to get things done, it’s really not that hard for an opportunist to take advantage of blind trust. 

 

Egg Harbor Township man accused of stealing $350K over seven years (NJ)

WALDY DIEZ Staff Writer Oct. 12, 2017

GALLOWAY – An Egg Harbor Township man is accused of stealing more than $350,000 from The Club at Galloway Condominium Association.

Galloway Township Detective Kerry Baerman arrested Ira Binder, 60, Oct. 5 for allegedly stealing a total of $352,620 between Jan. 2010 and Feb. 2017, said Sgt. Eric Hendrickson.

An investigation revealed Binder, who was the office manager of the Association located on Club Place in the township, overpaid himself over the seven year span, Hendrickson said.

He was released on a summons.

Read more:

http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/news/egg-harbor-township-man-accused-of-stealing-k-over-seven/article_fc903b20-c5f8-5320-aba1-b5b3c793c3bf.html

How does this happen? Did this manager write and sign his own paycheck for 7 years? 

 

AG Pam Bondi: Time to shut down Tampa duo preying on troubled homeowners (FL)

Susan Taylor MartinSusan Taylor Martin, Times Senior Correspondent
Thursday, October 12, 2017 10:57am

TAMPA — During the foreclosure crisis, a lot of investors made a lot of money off the misfortune of others. But few were as prolific as Jimmy Dean Chancey and his nephew, Michael Chancey.

Through a myriad of companies, the duo has acquired scores of houses in the Tampa Bay and Jacksonville areas for as little as $10 apiece. They got some at foreclosure auctions, others directly from desperate homeowners like Tarsha Santiago of Gibsonton.

“She said they knocked on her door more than once, and she was facing a number of things that were weighing on her mind plus facing foreclosure,” said lawyer Pamela Jo Hatley, who later represented Santiago. “They kept coming by and telling her they could help her with an attorney, they would help her avoid foreclosure, she could stay in her home and they talked her into doing this deal with them.”

In exchange for a few hundred dollars, Santiago deeded her four-bedroom, two-bath house to a company connected to the Chanceys.

More than a year after it began investigating the pair, prompted by stories in the Tampa Bay Times and on a Jacksonville TV station, the office of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is trying to put the Chanceys permanently out of business. In a complaint filed this month in Hillsborough County Circuit Court, Bondi’s office accuses the two of “unfair and deceptive trade practices” that include deliberately misleading homeowners and renting out houses without disclosing they are in foreclosure.

Read more:

http://www.tampabay.com/news/business/realestate/ag-pam-bondi-time-to-shut-down-tampa-duo-preying-on-troubled-homeowners/2340839

 

See also:

Attorney General Bondi sues HOA foreclosure companies she says preys on poor
Businesses allegedly bilk owners, renters, HOAs (WFTS ABC Action News Video – Tampa)

 

After several years of shady activities, Attorney General Pam Bondi is going after a pair of real estate scoundrels for unfair and deceptive trade practices. Jimmy Dean and Michael Chancey are accused of scamming homeowners and tenants alike, through their now-defunct HOA Problem Solutions business. They targeted owners facing HOA and bank foreclosure, convincing desperate owners to transfer title of their homes to the Chanceys for just a few dollars. But instead of making mortgage payments, Chanceys collected rent from tenants for their personal use, delaying bank foreclosure by using straw buyers to bid at HOA foreclosure auctions. The winning bidders would then fail to pay, voiding the sale, and allowing unsuspecting tenants to keep signing leases and paying rent to Chanceys. 

Rockville HOA Under Investigation After More Than $100K Missing

By Meagan Fitzgerald

A homeowners association in Rockville, Maryland, is under investigation after a report of more than $100,000 missing from their coffers.

Rockville police said they opened an investigation in August into the King Farm HOA and want to talk to a former employee. No arrests have been made, and the general manager of the HOA did not want to comment.

Residents were upset for the lack of notification from the HOA about the missing funds. Mark Silverstein, a resident of King Farm, said the association does a good job paying attention to the details of the neighbourhood so it looks its best, but he wanted to know why they were not quick to let him know about the alleged theft.

Police said the investigation is still very active and ongoing.
Published at 5:05 PM EDT on Oct 17, 2017 | Updated at 6:51 PM EDT on Oct 17, 2017

Source (see video):

https://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Rockville-HOA-Under-Investigation-After-More-Than-100K-Missing-451327683.html

Seems the HOA Board is right on top of the errant bird poop on a garage door, but not really paying attention to how the Association’s money is managed. 

 

 

WRAL INVESTIGATES
Feds grab gold, cash from man in HOA-foreclosure home-buying scheme

Posted 6:00 p.m. yesterday
Updated 6:55 p.m. yesterday

RALEIGH, N.C. — Federal authorities have seized gold, cash and other property from a Wake Forest man accused of fraudulently scooping up homes in foreclosure.

Xavier Milton Earquhart is being held without bond in the Harnett County jail on 14 counts of bank fraud, five counts of engaging in monetary transactions involving criminally derived property and one count of aggravated identity theft.

Read more (Video) :

http://www.wral.com/feds-grab-gold-cash-from-man-in-hoa-foreclosure-home-buying-scheme/17026549/

WRAL has been following what they call a “bizarre case” for three years. According to Federal investigators, who have amassed 26,000 pages of evidence in the case to support an arrest, Earqhart purchased homes at HOA foreclosure auctions, then created fraudulent documents to make it appear that mortgages had been paid off, and that he owned each home with a clean title. Then, according to the Feds, Earqhart would resell properties to unsuspecting buyers or obtain bank loans, depositing or laundering the ill-gotten cash by buying gold, silver, electronics, and a new car. 

For more than a decade, former owners of HOA property have been sounding the alarms of foul play and fraudulent foreclosures. This particular investigation and arrest proves that allegations of “fraudclosures” should not be entirely dismissed. 

 

Jacksonville businessman received over $135K as result of fraud, DOJ says
Ashish Bahl, 52, pleads guilty to fraud

By Dawn Jorgenson – Web – News Editor, News 4 JAX
Posted: 6:21 PM, October 18, 2017
Updated: 6:21 PM, October 18, 2017

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville man who also resides in Atlanta pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud related to the SunTrust Bank building near Jacksonville Landing, the Department of Justice said.

Officials said Ashish Bahl, 52, who was included as an owner with Parador Partners, LLC, purchased a majority interest in the building in 2009.

Based upon Parador’s majority ownership of the building, Bahl controlled the board of directors for the association in which the condominium owners were part of, called the River Watch at City Centre Condominium Association, Inc., the DOJ said. He was also associated with the management company for the building.

The DOJ said Bahl inflated special assessments for various building expenses and led other condo owners to believe the invoices were accurate. He also, with the assistance of others, made agreements with contractors to submit inflated invoices for special assessment maintenance issues that were paid for by the condo association, officials said.

Read more:

https://www.news4jax.com/news/jacksonville-businessman-received-over-135k-as-result-of-fraud-doj-says

In a small percentage of high profile fraud cases, the DOJ investigates, usually with charges of wire fraud or mail fraud. But when you read the article, the allegations will sound familiar to many property owners in association-governed communities: a board member, manager, or both engage in an elaborate scheme of false invoices and kickbacks. Most of these crimes go undetected for years, and are not reported if and when discovered. Why? Unless the loss is sufficient enough to warrant a criminal investigation, the association finds that cost to launch a civil suit is prohibitive. Besides, most boards would prefer to avoid bad publicity for their community. 

Advertisements

One Reply to “HOA, condo, co-op fraud, theft, and corruption roundup (Oct. 2017)”

  1. It is sad to see that even management companies are involved. Regardless whether it is theft by hired management or from Board members, this should be a good reminder to make sure Associations have proper levels of insurance. I had to terminate a few tellers for theft when I worked in banking and every time it was a crime of opportunity. If the right processes are in place to reduce the ease of getting away with it, it drastically reduces the push for such people to steal. Even with the best safeguards in place, make sure insurance is in place for the unforeseen.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s