By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
The November 2018 roundup includes reports of HOA corruption from embezzlement to wire transfer fraud to money laundering.
Orange Sheriff’s Office investigating reported $400K embezzlement from Lake of the Woods Association (VA)
By Allison Brophy Champion
Nov 27, 2018
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the reported embezzlement of more than $400,000 from the Lake of the Woods Association by a former employee, according to a Tuesday news release.
No arrests have been made in the case, according to the release, which states that the crime is alleged to have unfolded over about four years.
The Sheriff’s Office learned in August of the embezzlement from the Association, which governs the gated lakeside community located along Route 3 in northeastern Orange County.
According to a news release Tuesday from Philip Rodenberg with Lake of the Woods, a financial irregularity was discovered during its 2018 audit. The Association hired the Forensus Group to conduct a forensic investigation into alleged material misconduct by former Director of Finance Roy C. Mayberry.
Forensus subsequently identified a PayPal scheme by which Mayberry allegedly directed 95 transactions totaling $457,197.34 from the Association’s operating account into his personal PayPal account over a period of 44 months, the release states.
Lake of the Woods is a 50-year-old amenity-rich private community, halfway between Fredericksburg and Culpepper, is a lucrative target for embezzlement. An 2018 audit noted that fixed asset values were inflated by the HOA’s former Director of Finance. The association has fidelity insurance to help cover the huge loss, and the Sheriff’s investigation is ongoing.
Texas AG won’t confirm investigation into Montague County homeowner group
Barbara Green, The Bowie News Published 12:11 a.m. CT Nov. 25, 2018
The Montague County Sheriff’s Office has referred an investigation into a possible fraudulent property owner’s association election to the Texas Attorney General’s Office.
Montague County Chief Jack Lawson said he would “refrain from calling it a scam” because at this point they just don’t know. However, officials with the AG’s office said the items were fraudulent and did not come from its office.
The Bowie News made a request to the communications division of the Attorney General’s office asking about an investigation. Officials said it has been passed on to the enforcement division indicating it will be investigated, but that could not be confirmed.
Kayleigh Lovvorn, media spokesperson, stated the following: “We are aware of the packages and letters you’re speaking of, however, office policy states that we cannot confirm or deny ongoing investigations. I can confirm that the ‘summary judgement’ letters received by the Nocona Hills Property Owners Association were not created by the Texas Office of the Attorney general and were not distributed by our office.”
Apparently someone in Nocona Hills POA is interfering with the annual election. This is another private community with a golf course and a lake.
Hell’s Kitchen condo residents are rebelling against its ‘creepy’ boss
By Christopher Cameron November 11, 2018 | 2:59am | Updated
Enraged residents of a Hell’s Kitchen condo are rebelling against the flashy building boss who they claim has turned the luxe tower into an illegal, short-term rental “gulag.”
Daniel Neiditch’s firm, River to River Realty, is not just the exclusive Realtor for the Atelier, located 635 W. 42nd St., he is also the building’s manager and 10-year-long board president.
Owners accuse Neiditch of using his power to run the building like a Mafioso, organizing a large-scale illegal Airbnb racket with other board members, and threatening and intimidating residents who have stood in his way, according to a draft lawsuit, to be filed this week in Manhattan Supreme Court, obtained by the Post.
“He called me ‘gray hair bitch,’” says condo owner Eugenia Elliott, who was fined $2,500 for “incitement of violence” by the board, she says for running an 88-strong Atelier residents’ WhatsApp group organized to combat the short-term rental epidemic in the building. “I’m a 70-year-old grandmother of four.”
“It’s the kookiest place,” says Tanya Helfand, a divorce attorney who bought a pied-à-terre in February. “It’s like a Fellini movie here.”
Helfand says that immediately after she purchased her apartment it was clear that foreign tourists and even bachelorette parties were overrunning the 46-story tower. But instead of addressing the problem by having the doorman ID residents, she says Neiditch threatened her and admitted to “watching” her via the building’s security-camera system.
Condo residents accuse Neiditch and board members of running an illegal AirBnb business, and using bully tactics against anyone who complains. The board denies allegations. However, Neiditch has a history of engaging in unethical and inappropriate activity.
It’s alarming that one person serves as Atalier’s board President, building manager, and exclusive realtor. The conflict of interest possibilities are endless.
Bayou Pointe Condo Owners Claim Crews Gutted and Removed Property without Permission
By: Kirsten Mitchell
Posted: Nov 16, 2018 07:26 PM EST
Updated: Nov 16, 2018 07:26 PM EST
MILLVILLE, Fla. – You’ve no doubt heard a few horror stories about people, forced to leave their homes due to damage from Hurricane Michael.
Now there’s one that has also turned into a mystery.
Residents at Bayou Pointe Villas in Millville, claim a restoration company has taken their property without their permission.
“At the time we showed up it was okay, it was damaged but the unit was probably repairable,” said condo owner Jeff Smith.
Jeff Smith planned to repair his Bayou Pointe Villa condominium unit himself but he never got the chance. He said a man wearing a Lincoln Hancock Restoration shirt showed up and said FEMA deemed their building uninhabitable and Smith would have to remove his property.
“The representative told me if it wasn’t taken out by us, it was going to be taken out by a sledgehammer,” said Smith.
Many of the 28 units are now stripped of the walls, floors, furniture, even some appliances.
Owner Sandra Justice claims crews gutted her home, despite little to no damage.
“It’s just heartless for somebody to come and do what they’ve done here with out our permission or our knowledge,” said Justice.
Read more (Video):
Condo owners are left to wonder what happened? Insurance fraud? Thieves posing as fake contractors?
Hackers target real estate deals, with devastating impact
September 22, 2018
Washington (AFP) – James and Candace Butcher were ready to finalize the purchase of their dream retirement home, and at closing time wired $272,000 from their bank following instructions they received by email.
Within hours, the money had vanished.
Unbeknownst to the Colorado couple, the email account for the real estate settlement company had been hacked, and fraudsters had altered the wiring instruction to make off with the hefty sum representing a big chunk of the Butchers’ life savings, according to a lawsuit filed in state court.
A report by the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center said the number of victims of email fraud involving real estate transactions rose 1,110 percent between 2015 to 2017 and losses rose nearly 2,200 percent.
Nearly 10,000 people reported being victims of this kind of fraud in 2017 with losses over $56 million, the FBI report said.
The Butchers, forced to move into their son’s basement instead of their dream home, eventually reached a confidential settlement in a lawsuit against their real estate agent, bank and settlement company, according to their lawyer Ian Hicks.
The lawsuit filed by Hicks for the Butchers said that “the scam that befell the Butchers was well-known in the real estate industry and easily preventable.”
Earlier this year, a Kansas court assigned 85 percent of the liability to a hacked real estate agent and awarded a homebuyer defrauded by fake wiring instructions $167,129.
Hicks said that in these cases, “there is a lot of blame to go around,” but argued that “unless companies have to pay money they won’t do what’s necessary to protect the consumer.”
Read full article:
A disturbing report of international email hackers, who target real estate transactions by intercepting wire transfers. Sometimes home buyers are caught in the trap.
After investing big in Miami real estate, these Argentines held in corruption scandal
BY KYRA GURNEY AND NICHOLAS NEHAMAS
November 03, 2018 07:30 AM
Updated November 03, 2018 05:34 PM
After arresting four people — including the owner of a Miami-area realty firm — authorities in Argentina appear to have unraveled the mystery of a $65 million property empire that included luxury condos in South Florida and New York City, as they pursue a major corruption case against ex-president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.
The four people arrested by federal police in Argentina last month are Elizabeth Ortiz Municoy, an Argentine national who runs an international realty business that until recently operated a branch in Surfside; Sergio Todisco, Municoy’s ex-husband and a clothing manufacturer; Carolina Pochetti, the widow of a former top aide to the Kirchner family; and Carlos Cortez, a businessman who travels between Argentina and South Florida.
Prosecutors accuse them of investing illicit money on behalf of the Kirchner aide, Héctor Daniel Muñoz, outside the country using a web of shell companies.
Read more here:
As Argentina cracks down on corruption in its government, the money trail leads to international real estate money laundering operations in Miami. See also, previous IAC post, Dirty money and the Miami real estate market