I've been in real estate for some time now yet it never ceases to amaze me what kind of shenanigans go on in some circles within the industry. Yeah, we've all heard the jokes about Realtors, some that are true, but most Realtors are upstanding individuals, possibly even former Boy Scouts or Brownies.
And then there are the others. The scammers. The shady ones. The opportunists gone wild. Yep, our industry has them. Of course, out of 1,000,000 Realtors nationwide you know that there have to be a few bad apples.
So every few years a handful of people get arrested locally in some type of real estate scheme. I've know OF many of the Realtors that have been arrested and/or convicted but I don't know any of them personally. I haven't transacted business with any of them and I don't have any ties to their co-conspirators. Maybe I stay away from things that just don't feel right, or maybe I'm just lucky.
Greed is usually the driving force behind most of the antics. Of course, greed can be traced to a lot of questionable activity.
There are three things that amaze me about these kinds of stories:
1. The people involved are not petty criminals and the schemes are elaborate and well-thought.
2. The greed is over-the-top. They steal and cheat in order to feed their lives of luxury.
3. They seem to think that they will never get caught but almost almost always do.
There have been several of these "rings" that have been broken up over the years. I had a friend that actually worked for one of the ring-leaders in one of them for a short time. I'm pretty sure that my friend had no idea. Or at least they haven't caught up with him yet. (I haven't seen him in years, he moved out of state)
The reason I wanted to post this is because a recent follow-up to a story about one of these incidents. One of the Realtors involved was recently sentenced to jail. Here is the initial story and the follow-up:
U.S. Justice Department
This lovely little scam involved two Realtors, a builder, the builder's wife, an accountant, and who knows who else. They were charged with money laundering, tax fraud, wire fraud, and obstruction of justice. Did they get caught? Yes. But in the meantime they defrauded people out of millions of dollars. As a Realtor I am not "happy" that my fellow Realtors are going to prison. I try not to take pleasure in the displeasure of others. However, I am glad that justice was served and people are going to pay. I hope that is a lesson to those "questionable" people in this industry who may be teetering on the edge of bad judgment. Just remember: you likely will get caught.