Fraud: Do The Right Thing

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By PETER ROSENTHAL, President
V.I.P. Trust Deed Company
April 2001

In the last six months, I have devoted two columns to real estate fraud. After each article I’ve received several calls and/or letters soliciting my advice on current ongoing frauds or readers indicating “that’s was happened to me”. After my last column on the subject “Loan Fraud Revisited”, I received a letter complaining about three real estate licensees operating in concert out of several smaller California cities. Many people have been defrauded and various cities have active cases on these real estate licensees.

In the past I have bemoaned the fact that victims and victims’ attorneys spend 99.9% of their efforts retrieving funds and virtually zero percent of their efforts in STOPPING the scoundrel or scoundrels from future operations. In fact, some victims are candid enough to admit that they don’t want the crook to go out of business because the crook would then have little or no money to pay them back. Though I’m used to these kinds of comments – IT STINKS.  This attitude is both selfish and uncaring as well as extremely naïve. Once a crook’s dastardly deeds are exposed to the light of day it’s very unusual for victims to receive any of the FUTURE spoils.

This column and these thoughts are prompted by the victim’s letter I mentioned above. Part of the letter said “we tried to stop the brokers from doing future business, but the California licensing authorities were of little help”.

Though the Department of Real Estate is terribly understaffed in their investigation division, I was amazed that they were “of little help” with a major fraud. A few phone calls shed more light on the situation and I think I’ve coined a new phrase – “both the Lord and any investigative agencies help those who help themselves”. In this case the victim was unwilling to spend the time necessary to dig up the specific documents that would help the investigative agency “make their case”. In this day and age it’s hard enough to get Government agencies to investigate anything. It’s virtually impossible to get them to be very interested without much to go on. I’m always amazed at how tedious and time-consuming these investigations are and certainly they cannot get far without A LITTLE cooperation from the victims involved.

Though this article has given me an opportunity to vent some frustration about the typical victim mentality, I also hope that it can convince you, when burned, to complain in writing to the proper licensing authority. Whether the complaint is to the State Bar (attorneys), Bureau of Consumer Affairs, Department of Real Estate (real estate licensees), Contractors License Board, local police department, district attorney, F.B.I., or whatever – PLEASE DO IT. You may not get your money back but, hopefully, it will make you feel better to get the smiling crook off the street.

Peter Rosenthal
VIP Trust Deed Company