Skip to main content

Exit WCAG Theme

Switch to Non-ADA Website

Accessibility Options

Select Text Sizes

Select Text Color

Website Accessibility Information Close Options
Close Menu
Ratzan & Faccidomo LLC Motto
  • Ratzan & Faccidomo, LLC. has moved to its brand new state of the art flagship office. Please make note of our new address
  • ~

Types of Real Estate Fraud


South Florida is the land of impossibly beautiful edifices that seem to spring up overnight.  How many times have you driven past a row of McMansions that was an empty field of dirt the last time you drove down that road, and it was a swamp a year ago?  There are no basements in South Florida, because the limestone would never allow it, but we do have split level houses, where it is impossible to tell for certain, whether from inside the house or outside, how many stories the house has.  In other words, nothing in South Florida is as it seems.  There is a reason that the part of The Big Short that is set in Miami juxtaposes scenes of a stripper and a real estate agent, both selling you something that you know is too good to be true.  Consider the Delano hotel on South Beach.  The lobby has floor to ceiling aquariums where jellyfish undulate, backlit by the blood red walls of the hotel, and on the back patio is a swimming pool so shallow that you can walk through it to get to tables and chairs, and a life-sized chessboard arises from it like a sandbar.  It is no wonder that real estate fraud is so common in Florida, since there is so much real estate and so many illusions.  Like introduced species, real estate fraud comes in many forms.  Here, our Miami white collar crime lawyer explains several types of real estate-related fraud that you might unknowingly get mixed up in if you are too trusting.

Scams Involving Alternative Methods of Paying Rent

Rent is expensive, so tenants look for relief anywhere they can find it.  Meanwhile, the employees of property management companies don’t get paid nearly enough.  It is a perfect storm for rent-related fraud.  Recent criminal cases have involved property management employees, or people who claimed to work for the company that represents the large apartment complex, offering tenants discounts on their rent if they paid the rent directly to the alleged employee instead of to the company.  If a coworker asks you to collect tenants’ rent in a way other than how tenants normally pay, you should be suspicious.  You should also be suspicious if a coworker asks you to record that a tenant paid their rent if you did not see the money or the transaction receipt yourself.

House Flipping-Related Scams

Buying uninhabitable houses, renovating them, and reselling them is not an inherently fraudulent activity, but home flippers can be accused of real estate fraud if they falsely inflate the value of the property so that they can get more money for it.  If you are involved in a house flipping project, you could face legal trouble if falsified documents were involved in the sale, even if you did not personally falsify them and did not know that they were falsified.

Fraudulent Listings for Rental Properties

Another type of real estate fraud occurs when someone posts a listing online advertising a house or apartment for rent, when the person who posted the ad does not control the property and does not have the right to rent it out.  In some cases, the house or apartment does not even exist, and the person who posted it just wants to collect a deposit from a prospective tenant and then disappear.  These scams often target people who currently live out of town and are looking for an apartment to rent once they move.  If you are a freelancer being asked to post real estate listing ads online or respond to emails from prospective tenants, be cautious about whether the party offering this gig is a reputable company.

Defending Yourself Against Charges of Real Estate Fraud

Many cases of fraud involve conspiracy.  If you are accused of being part of a group of people who committed a real estate scam, it is easier to prove that you acted without criminal intent than it is to prove that the fraud did not occur.  The transaction records and bank statements show that the prospective tenant or buyer paid the money.  Your defense strategy can rely on the fact that you did not know the true condition of the property and did not know that the documents contained false statements.

Contact Our Criminal Defense Attorneys

A South Florida criminal defense lawyer can help you if you are facing criminal charges for real estate fraud.  Contact Ratzan & Faccidomo in Miami, Florida for a confidential consultation about your case.


Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

By submitting this form I acknowledge that form submissions via this website do not create an attorney-client relationship, and any information I send is not protected by attorney-client privilege.

Skip footer and go back to main navigation