By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

The internet can be both an ally and an adversary to today’s home seller. When it comes to scams and cons, homeowners are easy prey for professional criminals.

Let’s face it. When selling real estate, you are inviting strangers into your home. Figuratively with online photos, maps, and more. And literally when they come to view your property. You and your home are exposed for the world to see.

Being aware of the scams aimed at sellers is the first step to stopping them in their tracks. These are some of the most popular swindles I’ve heard about in the past year:

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scammersLydia Blair
Special Contributor

When you’re buying a home, the last thing you want to think about is criminals and scammers. Unfortunately, as a homebuyer, you are a major (and often easy) target for criminal types. With thousands of unwitting victims every year, it is a lucrative business for crooks.

Maybe homebuyers should be afraid. Be very afraid. But perhaps it’s better to say, “Be aware.” Be vigilant. Be cautious.

Here are the five most common rip-offs I’ve heard about in the past year. (more…)

  • SEC charges come two months after the Texas State Securities Board charged Christian Custom Homes CEO Phillip Carter with fraud
  • Agency alleges Carter and two co-conspirators defrauded more than 270 investors
  • Christian Custom Homes and several other companies owned by Carter are now under control of new manager

A little more than two months after the state of Texas charged Frisco-based Christian Custom Homes CEO Phillip Michael Carter with several fraud charges, the Security and Exchange Commission announced it too would charge him and two other alleged co-conspirators with fraud.

Phillip Carter, left; Shelley Carter, right.

In November, the Texas State Securities Board announced the indictments of Carter, and his wife, Shelley Noel Carter, on assorted state fraud charges stemming from alleged misuse of investor funds meant to go to real estate development ventures. Carter was also indicted in Collin County Court on charges stemming from the sale of fraudulent promissory notes, along with Richard Gregory Tilford of Arlington, who is alleged to have raised $6 million from investors. Carter’s wife, Shelley, was charged with money laundering and misapplying investor funds.

Bobby Eugene Guess

The state’s indictment against Carter alleges that he raised nearly $17.5 million from nearly 100 investors, primarily elderly Texans, for real estate development projects through Texas Cash Cow Investments Inc. and North Forty Development LLC.

One of Carter’s sales agents, Bobby Eugene Guess — had been served with a target letter from the U.S. Attorney’s Office informing him that he was under investigation for mail fraud, money laundering, and securities fraud, and in July he was sentenced to 12 years in state prison.

Guess, a former wealth manager, also hosted the radio program “Dollars & Sense” on WBAP.

The state charges for Tilford and both Carters remain pending.

The SEC Alleges ‘Multi-Million Dollar Offering Fraud’

The SEC’s announced it was charging Carter, Guess, and Tilford for conducting “multi-million dollar offering fraud.”

The agency alleged that the three raised almost $45 million from more than 270 investors across the country by selling short-term, high-yield promissory notes that were issued by shell companies that the SEC alleged were intentionally created to confuse investors. (more…)

Christian Custom Homes president Phillip Carter in a still from a promotional video. Carter, several associates, and his wife were indicted recently for fraud.

Investors were lured by brochures, radio interviews, and email invitations for dinners, where they could learn about “9% investment return opportunities” with North Forty Development and Texas First Financial. Instead, hundreds saw their money allegedly spent on anything but real estate development.

Phillip Carter, left; Shelley Carter, right. (Photos courtesy Texas State Securities Board)

The president of Frisco-based Christian Homes, Phillip Michael Carter, and his wife, Shelley Noel Carter, were indicted Tuesday on assorted state fraud charges stemming from alleged misuse of investor funds meant to go to real estate development ventures, the Texas State Securities Board announced Wednesday.

Phillip Carter was also indicted last week in Collin County Court on charges stemming from the sale of fraudulent promissory notes, along with Richard Gregory Tilford of Arlington, who is alleged to have raised $6 million from investors.

Carter’s wife, Shelley, was charged with money laundering and misapplying investor funds.

The indictment against Carter alleges that he raised nearly $17.5 million from nearly 100 investors, primarily elderly Texans, for real estate development projects through Texas Cash Cow Investments Inc. and North Forty Development LLC.

“Carter and Tilford told investors their money would be used to develop commercial and residential properties,” the TSSB said.

But instead of using those funds for revenue-generating investments, Carter used them for things like paying personal expenses and paying off a personal Internal Revenue Service tax lien. (more…)

fraud

(Illustration courtesy Pixabay)

When my husband and I closed on our newest home in December, I remember vividly the flurry of emails between the lender, the title company, our Realtor, and more. It seemed like daily — and especially as the closing date drew nearer, hourly — there was some new form that would need to be signed, or some new update on the process.

So when I heard last week of a family in Frisco (who declined to be named for this story) who showed up at closing thinking they had already paid their down payment, only to find that the emailed instructions they got were a fraud, it didn’t sound improbable.

You get a lot of emails. And if one came from what appeared to be a title company or a lender and you had never bought a home before (or hadn’t purchased one in a while) you might take a request to wire your down payment as some kind of new, modern way to do it.

Only, it’s not. And this family showed up at closing and were surprised when they were asked for the customary check for the down payment. It was literally the first time they knew that the thousands of dollars they had saved were gone forever. (more…)