Miami woman accused of scamming real estate investors

Miami woman accused of scamming real estate investors
Jonathan Postal
Joe Carrillo, P.I., is on the case.

Richard Cross believed he was getting a stellar deal on a luxurious six-bedroom house in Pinecrest. The gated, lushly landscaped residence sported oak French doors at the front entrance. Marble-tile floors gleamed throughout the living room, dining room, and kitchen. The upstairs bedrooms boasted maple hardwood flooring. Stone railings and columns added a Greco-Roman flair to the hallways. On the ground floor, the master suite's French doors opened to a back-yard pool and hot tub made of fine granite.

In March 2010, when Cross was offered the opportunity to purchase the house as an investment, the property was valued at $781,294. But the 53-year-old oil field service owner from Texas believed the glamorous abode would be his for the bargain price of $380,000 cash thanks to a company named Miami-Dade County Short Sales.

More than a year later, Cross doesn't own the house and has received back only about $30,000. "It turned into the worst-case scenario," Cross says during a recent phone interview. "It was a scam. She never had the property."

Cross is referring to a 47-year-old Cuban-American woman who worked on behalf of Miami-Dade County Short Sales. Her name is Ayda Young, and she pleaded guilty to pulling off two scams in 1990 and 2000 that netted a combined $86,500 from six victims. In her latest alleged racket, Cross is not her only accuser.

Three other former clients also contend Young duped them. Two of those alleged victims have filed lawsuits in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court against Young and Miami-Dade County Short Sales. And since June 2010, detectives from the county police department's economic crimes bureau have been investigating Young and two other women connected to Miami-Dade County Short Sales, which collected and never returned $2.4 million in payments for real estate deals that the now-defunct firm never closed.

The caper exposes the ease with which local rip-off artists prey on out-of-towners by promising them drastically discounted prices on properties in default. And because one out of five households in Miami-Dade is in foreclosure, investors are swooping in to buy distressed properties, making the local foreclosure market a breeding ground for scammers, according to a July 26 New York Times article.

Young, a heavyset blonde who lives with her mother in a two-bedroom house in Miami's Flagami neighborhood, did not want to talk about Miami-Dade County Short Sales or her criminal past when New Times paid her a visit. "I'm sorry, but my attorney advised me not to comment," she said.

Her lawyer, Israel Encinosa, categorically denies she committed any wrongdoing. "My client lost a lot of money with Miami-Dade County Short Sales," he insists. "She never handled any funds. She is a victim too."

Frank Hollander, an attorney representing a South American investor named Morella Sosa, says his client found out about Young's foreclosure sales business on a real estate marketing website registered to Young. According to Sosa's lawsuit, the website claimed Young had access to "foreclosed properties that [had] not reached the open market."

Even though Young's name does not appear on any corporate documents for Miami-Dade County Short Sales, Hollander insists his client dealt only with her. Sosa set up two deals with Miami-Dade County Short Sales — one for $250,000 to purchase a Miami Beach condo and another for $81,000 to buy a unit at 2101 Brickell Ave.

Hollander says Sosa never received the titles of the properties or her $331,000 back, even after Young signed a document assuming full responsibility for the missing money. "The entire thing was a complete fraud," Hollander says. "During a recent deposition, Young took the Fifth on everything I asked her, even her email address."

In Cross's case, he learned about Miami-Dade County Short Sales through a real estate broker who had helped him purchase a vacation home in Fort Myers. Cross claims the broker told him the company could get the property before it was sold at auction, which is why the firm could sell it to him at a very low price. "The earlier transaction gave me a comfortable feeling," Cross says, adding he was unaware of Young's prior criminal record.

He never saw the Pinecrest house in person, only online. At the time, he had not spoken with Young or Zoraida Abreu, a realtor who was supposedly the president of Miami-Dade County Short Sales and a business associate of Ayda's.

He wired the $380,000 to a bank account owned by Miami-Dade County Short Sales on March 29 last year. Thirty days later, Cross claims, Young and Abreu told him the sale had been delayed. He demanded a refund, but the two tried to stall him, so he flew to Miami May 20. Young picked him up at the airport in her 2008 Mercedes-Benz ML350 SUV, Cross says. "I demanded that she take me to see Zoraida," Cross recalls. "Ayda kept telling me they had received the notice from the clerk's office that the property was in their hands."

She drove to an office in Weston where she handed him a phony-looking certificate of sale on Miami-Dade County Clerk of Courts letterhead. "While we were there, I didn't see anything in the office that said, 'Miami-Dade County Short Sales,'" Cross adds. "Nothing on the windows or on the door or in the lobby that proved this company actually existed. And Zoraida wasn't there either."

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11 comments
for sale by owner fort collins
for sale by owner fort collins

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Fort Myers foreclosures

I just hope that this issue about the woman who scammed real estate investor will be resolve as soon as possible.

Fort Myers Property Management
Fort Myers Property Management

After being accused? What's next? Justice must prevail to stop these frauds and scams. We shouldn't be suffering from the crisis if there were no such frauds..

Amkleer
Amkleer

Buyers should be more discerning when looking for Real Estate bargains. If it sounds too good to be true...sometimes it really is. a few of the best way to stay away from scams is to stay informed, seek professional help and deal with reputable and trustworthy Real Easte professionals.

Here are some myths buyers should ALSO pay attention to be more informed:

http://www.thekleerteam.com/bl...

Majoritain Veller
Majoritain Veller

Scamming real estate investors is a most important in the real estate. It is believed in accepting a arch accord on a comfortable six-bedroom abode in Pinecrest. The gated, lushly landscaped abode sported oak French doors at the foreground entrance.

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Ernie Sandoval
Ernie Sandoval

Here are two people that should be taken seven miles out into the tiger shark-infested gulf stream, given a 2 pound bag of ground chuck, tossed overboard, and left to swim for it. If they make back great - they are free.

Pierce Pola
Pierce Pola

Young's foreclosure sales business on a absolute acreage business website registered to Young. According to Sosa's lawsuit, the website claimed Young had admission to "foreclosed backdrop that [had] not accomplished the accessible market."

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P_Nis
P_Nis

Meanwhile back at the state attorneys office...

Cricket noise,

Cricket noise,

Cricket noise,

Cricket noise,

Cricket noise,

Cricket noise,

Cricket noise,

Cricket noise...

Homes in orange county
Homes in orange county

I would like to say that this blog really convinced me, you give me best information! Thanks, very good post.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Where's the Justice??? Miami Dade Police Department sits on it's hands again

michael wind
michael wind

detectives miami dade=preventing the crime is the best solution=investigate every single company in miami dade in the short real estate business transactions,agents,attorneys and closing companies before they do any more crime,the fraud that is happening now is bigger then ever.......there should be a special bonus for this type of work......i wish everyone well.

 
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