It was an Only-In-Miami scam first reported by New Times. Three women promised local and out-of-state investors luxurious homes in foreclosure at super awesome discounted prices by claiming they had inside sources at the Miami-Dade County Clerk's Office that could get them the properties before going to auction. They also claimed they could secure tax certificates for homes with delinquent property taxes. Ayda Young, Yohany Garcia, and Zoraida Abreu collected $2.4 million from at least 10 victims. But in reality, the women never had any rights to the homes and just stole the money, according to an multi-count indictment announced by the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office earlier today.
The trio, and a fourth accomplice, Johnny Bou-Nassar, have been criminally charged with racketeering, grand theft, forgery, and criminal use of personal information.
We chronicled the efforts of 53-year-old Texan Richard Cross to recoup $380,000 he had wired to an account owned By Miami-Dade County Short Sales, a bogus company incorporated by the three ladies. Cross subsequently learned that Young and Garcia both had previous convictions for fraud. Despite hiring a private investigator and confronting Young at her house in 2010, Cross only recovered $30,000 from the women.
He wasn't alone. Another victim, Morella Sosa, sued Young in Miami-Dade Circuit Court alleging the ex-con bilked her out of $331,000 meant to buy two condos. Young has steadfastly denied any wrongdoing, blaming Garcia and Abreu for their racket. The victims eventually filed complaints with the Miami-Dade Police Department and the county's inspector general's office, which opened a criminal probe.
The indictment explains how Young, Garcia, and Abreu were able to cash checks from Miami-Dade County Short Sales at a check cashing store in which Bou-Nassar knew the owner. Bou-Nassar and Garcia are cousins. But the store's owner evnetually grew suspicious of the group and stopped cashing the checks, but not before they cashed out $2.4 million.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.