A woman has been arrested in a sprawling real estate scam that police say victimized more than 45 victims and raked in over $300,000 in ill-gotten gains. The 20-year-old suspect is accused of attempting to rent or sell 25 properties with the owner’s knowledge. She was able to post the listings on real estate sites. The woman posed as the owners and the lead agent where she would close on the home, take the money, and then disappear. As part of the fraud, the victim created fake businesses, websites, agent identities, and email addresses to perpetrate the fraud. She is facing charges of conspiracy to commit fraud, grand theft, money laundering, aggravated white-collar crime, and communications fraud.
Analyzing the charges
A “scheme to defraud” is covered under the Florida Communications Fraud Act and involves a pattern of behavior to manipulate people under false pretenses into giving their money away. Since the value of the scheme to defraud is over $50,000, it is charged as a first-degree felony which has a 30-year maximum sentence under Florida law. Grand theft is also a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in state prison due to the amount of money stolen. Money laundering is also a felony in the first degree.
In accordance with the White Collar Crime Victim Protection Act, the defendant will be required to pay double the amount stolen or $600,000, and make restitution to the victims.
So, we’re dealing with extremely serious charges which amount to 90 years in prison and a fine of $600,000.
Right now, the only thing the defendant has going for her is that she is only 20 years of age and likely does not have a criminal record. Nonetheless, police have literally “thrown the book” at her and charged her with the most severe variant of every possible crime she could be charged with. It is unlikely that she will spend the next 90 years in prison, but her crimes are severe enough to require her to serve a minimum sentence.
Florida judges are required to assign mandatory minimums to any criminal who has a point total above 44. The point total will depend on the plea agreement she is likely to cut with the prosecution. She will only face points on those charges for which the government can convict her. Further, her age will be an extenuating factor in determining her sentence. Nonetheless, aggravating factors include the amount of money stolen and the number of victims. She also impersonated others to perpetrate the fraud.
Talk to a West Palm Beach White Collar Crime Attorney
The Skier Law Firm, P.A. has extensive experience representing those convicted of white-collar crimes such as fraud. Call our West Palm Beach criminal lawyers today to schedule an appointment and we can begin preparing your defense immediately.