Conman steals from lifelong friends
It's a story of trust betrayed. From the time they were children, they trusted someone who turned out to be a conman. He roped them into his fraudulent schemes. William Zemblidge is a US Postal Inspector and explained how it started. "He was a martial artist instructor," Zemblidge said. "He worked with children, he developed almost a bond, almost a life long bond with these people."
Alonzo Brown doubled as a martial arts instructor and a licensed real estate agent. Postal Inspectors say he would often help clients buy their first homes. "Within weeks after the purchase she was told there were some problem with the paperwork, which was a lie, and that she needed to re-sign some papers in the transaction," Zemblidge said. "Which was a lie."
With this paperwork slight of hand, Brown had victims co-signing loans for additional homes. Zemblidge said, "The person didn't know at the time they were signing for a new home and it would happen over and over again in a very short period of time."
Initially, Bbrown was making the mortgage payments and often selling the properties for profit, or borrowing against any equity earned on the home. Victims had no idea their names were being used. "People who were close with the suspect and people trusted him to do the right thing. He didn't."
That wasn't all. While Postal Inspectors were investigating this scheme, they found more. Zemblidge said,
"This suspect in this case is not only effectively perpetrating a very large mortgage fraud scheme involving millions of dollars, but at the same time he was fleecing another consumer or another person by saying he was this investment genius and he could at least double your money within minutes."
Brown told victims they could double their investment. Again, they trusted him and some lost everything. "Its absolutely too good to be true."
Postal inspectors say investors need to be on the lookout for promises of unrealistic returns and always do their research. You want to find out whether or not they are with an established institution. Brown was sentenced to more than five years in federal prison and ordered to pay his victims more than $2 million dollars in restitution.
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