Thanks to a great reader, word out of Florida is more land trust schemers have been the unfortunate focus of law enforcement. The interesting part is how they all tie together.
“The Florida attorney general’s office shut down two more South Florida land trusts Monday, continuing a yearlong pursuit to stop multiple intertwined firms from selling a complex foreclosure rescue scheme to vulnerable homeowners.
A Broward County judge’s order Monday temporarily froze the operations and assets of the Lauderdale by the Sea-based firms of Cambridge Land Trust and Hartford Land Trust. The company’s owner, Robert Vitale, 42, is also named in the complaint.”
“According to the complaints, the trusts hired boiler room-type call centers to solicit homeowners with underwater mortgages or who are in foreclosure. The borrowers allegedly paid thousands of dollars in upfront fees and signed over the deeds to their homes to the trusts under the belief the company could get their mortgage canceled.”
The suit against Cambridge, Hartford and Vitale says the companies cannot deliver the services they pitch and are “deceptive, misleading and/or unconscionable, because Cambridge’s scheme does not bring about the cancellation of a homeowner’s mortgage.””
“This month, the state sued Whitestone Capital Trust, Become the Bank LLC and Lake Worth homeowner Nicholas Torgerson. Torgerson has hired West Palm Beach-based attorney Michael Pike, who in a news release last week said he will challenge the state.
“Whitestone Capital Trust and Torgerson have attempted to distinguish their services from other land trust models and establish a legitimate and viable service for homeowners,” the release said.
Court filings show the land trusts are connected and trace the business model to Plantation resident Edward Cherry, who was barred in a 2009 consent judgment by the attorney general from dealing in consumer debt-settlement services.
Cherry shared the land trust plan with Fidelity Land Trust operator Paul Gellenbeck in 2011, according to a deposition. Gellenbeck and Torgerson worked together at Fidelity, according to emails between the two in which Torgerson calls himself Fidelity’s vice president. And Vitale said Gellenbeck gave him the land trust business model.
Vitale is facing other legal trouble. He pleaded guilty last month to criminal charges that he obstructed justice and lied to investigators from the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission. His sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 9.” – Read the Full Story Here.