Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Cops Bag R/E Operator Accused Of Duping Strapped Homeowners Into Signing Away Deeds To Avoid Foreclosure, Then Looked To Flip Them On Craigslist

In Brooksville, Florida, WTVT-TV Channel 13 reports:

  • Authorities have arrested a man they say scammed homeowners with promises of rescuing their homes from foreclosure. Gaetano Antonelli, 62, was arrested on June 27 at his house in Hernando County and was charged with organized fraud amounting to less than 20,000.

    Investigators say that Antonelli targeted homeowners under financial pressure with foreclosure proceedings looming over their heads. They say he lured one set of victims by assuring them he could rescue their homes from foreclosure; and he approached another set of victims as a home seller advertising properties for sale on Craigslist. The sheriff's office says the victims were in Hernando and Citrus counties.

    Reports say Antonelli deceived his victims into signing the deed of their property over to him by an attorney so he could save them from their mortgage. Once he falsely received the deed to the property, he ran an ad on Craigslist, trying to sell the property that was not legally in his name.

    His victims were suspicious of his activities and reported him to authorities. When Antonelli was interviewed by detectives, reports say he told them that "mortgages are not legally binding contracts and are a scam backed by the federal government."

    Detectives believe that there may be more victims out there. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Hernando County Sheriff's Office at 352-754-6830.
See also: Hernando Today: Home sales fraud alleged:
  • June and Robert Nestlerode didn't waste time moving into their new home off Naomi Drive. They signed on the dotted line — after meeting the home seller in a parking lot off U.S. 19 — and wrote him a check for $73,000.

    The next day they moved in belongings. Then they spent $3,000 on a new roof, bought homeowners insurance, purchased an air-conditioning unit, had landscaping done and installed a fence.

    Unbeknownst to them, the house was in foreclosure. The man they purchased it from duped them — and duped the previous owner into thinking he was going to sue the mortgage company on her behalf and make her a large sum of money, according to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.

    Authorities in Hernando and Citrus counties said they have connected the devious home seller to three schemes — and they are still investigating to see whether others have been victimized.

    Gaetano Antonelli, 62, was arrested on three counts of organized fraud. He was booked June 27 at the Hernando County Jail and released later that day after posting $17,300 bail.

    The house Antonelli sold to the Nestlerodes was owned by Chauna Adorni, who was interviewed by economic crimes detectives, according to sheriff's office reports. Adorni, who according to deputies had gone through difficulties in her personal life and could no longer make the payments on her home, saw an advertisement for mortgage rescue and called the listed number. Antonelli answered, deputies said.

    Adorni agreed to meet Antonelli — in the same parking lot off U.S. 19 — and several documents were signed, according to sheriff's reports. Detectives said they acquired copies of the paperwork, including power of attorney, a warranty deed and a compliance agreement.

    Adorni said Antonelli promised he would sue the mortgage company and get a large settlement. "Chauna advised that (the suspect) never mentioned to her that he was going to sell the property to anybody else and advised that if she knew those were his intentions, that she would never have entered into any agreement with him," wrote Detective Dustin Mormando in his report.

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