Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Single Mother Of Two Unwittingly Moves In, Pays $8K Deposit For Home In Foreclosure; Now Faces Boot; Slick Operator Who Pocketed Cash Dodges Media Camera, Denies All Accusations

In Kansas City, Missouri, WDAF-TV Channel 4 reports:

  • A young mom thought she was buying her dream home. But a few days after moving in, she learned the house was in foreclosure and her $8,000 deposit to Jim Daniels of Three Door Properties had disappeared.

    Angenette Hollins, a hard-working, single mom of two, put $8,300 down on a spacious southeast Kansas City ranch house. She described it as “a nice, large house that me and my children wouldn’t grow out of.”

    Or so she hoped. But days after moving in, Hollins got a letter in the mail saying her dream home was in foreclosure and would be sold on the courthouse steps.

    “My heart just dropped,” she said. “I didn’t what was going on with me and my kids. Where were we going to stay?”

    She called the attorney handling the foreclosure, who told her that her purchase of the home was never legal because the man who sold her the house had no authority to do so.

    Who was that man? Jim Daniels of Three Door Properties in Kansas City. Hollins called Daniels and demanded to know what went wrong with the sale.

    “I asked him when I sat down and met with him, ‘are you a con man? You can’t show me anything on this house,’” she recalled. “You say you own this house and you don’t own it, and you are holding on to my money.’”

    She said Daniels insisted he did own the home, but told her he would return her money, but only if she first moved out of the house. No longer trusting Daniels, she refused.

    She’s not the only person who doesn’t trust him.

    Lori Bath and her husband bought a house from Daniels in May. It still doesn’t have a working furnace despite Daniels’ repeated promises. Their attempts to reach Daniels are rarely successful. “We’ve called a lot,” said Bathe. “Every day, sometimes up to 20 times a day.”

    We tried to track down Jim Daniels, or anyone from Three Door Properties. The company operates out of a room in the back of this adult daycare center on Hickman Mills Road. But no one was there when we came calling. So we visited another address linked to the Three Door Properties, a private home, and left a business card. A few days later, Jim Daniels called us, declining to talk on camera and denying everything.(1)
For more, see Mom Fights to Keep Home Sold to Her Under Shady Circumstances.

(1) The business practice described in the story sounds similar to one that recently got a slick Detroit, Michigan-area real estate operator pinched by the Feds. See:
As a reminder to those who mistakenly assune that these apparent ripoff deals are nothing more than civil cases, it is clear that all the sophisticated paperwork in the world (ie. business/purchase contracts, leases, closing statements, etc.) isn't enough to permit scammers to insulate themselves from criminal prosecution when they target their victims with legitimate-looking business propositions when screwing their victims over. Criminal prosecutors have the authority to "pierce through" such attempts to disguise a blatant criminal real estate ripoff as a common, legitimate business deal.
Clear precedent exists for such a "pierce through" approach to overcome any objections that will certainly arise when the scammers make the argument that the arrangement was just a civil transaction that, if challenged, should be done with a civil lawsuit, not a criminal prosecution. See, for example:
  • People v. Frankfort, (1952) 114 Cal.App.2d 680, 700; 251 P.2d 401:

    The simple answer to this argument is that "The People prosecuting for a crime committed in relation to a contract are not parties to the contract and are not bound by it. They are at liberty in such a prosecution to show the true nature of the transaction." (People v. Chait, 69 Cal.App.2d 503, 519 [159 P.2d 445]; People v. McEntyre, 32 Cal.App.2d Supp. 752, 760 [84 P.2d 560]; People v. Jones, 61 Cal.App.2d 608, 620 [143 P.2d 726]; People v. Pierce, supra, p. 605.)

  • People v. Jones, (1943) 61 Cal.App.2d 608, 620 [143 P.2d 726]:

    Defendant argues that the deal with each "seller" was a civil transaction; [...] Cloaked in the draperies of his corporation and pretending to act in its behalf, he boldly approached his unsuspecting victims.


    Although each deal in its incipiency bore the color and trappings of a normal, civil contract, yet when subjected to a postmortem it exhaled the stench and disclosed the carcass of a fraud. (People v. Epstein, 118 Cal.App. 7, 10 [4 P.2d 555].) There appears no sign of good faith at any turn. Each taking and appropriation was a grand theft.

    The use of the corporate name and the promises made in accomplishing his purpose were a camouflage of such common variety that no excess of genius was required to discern the fraud. Parol evidence of all that occurred was admissible to show the intention of defendant. (People v. Robinson, 107 Cal.App. 211, 221 [290 P. 470].)

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