A 2013 press release from “Investors Workshops, a top-rated real estate investment networking group located in Orange County, California” announced that the entity was celebrating its ten-year anniversary by making its “real estate investing workshops available to the general public” for the first time, and that, not only that, it would be offering “two years” of educational real estate materials for free. If that sounds too good to be true, it was. The free seminars offered by the founders of Investors Workshops – Angel Bronsgeest and Shawn Watkins – were used to solicit victims enter into a real estate investment ponzi scheme orchestrated by the two individuals which resulted in millions in losses from investors across Orange County. In late January, Bronsgeest pled guilty to a federal wire fraud charge in connection with the scheme and Watkins, who surrendered to the FBI last fall, faces nine counts of wire fraud, mail fraud, and money laundering charges.
How the Real Estate Fraud Scheme Worked
To carry out their scheme, Bronsgeest and Watkins formed an entity called The Equity Growth Group (TEEG). At their Investors Workshops seminars held at various hotels across Orange County, the two individuals told guests that they could invest their funds with TEEG which they claimed owned hundreds of rent-generating properties and which would continue to acquire properties.
Potential investors were told they would receive payments on their investments from rent income, but in actuality TEEG was not amassing new properties and was operating at a negative cash flow. While some existing investors did receive payments on their investments, these payments were funded by money flowing into TEEG from additional investors, thus making TEEG a class ponzi scheme. All in all, investors lost $3.5 million in the scheme.
Civil Remedies for Real Estate Fraud
Bronsgeest faces 20 years in federal prison while Watkins faces up to 180 years in federal prison. In addition to criminal penalties, perpetrators of real estate fraud can be required to pay civil damages to the victims of their fraud. Although in some cases of wide-ranging criminal fraud, the perpetrators are not necessarily in a position to financially reimburse their victims, there are often third parties who may have facilitated the fraud and who could be liable to victims. Talk to a real estate fraud attorney about potential civil claims you might have in connection with real estate fraud.
Work With an Experienced Los Angeles Real Estate Fraud Litigator
Whether you are considering legal action against a seller, buyer, broker, or agent, it is important to work with an experienced real estate litigation attorney who can evaluate your circumstances and bring your best case for relief. The Los Angeles real estate fraud attorneys at the Wagenseller Law Firm have the experience to evaluate your case and work to obtain the outcome you deserve. Contact the Wagenseller Firm today to schedule a consultation.