PHOENIX (CN) – An Arizona man has been accused of operating an “equity-stripping scheme that defrauded hundreds of Arizona homeowners.” Richard Winer allegedly duped homeowners into signing over the deeds to their homes in exchange for a leaseback option. He then quickly resold the homes to investors for a commission, leaving many homeowners still facing foreclosure when they couldn’t make the payments, the state attorney general claims in Maricopa County Court.
When the original homeowner couldn’t repurchase the home, the investors sold the property at market value, according to the lawsuit.
“Virtually all properties were sold to investors within two weeks of purchase,” the lawsuit claims. “Few, if any, original homeowners were ultimately able to repurchase their homes.”
Arizona Attorney Gen. Terry Goddard filed suit against Winer; his wife, Colleen; and the companies Taken Care of Investments, Homeowners Solutions, Bourbon Street Property Management and Filibuster.
Winer allegedly made more than 400 sale-leaseback transactions between 2003 and 2007, targeting homeowners who were within days of losing their homes.
The transactions usually took place in the homeowner’s house or at a coffee shop, the lawsuit claims, and the homeowner’s mortgage company did not know about the change in ownership.
The complaint accuses Winer of acting as an unlicensed broker, and violating the Consumer Fraud Act and the Arizona Debt Management Companies Act.