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Articles Posted in Real Estate Investment Fraud

Non-Traded Real Estate Investment Trusts Are Risky, Illiquid 

If you are a retail investor in San Francisco whose broker is recommending that you invest in non-traded real estate investment trusts (non-traded REITs), you should strongly reconsider. 

While often touted as a security that allows investors to make money without having to worry about market volatility – this type of investment is actually still high risk, illiquid, and not suitable for many customers including retail investors, retirees, and other conservative investors with low-risk tolerance levels.

COVID-19 Causes This Mortgage REIT to Drop in Value  

If you lost money from investing in Granite Point Mortgage Trust (GPMT), you may be able to file a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitration claim against the broker and their brokerage firm that sold this real estate investment trust (REIT) to you. Unfortunately, shares of Granite Point Mortgage Trust plunged in March in the wake of COVID-19 and continued to drop.

Our REIT fraud lawyers at Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas (SSEK) are speaking with GPMT investors to help them explore whether they have grounds for a broker negligence case. 

For thirty years, Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas (SSEK Law Firm) has worked with investors seeking to recover losses they suffered because a broker and their broker-dealer sold them real estate investment trusts (REITs) that were too high risk for their portfolios. The unsuitability of REITs for many investors has come even clearer in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and its impact on many investments.  

REITs are not for every kind of investor and a stockbroker should only recommend them if the customer can handle the risks involved and these investments can help fulfill, rather than derail, the client’s goals. Contact our REIT fraud law firm today if you have suffered substantial losses involving your real estate investment trust that you suspect may have been caused by broker fraud or negligence. 

What Are REITs?

Advisor Group Suspends Real Estate Investment Product Sales

Another brokerage firm has temporarily stopped selling real estate products due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has causing valuation issues. Advisor Group’s decision to suspend the sales of real estate interval funds and NAV real estate investment trusts (NAV REITs) comes soon after another independent brokerage-dealer (IBD), LPL Financial, announced that it was suspending its sales of a number of nontraded REITs and publicly traded property interval funds. 

The temporary cessations are counter to what IBDs did prior to the 2008 economic crisis when they sold a lot of real estate investments that were illiquid. These investments later saw their prices take a nosedive at great cost to investors. 

Preferred Apartment Communities Investors Pay High Commissions

Throughout the United States, our non-traded real estate investment trust (REIT) attorneys at Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas (SSEK Law Firm) are speaking to investors whose registered brokers or investment advisors persuaded them to invest in Preferred Apartment Communities, which is a non-traded REIT. 

This investment has paid stockbrokers up to 7% commission and comes with additional fees, including around 4-5% in brokerage firm fees and offering costs. 

A $60M settlement has been reached between The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and AR Capital, the real estate investment trust (REIT) manager’s founder Nicholas Schorsch, and American Realty Capital Properties Inc. (ARCP) ex-CFO Brian Block. The three of them are accused of “wrongfully obtaining” millions of dollars related to two mergers involving REITS that AR Capital managed and sponsored.

According to the regulator’s complaint, between the latter part of 2012 and the beginning of 2014, AR Capital took steps so that ARCP, a publicly traded REIT, would merge with American Realty Capital Trust III and American Realty Capital Trust IV, two non-traded REITS that were publicly held. Schorsch was the principal owner and CEO of all three REITs during the time of the merger, while Block was the CFO and a minority shareholder.

The Commission contends that without their board’s permission, the REIT manager, Schorsch, and Block “inflated an incentive fee” during the mergers, which made it possible for them to get another $2.92M in ARCP operating partnership units as a portion of their “incentive-based” compensation.” The SEC is also accusing the three defendants of “wrongfully obtaining” at least $7.2M in charges that were not supported from the sale and asset purchase agreements that were related to the mergers.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission has filed fraud charges against Phillip Michael Carter, Bobby Eugene Guess, Richard Tilford, and several entities accusing them of operating a multi-million dollar offering fraud. The regulator contends that the three men raised nearly $45 million from more than 270 investors in the US through the sale of high-yield, short-term promissory notes that were touted to prospective buyers as low-risk.

According to the SEC, investors thought they were getting involved in actual real estate development companies but instead ended up buying securities from entities with no assets. Carter, who is the principal of North Forty Development LLC and Texas Cash Cow Investments, is accused of then misappropriating $1.2M in investor funds for his own expenses, including a personal IRS tax lien and to operate a luxury hunting ranch. He also allegedly made over $3M in Ponzi payments that were issued to investors.

Now, the defendants are accused of offering and selling unregistered securities, violating the Exchange Act and the Securities Act, and acting as unlicensed brokers. The entities that are relief defendants in the case include:

Man is Convicted in $2.2M Investment Fraud

A federal jury has convicted a Pennsylvania man on 16 counts of securities fraud, 12 counts of wire fraud, four counts of money laundering, one count of mail fraud, and one count of tax evasion in a $2.2M investment scam. Thomas H. Connerton is accused of defrauding 50 people, including several women that he met through online dating. He was the CEO, president, and founder of Safety Technologies, LLC.

Founded in 2006, Safety Technologies was supposed to develop and commercialize materials that were resistant to cuts and punctures and which could be used to make surgical gloves and related products. Starting in 2009, Connerton began persuading investors to buy securities in Safety Tech. The investments were not registered with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission is accusing Equitybuild Inc., a real estate investment firm that is based in Florida, and its owners of operating a $135M Ponzi scam that defrauded approximately 900 investors. The regulator contends that the company, its President/CEO Jerome Cohen, and Vice President Shaun Cohen, who are father and son, promised investors double-digit returns of 12-20%, even as their business was incurring massive losses. Meantime, investors were paid returns using earlier investors’ money in Ponzi-like fashion.

Equitybuild investors were mostly unsophisticated, non-accredited investors without much experience in investing in real estate. The Cohens allegedly touted a purportedly original strategy for identifying an undervalued property in Chicago, Illinois’ South Side that they claimed would render huge returns. Investors were promised promissory notes that named a specific property. Third parties were supposed to buy the properties with mortgages that the investors had funded and this would generate returns.

Unfortunately, there don’t appear to have been many third-party buyers. Equitybuild was the one that owned most of the properties and the real estate investment company purportedly stopped searching for third-party buyers a few years ago.

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