The Investor’s Watchdog

The Investor's Watchdog

Scheme Bilks Retirees and Contributes to Neighborhood Blight

Friday, October 25, 2013

In a city with plenty of financial woes, a big Detroit property firm has been accused of operating a multi-million dollar international Ponzi scheme. The firm, Metro Property Group, was the largest buyer of distressed homes in Detroit. It would grab up hundreds of rundown houses a year at foreclosure auctions and sell them for more than $40,000 each to international buyers. The overseas investors were lured by promises of 16-18% annual returns on houses occupied by tenants paying up to $1,050 a month. The houses were advertised as “fully remodeled and habitable” when, in reality, they were almost worthless.

The new homeowners would pay Metro Property to maintain the property and collect rent. The investors would then get billed for evictions that never happened, fined for housing violations and given estimates for exorbitant repairs. A group of overseas retirees that invested in these properties is suing the real estate group alleging racketeering and investment fraud. Just another reason not to buy an investment property sight unseen.

3 thoughts on “Scheme Bilks Retirees and Contributes to Neighborhood Blight

  1. Many of the houses that Metro Property conned investors into purchasing are now empty and in the derelict state they were in when purchased from Metro Property Group. The company will not purchase these houses back because they are practically worthless and completely un-rentable and so they bully and intimidate the scammed investors instead. The company have a hired hack called Darci McConnell whose job has been to get them press coverage in order to gain credibility for Metro Property, in particular Sameer Beydoun the CEO, and to launch vicious personal attacks on the plaintiffs who are bringing the lawsuit. Her comments have been passed on to the plaintiffs by various media sources who were not prepared to publish them. More lawsuits involving many more properties are currently being prepared. The fake evictions were carried out by Tarek Baydoun, a relative of Sameer Beydoun. He openly admits to having performed “hundreds of evictions every month'” on behalf of the company. Chris Picciurro was the Chief Accountant at the time the fake rental payments were being made. His company also made a fortune charging exorbitant sums to investors by filling out simple forms that leasing agents will usually do free of charge for their clients. Sameer Beydoun forged leases in order to fool the investors into believing there were tenants in the property. Unbeknown to Metro the investors, or their agents, went to the properties while they were under Metro’s so called management to see what the reality was. Some of the houses were uninhabitable and had clearly never been lived in and those that did have tenants were in a terrible state. One property was so bad it was under a demolition order but Metro had placed a vulnerable tenant in there. The real tenants, in those houses that were lived in, provided their genuine leases, also signed by Sameer Beydoun. These genuine leases showed that the rents were hundreds of dollars below the rents Metro were paying to the investors and the names on the forged leases were complete fabrications. In fact Kathy Messics of Metro Property had on occasions slipped up in correspondence to investors accidentally naming the real tenant rather than the fake tenants on the forged leases. Her clumsy attempts to cover her tracks when caught out in these lies are filed as evidence. The houses that had Section 8 tenants in them were later subjected to huge fines because of the condition the tenants were living in and the rents were in abatement. It is highly likely that this scam is still running as properties sold in late 2012 as ‘fully refurbished and tenanted’ have since sat empty and boarded up. Metro Property Group continue to try and gain favourable press, their latest campaign is trying to suggest that they are great for the community – in fact the opposite is true. There are in the region of 70 filed exhibits in the lawsuit which clearly detail the scam and show the threats made to the investors who discovered what was going on.

  2. Further evidence has been filed in this case which shows that Metro Property Group (Sameer Baydoun, Ali Baydoun, Makki) attempted to scam the investors, who have brought this lawsuit, for a second time at the end of last year. In 2012 the investors uncovered the scam Metro were operating and confronted them with it. The investors were fully aware of how serious the scam was and made it known that they had obtained the genuine leases which proved that the leases Beydoun had given them were forged. Beydoun and the others then engaged in an elaborate charade, which went on for months, in which they pretended that Metro were going to settle the matter out of Court – all the investors had asked for was their money back. Tarek Baydoun, attorney and family member, drew up complicated Settlement Agreements which after months of stalling Sameer Beydoun signed. However the investors realised that they had been duped again and that Beydoun and the others had never had any intention of honouring these legally binding documents. These Agreements are exhibited and clearly state that if not honoured the investors will seek legal recourse in the Courts. Instead of honouring these legal agreements Beydoun et al took the investors to the point of completion and then cut all contact with them. They then sent in an Attorney, James Allen, who began a systematic campaign against the investors which involved bullying, name calling, threatening and jeering. When it became very clear that there had never been any intention of these Agreements being honoured the investors informed all concerned that they would have no choice but to take the matter to Court. They never heard from anyone at Metro again.

    The attacks by Metro on the characters of the plaintiffs have been particularly vicious since this case was filed – most of the plaintiffs are retired and lost their life savings to this company. However it is well documented in the lawsuit that this kind of intimidation is how Metro operate.

    This company and its members thought they were above the law and that the investors were powerless because of the distances involved. They were wrong.

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