Randy Poulson, 44, Woolwich Township, New Jersey admitted scamming distressed homeowners into giving him their houses and then soliciting fake real estate investments from private investors – secured by those same properties – that netted him more than $3 million in illicit profits. He pled guilty to Count One of an indictment charging him with mail fraud.
According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court:
Poulson owned and operated Equity Capital Investments, LLC and Poulson Russo LLC and was the former president of the South Jersey Real Estate Investors Association. Paulson gave speeches, seminars, monthly dinners and various private tutorial sessions, purporting to teach real estate investing tips to individuals who paid fees to attend.
Poulson engaged in a two-pronged scheme. First, he promised to pay the mortgages of distressed homeowners facing foreclosure if they sold their homes to him. Using this method, Poulson obtained the deeds to more than 25 distressed homeowners’ residences, causing them to vacate the homes so renters could move in. Afterwards, Poulson stopped making the monthly mortgage payments, causing those mortgages to go into foreclosure without the distressed homeowners’ knowledge.
In the second part of the scheme, Poulson solicited seminar attendees and other private investors to invest in Equity Capital Investments, which purportedly bought and sold real estate. Poulson told the investors that their money would be used to acquire and rehabilitate a property, which Poulson claimed he would rent out and then sell for a 10 to 20 percent return on the investment.
The properties for which Poulson solicited the investments were those he acquired in the first part of the scheme. Although Poulson claimed that he would use funds to acquire and rehabilitate those properties, Poulson spent the money on personal expenses and to repay other investors. As a result of the scheme, Poulson was able to fraudulently obtain more than $3 million from investors.
The mail fraud count to which with Poulson pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gain or loss from the offense. Sentencing is scheduled for October 2, 2015.
U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Richard M. Frankel, in Newark, New Jersey for the investigation leading to the plea.
The government is represented by Attorney in Charge R. Stephen Stigall of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Camden, New Jersey.