Two South Florida properties that were allegedly part of a wide-ranging debt relief scheme that scammed 15,000 investors out of $85 million will be auctioned off this week.
The auction on Wednesday seeks to refund money to victims of the scheme led by Jeremy Marcus, Craig Davis Smith and Yisbet Segrea, who allegedly convinced people to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars a month by falsely promising to resolve their debts and improve their credit scores, according to the Federal Trade Commission. The trio used more than 30 companies to engage in this scheme including Financial Freedom National Inc., Marine Career Institute Sea Frontiers, 321 Loans, Instahelp America, and Helping America Group.
The victims eventually found out that their debts were unpaid, their accounts were in default and their credit scores were lower, forcing some victims into bankruptcy, according to the FTC.
Marcus, Smith and Segrea eventually settled with the FTC in April 2018 and agreed to pay $35 million in assets.
The FTC required Marcus, the ringleader, to surrender about two dozen residential properties; a 2015 Range Rover; a 2015 BMWi; a 5.03 carat diamond ring; Rolex, Audemars Piguet, and Louis Vuitton watches; rare coins; a bottle of 1969 Duncan Taylor single malt scotch whisky; and other assets. The three defendants were headquartered in Pompano Beach.
Jonathan E. Perlman of Genovese Joblove & Battista, the court appointed receiver, said he has sold 23 properties so far and recovered $16.3 million.
The two properties to be auctioned off Wednesday are: a 2,209-square-foot townhouse in Boynton Beach at 80 Nottingham Place, in which bids will start at $255,000; and a 0.35-acre vacant waterfront property in West Palm Beach at 3716 Embassy Drive, in which bids will start at $140,000.
The auction will take place at 11 a.m. at the offices of Genovese Joblove & Battista law firm at 200 East Broward Boulevard, Suite 1110, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Perlman is also suing PNC Bank for allegedly aiding and abetting the scheme. He alleges a PNC bank employee directed clients toward Marcus’s fraudulent companies, according to the suit.