Real estate investor Matt Onofrio accused of bank fraud

Wisconsin man described as “a wolf in sheep’s clothing”

A photo illustration of real estate investor Matt Onofrio (Getty, Wild Moose Ventures)

A photo illustration of real estate investor Matt Ornofrio (Getty, Wild Moose Ventures)

Sometimes rising stars come crashing down to earth.

Such is the case with Matt Onofrio, a former Wisconsin nurse anesthetist who quit his job in 2020 to focus on real estate and is now facing charges of bank fraud in connection with multiple deals he arranged in Minnesota, Insider reported.

Onofrio is accused of convincing buyers to purchase properties at inflated prices, while he had already bought them at lower prices. He would then help the buyers secure mortgages based on the higher prices and offer to cover the down payment himself, in exchange for monthly repayments with interest, allowing him to profit from the price difference and put the buyers at risk of financial strain.

One of his victims, mixed martial arts star Michael Chandler, purchased a property for $16 million, only to discover later that Onofrio had bought it for $12 million and charged him a $4 million markup. 

“Michael didn’t expect Matt was setting up this deal out of the goodness of his heart,” Brendan Johnson, Chandler’s attorney, told the outlet. “But he certainly didn’t appreciate that there would be a $4 million swing.”

In November 2022, Onofrio was indicted by federal prosecutors for alleged bank fraud. Prosecutors say Onofrio created fake purchase agreements to deceive banks and lend clients money without disclosing it to the banks. The government has frozen Onofrio’s bank account, and a trial date is yet to be set.

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While Chandler’s case isn’t a part of the criminal indictment, a former employee at Onofrio’s company Wild Moose Ventures told Insider that Onofrio had about $400 million in deals in the two years leading up to his arrest. 

Onofrio’s unassuming nature — plus a pitch in which he showed his bank account holding millions of dollars — led at least some investors to let their guards down.

Matthew Hermann, who said he lost $200,000 so far on a $6.3 million warehouse purchase from Onofrio, said Onofrio was “a wolf in sheep’s clothing” who told Hermann “I would always look out for you.”

“Matt checked all the right boxes,” Hermann told the outlet. “If you present yourself the right way, how are most people supposed to know?” 

Ted Glanzer