George Santos’ alleged Ponzi scheme victimized RE agent

Congressperson has denied knowledge of Harbor City Capital fraud

Representative George Santos
Representative George Santos (Illustration by Ilya Hourie for The Real Deal with Getty)

Before George Santos was a duplicitous congressperson, he was allegedly one of the figures behind a Ponzi scheme that ensnared at least one member of the real estate industry.

George Santos served as Harbor City Capital’s New York regional director for more than a year, the Washington Post reported. In April 2021, the SEC filed a suit against the company, claiming it defrauded investors of millions in a Ponzi scheme. The case was stayed because the same subject is under criminal investigation.

Santos has denied any knowledge of fraud by Harbor City. He has apologized for embellishing his resume, but has withstood calls to resign from the House of Representatives.

At Harbor City, which was selling securities, one of Santos’ alleged victims was Al Conard, a 60-year-old Minnesota real estate agent who was pitched by “George Devolder” and J.P. Maroney, the firm’s founder. Conard claims he lost $50,000 in Harbor City. Conard contacted Maroney on LinkedIn in April 2022, he said, demanding an explanation on where his money went.

Maroney has denied the SEC allegations, while the company itself has yet to respond in court.

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In one real estate adjacent narrative, Santos claimed during a 2020 meeting that he accidentally flipped a table onto Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman. A Blackstone spokesperson said Schwarzman doesn’t remember the incident or even meeting Santos. It was not the only time Santos seemingly invented a relationship with a high-level executive.

“I’m targeting people who know who I am,” Santos said on a recording of how he pitches investors, a statement that has proven to be quite ironic. Other tactics Santos allegedly deployed to woo investors included throwing them lavish dinners and inflating his personal credentials.

Shortly after Santos was elected to the House of Representatives, a New York Times investigation into his claim of owning 13 rental properties found no proof of his real estate holdings, but multiple instances of him facing eviction.

— Holden Walter-Warner