NJ real estate influencers accused in $2M apartment scam

Investors claim the couple disappeared with money after pitching 50-unit project

Cesar Pina and DJ Envy (Getty)
Cesar Pina and DJ Envy (Getty)

Two New Jersey real estate influencers and a prominent radio DJ have been accused of taking a $1.5 million investment for an apartment project that never materialized. 

Anthony Barone and Anthony Martini filed a lawsuit last week in New Jersey Supreme Court regarding the alleged fraud, NorthJersey.com reported. The pair are seeking compensatory, consequential and punitive damages.

Barone and Martini are accusing Cesar and Jennifer Pina, who post real estate projects and commentary on social media, of taking off with their combined investment for projects including the 50-unit Taylor Apartments slated for Main Street in Paterson.

In 2018, Barone heard DJ Envy of Power 105.1 talking about his partnership with the Pinas, a partnership on full display on Cesar Pina’s website. The partnership saw DJ Envy buy undervalued Paterson homes and flip or rent them, according to the lawsuit.

DJ Envy and the Pinas specifically pitched the pair of investors on the Taylor Apartments the following year, the investors claim. According to the lawsuit, Martini soon received a formation certificate and stock purchase agreement to buy 25 percent of the project, leaving the rest to Jennifer. 

Martini’s investment was earmarked for cost overruns and early operating expenses, according to the lawsuit. The Pinas are alleged to have claimed the project was funded with $2.5 million from Jennifer and $3.5 million in construction financing to cover the entire construction cost.

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Barone soon bought in as well, investing $500,000 for a 12.5 percent stake, half of Martini’s investment and stake, according to the lawsuit.

After forging Martini’s signature to confirm the addition, the Pinas then started giving the investors the runaround regarding construction progress, according to the suit, blaming factors such as the pandemic. So far, the only progress made was the pouring of the foundation, the investors say.

Martini began demanding his money back, while Barone claims he was lured to another venture with the Pinas involving fractional ownership, into which the lawsuit says he invested $300,000. 

Social media posts tipped Barone off to allegations that DJ Envy and the Pinas were running a Ponzi scheme. Neither investor has been paid back by the Pinas, who have an existing social media profile with content related to past flipping projects.

Holden Walter-Warner

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