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Attorney General Files Charges against alleged con man accused of fraudulently collecting deposits on manufactured homes from consumers

September 7th, 2016 Comments off

NCAttorneyGeneralroy-cooperLaurinburgexchange-postedDailyBusinessNews-MHProNewsUsing the dream of homeownership to trick consumers out of their hard-earned money is just plain wrong,” North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said. “My office is here to protect consumers from these misleading and fraudulent business tactics.”

Cooper filed suit against George Henry Smith of Robeson County, for collecting payments from consumers who wanted to purchase manufactured homes, then failing to provide the homes as promised or return buyers’ money.

It was not immediately clear at press time if this is the same George Henry Smith which Atlas Public Records reports was a 64 year old charged on January 22, 2016 with “Assault On A Female,” also of Robeson County.

The attorney general’s offices stated that Smith showed prospective buyers manufactured homes he was not authorized to sell at Prevatte Home Sales, and at Terry Pate Home Sales in Lumberton.

Smith allegedly told consumers that he met via ads off property that he was a salesman, and when he arrived at the retail centers, Smith told the firm’s staff that he was an agent for the consumers.

Cooper’s office states that “Smith advertised used and repossessed manufactured homes to consumers at his workplace, mobile phone store Page Talk, and at other locations in the Robeson County area. Smith targeted consumers who spoke limited English, including using business cards written in Spanish.”

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The release states that, “Smith reportedly pressured consumers to sign phony purchase agreements and pay deposits as large as $9,800. When the manufactured homes failed to arrive as Smith promised, consumers contacted the sales lots and learned that the homes they thought were theirs had already been sold to someone else or had never been available for sale. Smith has refused to refund victims’ money, leaving several families unable to afford rent and forced to move in with relatives.”

Cooper’s statement has a problematic angle for honest manufactured home retailers, because it states that: “Before you put down money on a manufactured home, check out the dealer or agent thoroughly.”  But shouldn’t the same ‘buyer beware’ caution apply to the far more common scam of selling a conventional house to the unsuspecting and vulnerable consumers?

To get a sense of the scope of sheer volume of fake housing sales, USA Today reported that just one man in Detroit, MI fraudulently “sold” $18.5 million in houses; that man went to prison in 2015.

The attorney general’s pleadings asks the court to cancel all of the alleged bogus contracts buyers signed with Smith, to order Smith to pay refunds to consumers and $5,000 in civil penalties.

Cooper also asks the court that Smith be permanently barred from:

  • Engaging in unfair or deceptive business practices
  • Advertising or attempting to sell manufactured homes without a license
  • Accepting new orders or payments in North Carolina  ##

(Photo credit of attorney general Roy Cooper, LaurinburgExchange.)

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L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach is the publisher of MHProNews.com and MHLivingNews.com.

Submitted by L. A. “Tony” Kovach to the Daily Buisness News, MHProNews.

Fraudulent Manufactured and Modular Home Sellers Brought Down

June 4th, 2014 Comments off

Updating a story MHProNews published Aug. 13, 2013 regarding North Carolina-based Phoenix Housing Group (PHG) fraudulently selling over 1,000 manufactured and modular homes, several of the principals have been banned from the mortgage business and/or from the MH and modular industry, and fined, while others await sentencing. The charges involved deceiving consumers into buying overpriced manufactured homes (MH) and agreeing to loans they couldn’t afford based on falsified credit reports. NC Attorney General Roy Cooper originally filed suit in 2009 against Phoenix, K&B Homebuilders, and W.R. Starkey Mortgage, LLP of Plano, Texas who provided financing for the scheme, as well as several individuals.

Consumers were drawn in by promises of manufactured homes for $500 down, but at closing they were informed their monthly payment would be several hundred dollars more. If they balked, they could exit the deal by paying $2,000 to $5,000, more than most could afford, and many lost their homes. 165 victims who financed through Starkey received refunds of $26,000 each, totaling nearly $4.3 million.

Ike Vinson, a loan officer with Starkey, is banned from the mortgage industry in NC. Phoenix sales agent Dennis Setzer is banned from the factory-built home business in NC and must pay penalties of $125,000, $5,000 for each of the fraudulent deals he engineered. Former Phoenix sales agent Joe Herr was ordered to pay civil penalties totaling $220,000, $5,000 for each of the 44 fraudulent land/home packages he sold. Phoenix President Gary Lee Good is banned from the MH/Mod industry in NC for five years and is subject to a $100,000 fine if he violates the ban. Starkey is permanently barred from making loans when a manufactured housing dealer is a party to the transaction. According to jdnews.com, Cooper worked with the U. S. Attorney General’s office and with the Commissioner of Banks in breaking the case. ##

(Photo credit: thetimesnews.com–Burlington, North Carolina manufactured home)

Fraud Charges Levied against Manufactured Home Seller

June 26th, 2013 Comments off

A Shannon, North Carolina man has been charged with defrauding 45 people of $437,702 by not delivering manufactured homes they had purchased, and is in jail under a $800,000 secured bond. Bradley Malcolm McMillian, 38, is facing two counts of obtaining more than $100,000 worth of property by false pretense, nine counts of selling manufactured homes without a license, and obtaining property by false pretense. NC Attorney General Roy Cooper filed a lawsuit in June 2012 against McMillian, after 52 consumer complaints were filed about McMillian Properties. Banned by a consent judgment from doing business in Robeson County, the robesonian.com informs MHProNews McMillian has also been ordered to pay $100,000 in civil penalties.

(Photo credit: robesonian.com–Bradley Malcolm McMillian)

Company Banned from Dealing in Factory-built Homes

May 8th, 2013 Comments off

Robeson County, North Carolina manufactured home dealer McMillan Properties has been banned from doing business by Attorney General Roy Cooper for selling substandard homes and homes that were never delivered. According to what carolinalive tells MHProNews, 52 consumers in the Robeson County area have filed complaints against Bradley and Sherry McMillan who owe $359,015 as part of a consent judgment issued by Wake County Superior Court Judge Howard Manning. Cooper filed suit in June 2012 against the McMillans,”Tricking consumers into paying for homes that aren’t safe to live in is unfair and illegal,” Cooper said in a news release issued Wednesday. “Homebuyers who were treated wrong now have a chance to get some money back, and I encourage any consumer who may be eligible for a refund to file a complaint with my office today.” The couple so far has failed to repay any of the money. If they violate the ban they will owe $100,000 in civil penalties.

(Image credit: HousingWire)