Vegas homeowner's association scam is busted

Four women began investigating 
where all the bodies were buried.

Before the real estate market collapsed, there was a building boom in Las Vegas, Nevada. Since so many homes were built so quickly, there was also a rise in lawsuits against shoddy construction by developers.

A group of fraudsters figured out a way to exploit it.

These scammers would buy condominiums in a community, transfer part of the ownership to people they controlled, and then have those "straw buyers" run for leadership of the homeowner's association.

They would get themselves elected using dirty tricks, sometimes completely rigging the election.

Then, once in office, they'd file lawsuits and win money to fix the problems, with all the legal fees and construction work going to their gang.

Wanda Murray, aged 65, lived in Vistana, one community targeted by the criminals:
Murray first sensed trouble the following October, when the Vistana held its annual board election. The results were surprising. Two newcomers, an ex-cop and a union foreman, won spots on the board. It was odd, if only because nobody recalled seeing much of either man around the neighborhood. Shortly after, the two appointed another stranger to a vacant position.

In Nevada, state law requires that to serve on a homeowner association board, an individual must own property in the development. On a hunch, Murray and a group of her neighbors pulled some property records. As it turned out, the newest appointee had recently purchased a mere 0.5 percent of a single condo at the Vistana. Digging around a little bit, the Vistana residents claim they found records that the new board members were employees of Silver Lining Construction.

Murray wasn’t sure why somebody who didn’t actually live in a condo community would want to serve on its unpaid board. It seemed suspicious. In the weeks to come, Murray, along with three other like-minded ladies at the Vistana, formed a kind of amateur detective agency. They searched state property records. They dug deep into Google search results. They even did the occasional stakeout. The more they investigated, the more arrows they found pointing to Silver Lining Construction.
They went to the police. They tried a recall election, but the votes were tampered with. They had another recall election and the new board lost but refused to step down. They went to court but multiple lawyers were available to defend the new board.

Until the FBI raid...

Read the whole story, which also details an attorney's alleged arson and suicide attempt to avoid prosecution, offshore bank accounts, distant mob connections and broken kneecaps:

Read: Las Vegas real estate scam goes bust, Today News, Bloomberg Businessweek>>

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