Saturday, December 19, 2009

Stealing a Church! Robert Shumake Reveals Real Estate Scammer

Here is an articl I found about someone who tried to steal and sell a church!

Detroiter who tried to sell church guilty of fraud

George Hunter / The Detroit News

Detroit -- A man involved in a complicated scam to sell a church he didn't own has been found guilty on 11 counts of fraud.

Tracy Carmichael, 46, of Detroit in 2007 offered to sell the Temple of God Deliverance on Mount Elliot to a woman who was interested in the property as a land investment.

The scam involved Carmichael finding a "straw buyer" with good credit to take out a mortgage on the church property, said Abed Hammoud, head of the Deeds and Mortgage Fraud Unit, a task force involving the Wayne County Prosecutor's, Sheriff's and Register's offices.

"Carmichael got a quit claim deed without the knowledge of the real owner," Hammoud said. "Then he got the victim to take out a $149,500 mortgage on the property. She thought she was doing it to help out the church."

Carmichael told the woman he would handle all of the paperwork, manage the property and send payments to the mortgage company, though his firm, Media Financial.
Pastor Robert Lodge, who owned the property, later found out that the deed to the church and other documents were false. Lodge never authorized Carmichael to sell the property and discovered his signatures had been forged on the documents.

Lodge only became aware of the crime when his congregation was served eviction papers because they hadn't paid the mortgage.

"I lost my life's work," Lodge said. "I built a ministry for the last 16 years, and it literally was stripped from me. Not only did I lose property and money, but I've lost my church family. We're not set up anywhere else because of the financial hardship this has caused."

Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon said Carmichael had "a moral compass so low he schemed to sell a house of worship. Now the woman is out (her money), and the congregation is on the street."

Carmichael was found guilty of embezzlement over $100,000; four counts of forgery; four counts of uttering & publishing; false pretenses over $20,000; and money laundering 2nd degree. He was remanded to the Wayne County Jail until his Jan. 5 sentencing date.

Hammoud said the scam is common.

"Unfortunately, we see it all the time," he said. "It's fairly easy to get a quit claim deed without the property owner's knowledge. They find a victim who is naïve and has good credit, and get them to take a mortgage out on the property. This is all done without the real property owner's knowledge; then they start getting bills from the bank about paying a mortgage they know nothing about."

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