Another RE Scam to beware of...

Real Estate Agent with 1st Action Real Estate

Last week our local paper bestowed their 'Raspberry' award to a SoCal based attorney by the name of Michael T. Pines. Pines qualified for this award by virtue of the fact that his business model apparently involves advising clients who have been through foreclosure and been evicted from a home to break back into the home and set up residency. Of the four families he has recently convinced that his advice is sound, he has accompanied them to the house with attendant locksmith and whatever press he can scrounge up.

He garnered a couple headlines.

But most figured it for just what it appears to be - a scam based on the old 'produce the original document' scheme combined with his theory that since the bank has foreclosed and the underlying lien has been satisfied by the insurance company, the home has therefore been paid in full and the previous homeowner should be able to reclaim it and occupy it. Yeah, I know. But he's preying on unsophisticated and desperate people.

So a couple days ago a judge called him out for filing frivolous lawsuits and slapped him with a $16,000 judgment that he owes one of his clients for wasting their time and money. Today the 2nd family in Escondido who broke into their home to great fanfare a couple weeks ago, was unceremoniously dumped back out by the new owner of the house. According to Emiliano Bolanos, "The people that bought the house, they want to take it again." DUH

Now here's something that will surprise you - they haven't been able to get in touch with Mr. Pines! Yeah, go figure. Mr. Bolanos said he talked to Pines last week and was promised some paper from a judge saying they could stay but the attorney never called back. Another Pines client up in Simi Valley was evicted on Tuesday and was told by the attorney he would be there along with some private security to stop the eviction. He never showed there either. Perhaps it was because Pines had been arrested for vandalism and trespassing a few days before trying the scheme yet again in Newport Beach. (WSJ 10/15/10)

Turns out, according to The Californian, Mr. Pines himself is in bankruptcy. He also has seven of his own properties in foreclosure and lost his own battles to keep his own home by litigating against his lender. Oddly enough, he apparently hasn't broken back into his own homes - which include properties in Utah, Arkansas and his home and law building in CA. He also has two restraining orders against him in San Diego County for 'civil harassment after a hearing'. Sounds like a fun guy. 

Pines, who has had a law practice for over 30 years, switched to real estate law and investing in 2000. When the market headed south, and with his own personal business apparently tanking, Pines started doing seminars on strategic default, how to use Chapter 11 to your benefit and so forth. It is interesting to note that of the 70 or so cases he claims to represent, he hasn't won one, including his own. Most real estate attorneys scoff at this sham practice and frown on yet another 'professional' victimizing people who have already been cracked once. 

Funny thing is - nobody, including Mr. Pines, denies that his clients are deserving of foreclosure. There was no problem with the bank, they either bought way over their head, got caught in some other investment scheme that backfired, or simply ATM's every nickel out of their home at peak value. Oh, Pines believes that the basic banking model is unsound and fraudulent - but doesn't deny his clients were all waaaaay behind, several on homes worth a million or more. 

Meanwhile, Mr. Bolanos, remember him?. The Bolanos family is now living with the Rochas family, another victim of Pines who referred Pines to Bolanos. Bolanos says "They haven't called me yet. I'm waiting for their call."

Good luck on that Emiliano. If I were you and he actually does call, I probably wouldn't take it. Way less trouble for you and your family - although you might get a friendly judge to force Pines to cough up a few more grand for your troubles. 

Folks, I know you're desperate out there but if the deal sounds too good to be true... if it sounds flaky and shaky and full of crap, go with your gut. Chances are you'll thank yourself later. Unless you're a professional victim and enjoy it, USE YOUR DAMN HEADS PEOPLE. After all, there's a sucker born every minute and two grifters to fleece him. 

Of course that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.

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The opinions in this commentary are strictly Gene Wunderlich's personal opinions. While any reasonable and/or rational indivdual should agree wholeheartedly, the opinons reflected herein may not necessarily be those of the Southwest Riverside County AOR,  or any local or state government or other mental institution.


Re-Blogged 4 times:

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Bob Souza (925) 513-3400 & Leilani Souza (916) 408-5500 Souza Realty - Real Estate Broker in Placer County, California
Souza Realty - Roseville, Rocklin, Granite Bay, Loomis, Penryn, Newcastle, Lincoln, Auburn, Meadow Vista (Placer Coun... - Roseville, CA
Homes & Land, Real Estate Investments and Rentals

Gene, THANK YOU for this excellent post! I'm going to spread the word by re-blogging it. :)


Oct 30, 2010 11:00 AM #50
Ken's Home Team LLC. | 360.609.0226 | Portland, OR & Vancouver, WA Real Estate Team
Ken's Home Team LLC. - Vancouver, WA

great Post, I have heard this thing where people are askign the banks to show the original papers for the home and whey they can you can wipe the loan free... Its amazing how some people grab at straws when they can....

Oct 30, 2010 11:17 AM #51
Barbara Altieri
RealtyQuest/Kinard Realty Group, Fairfield and New Haven County CT Real Estate - Shelton, CT
REALTOR-Fairfield County CT Homes/Condos For Sale

Gene -- what a travesty this is! These vultures who prey on unsuspecting individuals who place their trust in them should be punished severely under the law.  That $16K judgment is not nearly enough.

Oct 30, 2010 11:59 AM #52
Maria Borci
Colfax Realty Group - Doral, FL
P.A., TRC, REO - Doral Pinecrest FL Real Esta

Nowadays you can't believe in anoybody, sucks

Oct 30, 2010 12:39 PM #53
Lane Bailey
Century 21 Results Realty - Suwanee, GA
Realtor & Car Guy

This is definitely a re-blog.  These BS scams are popping up all of the time and they have just enough "truth" in them to sound legit to someone that is desperate and really wants to believe it. 

Oct 30, 2010 03:21 PM #54
Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Condo Realty, 386-405-4408 - Daytona Beach, FL
Buy Daytona condos for heavenly good prices


i came from Lane's reblog. What a story...

You wrote so well, thanks.

Oct 30, 2010 03:35 PM #55
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

How much did he charge these poor people?  However, if the banks do not get these vacant homes sold and if the keep holding back on the foreclosures we could see more issues with squaters.

Oct 30, 2010 03:36 PM #56
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

It's unfortunate that desperate people are willing to try almost anything to save their homes and that some people will try to take advantage of this.

Oct 30, 2010 04:58 PM #57
Fred Griffin
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

The Attorney Mr. Pines is over the top; his theatrics and showmanship will only bring further grief to these hurting families.

But that is a different issue from the Criminal Conspiracy by Big Banks, and their Legions of Attorneys, who have falsified documents and shown utter contempt for the Judicial System and Due Process of Law in every state of The Union.

Bank Attorneys who hired "Robo-Signers" to sign affidavits swearing that they the Attorney had reviewed all documents, when in fact they have not, should be held in Criminal Contempt.  (How about you or I signing a sworn affidavit and presenting it to a Judge, when we know it to be a lie?   Should we able to just walk away?). 

The Banks selling Notes and Mortgages "as securities", via MERS and other systems, without paying Documentary Stamps and Intangible Taxes that are due to the States and the Counties, is Grand Theft on a colossal scale.  (Not my opinion; 50 State Attorneys have taken up the matter).

America's Pledge of Allegiance refers to "Justice for All".   Let Mr. Pines get the Justice due him.  But let's not allow the Congress or the Administration to give Big Banks and their Attorneys a free walk on this.  Make sure those Lawyers get the Justice that is due to them.


Oct 30, 2010 05:39 PM #58
Ryan Case
Pacific Servicing - Temecula, CA

Geez, there are a lot of scams out there! How terrible!!!

Oct 30, 2010 05:48 PM #59
David Zuckerman
Millennial Home Loans, LLC - Sykesville, MD
Mortgage Broker - Low-to-no downpayment mortgages

Another arrogant attorney.

Oct 30, 2010 06:37 PM #60
Jim Hale
Eugene Oregon's Best Home Search Website

Some lawyers are graduates of the Junk Yard Dog School of Law.

Oct 30, 2010 07:44 PM #61
Frank Castaldini
Coldwell Banker - San Francisco, CA
Realtor - Homes for Sale in San Francisco

Now I must say.  I really enjoyed reading this post.  Desperate times call for desperate actions.  How do you ruin a career?  Just follow Mr. Pines easy steps to oblivion.

Oct 31, 2010 03:11 AM #62
Barbara Hensley
RE/MAX Properties - Rockwall, TX
Homes for Sale in Rockwall County, Texas

Scary post for ths Halloween morning!  I think you are right on and thanks for sharing this scam.   

Oct 31, 2010 03:16 AM #63
Scott Haigh

Wow! Fantastic post... what an eye-opener!

Oct 31, 2010 03:34 AM #64
Gene Wunderlich
1st Action Real Estate - Murrieta, CA
Realtor & Legislative Liaison

Fred - I agree the banks have culpability on many levels here but that's the subject of many other posts on here. I can't solve all the real estate problems before breakfast.

Timeliness is a major issue. We have homes sitting for months in limbo - owners moved out but bank either hasn't foreclosed yet or haven't listed it yet - way too much of that. We've had several cases of people breaking in, changing the locks and then renting the property to others taking a first and last months deposit and then disappearing. We're also tracking a case right now where people not only broke in but got utilities turned on, held open houses and actually sold several properties to legitimate buyers who subsequently faced eviction when the bank who owned it finally got around to doing something. The title companies and law firms are busy trying to figure out how that happened and what went wrong in the process,

Some of these people are so creative and entrepreneurial they would probably do quite well if they pursued a legitimate business.

Oct 31, 2010 08:53 AM #65
Lenn Harley
Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate - Leesburg, VA
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland

This is merely the "scam de jour". 

Tough times brings the opportunists and snake salesmen out.  They prey on the helpless and unsophisticated.

It's like human nature causes folks in need to emmit some special signal "I'm distressed" and out comes "Dirty John." 

Always has been and always will be.  Of course, compared to the Wall Street Gangs and their corrupt partners in crime on Capitol Hill, guys like Atty. Pines are small potatoes and many will get prosecuted.  

The Wall Street gangs get government handouts, some of which they can "share" with their friends on Capitol Hill.


Oct 31, 2010 09:45 AM #66
Greg Cook

And the Bolanos paid Mr. Pines $5000 for the privilege of being evicted from their home again!

Nov 01, 2010 07:58 AM #67
Brian Morgenweck
Power Realty Group, LLC Bergen County, NJ - Hackensack, NJ
Broker/Owner, GRI, CRS, ABR, SRS

I'm late to this party, huh?

Sooo...Pines went 70 for 70? At least he's consistent!

What a dirt bag! (or substitute something else for "dirt")

All the best, Gene!

Nov 07, 2010 10:20 AM #68

Self-proclaimed "foreclosure relief" and "foreclosure expert" attorney MICHAEL T. PINES WAS DEFEATED YET AGAIN (no surprise here).

Michael T. Pines just had ANOTHER of his own foreclosed properties taken away from him days ago. Michael T. Pines lost his law firm office building. FORECLOSED. BANKRUPT. EVICTED. BYE-BYE NOW.

That's right, egomaniac Michael T. Pines keeps getting kicked off the soapbox and pedestal he's put himself on by judges and COMPETENT lawyers (you might want to hire one of them, Pines).  Michael T. Pines was EVICTED from his office building on 1.14.11.

Good Riddance! Say the neighbors and tenants of Michael T. Pines, as well as: "Don't let the door hit you on the rear on your way out of Encinitas" you blow hard.

Pines, you've been taking money from the tenants and RENT SKIMMING for almost 2 YEARS!  Not to mention your poor clients.  Hey Pines, you should know this as an attorney, and LISTEN UP STATE BAR OF CALIFORNIA:

THAT'S A VIOLATION OF California Civil Code 890 (a) and 890 (b) and 892 (a).

Oh, and 1 more interesting fact:  WHY isn't Michael T. Pines breaking into his own foreclosed properties as he's advising his clients to do? There are 6 to choose from.  He told Fox and Friends on Monday 01/17/11 (video is online) that he has a LEGAL OBLIGATION to tell his clients to break back into the home.  He further lies and says the State of California finds nothing wrong with this and supports him.  Funny, he's being interviewed by a State Bar of California investigator this week to investigate complaints against him.

Sounds like Michael T. Pines is a bit of a hypocrite (or wimp). He's advising clients to break into THEIR foreclosed homes and squat, but Michael T. Pines is NOT willing to break into his OWN recently foreclosed office building which held his law practice and squat there - AND THE QUESTION IS: WHY?   Oh, do tell, Pines.


Jan 20, 2011 05:16 PM #69
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Gene Wunderlich

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