Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Carmel on the Case: Investors
Investors beware. As the economy goes down, authorities say the number of bogus investments goes up. In tonight's Carmel on the case, how police are investigating one woman's claim that she lost her son's college money.
WSVN -- Florida leads the nation in mortgage fraud. As a result, there are a massive number of foreclosed properties on the market.
Arma Gilead: "She said, 'Arma, sometimes they're dirt cheap.'"
So, Arma Gilead says it made sense when a friend told her they could make big money buying foreclosures. Arma says she first met Carla Ortiz while at work as a gift wrapper in a local department store.
Arma Gilead: "She came in a lot. She dropped off packages, and there were some days during the week that it was kind of slow that we were able to chat."
Arma says they became friends. Here's Carla at a birthday party Arma threw for her. She says Carla convinced her they could make big money buying foreclosed properties.
Arma Gilead: "Because she said, 'Arma, we're gonna be some rich bitches.'"
But she says the closest she ever got to a house was some pictures printed off the Internet.
Arma Gilead: "Over $100,000 I gave her."
Carmel Cafiero: "And what did you get for your money?"
Arma Gilead: "I haven't gotten anything."
Carmel Cafiero: "Zip?"
Arma Gilead: "Zip."
Carmel Cafiero: "Zero?"
Arma Gilead: "Zero."
The money was from her son's college fund and a loan. When she asked for a refund, she says Carla said, sure, in 14 days.
Carmel Cafiero: "How many days have you been waiting?"
Arma Gilead: "Oh, give me a break, it's been almost running in a year."
And that's what brought us to Carla's Fort Lauderdale home.
Carmel Cafiero: "I recognize you from your picture. Carla, Carmel Cafiero from Channel Seven. I'd like to know what happened to the $100,000 that Arma invested with you?"
Carla Ortiz: "What are you talking about?"
Carmel Cafiero: "You deny it?"
If given a chance, I would have also asked her about two of Arma's friends who say they gave Carla a total of $17,000 investments and also got nothing in return.
Arma Gilead: "She's done me a lot of harm, but I'm getting back."
Arma has filed a complaint with the Plantation Police Department.
Detective Phil Toman: "Carla Ortiz is currently being investigated by this agency for fraud."
And with the economy in such a terrible state, authorities now will no doubt be investigating more cases of alleged fraud across the country.
Bob Crespo, director for the State Office of Financial Regulation: "There's a direct relationship between the state of the economy and the amounts of scams and fraud that are out there hurting people."
Nobody knows that better than Arma.
Arma Gilead: "We were really close."
... who now realizes trusting her friend was a big mistake.
Arma Gilead: "There was always a story, and by me being so illiterate in real estate what am I to do? I just believed it."
Carmel Cafiero: "Now she believes authorities will be able to help her get her money back, but the sad fact is often when investments fail, legit or otherwise, money is usually gone for good."
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