A two-woman team lied about vacant land they offered for sale and disappeared after victims wired a down payment. The online scam claimed more than 40 victims.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – One of two women accused of a crime that scammed Florida land investors will be serving jail time, according to Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody. She says the Office of Statewide Prosecution (OSP) secured a multi-year prison sentence for “a scammer that committed multiple white-collar crimes involving real estate and advertising property.”
Tabria Josey allegedly worked with an accomplice, Kiana Russell, according to NBC News2, but Moody’s settlement focused only on Josey. The online scam harmed more than 40 victims.
How the scam worked
Josey fraudulently listed undeveloped plots of land in Florida on multiple websites. The listing included a photo of the land, which the scammers never owned, and the ads promoted the property’s homebuilding or investment potential.
Once a potential buyer contacted Josey or her accomplice, she convinced a victim interested in the property to wire money for a down payment. Once they received the down payment, they cut off communications.
While the duo charged the majority of victims from $2,500 to $7,500 for the fake down payment, some people lost between $15,000 and $25,000.
Moody says more than $300,000 in restitution will be given back to the individual victims.
Josey primarily operated out of Palm Beach County, Moody says, but fraudulently listed land for sale in other counties, including:
- Indian River
- Palm Beach
- St. Lucie
Moody says that OSP filed the case in Lee County because it had a high percentage of the fake land listings.
Josey pleaded guilty and is convicted of organized fraud in the first degree, organized fraud in the third degree; grand theft, a third-degree felony; aggravated white-collar crime, a first-degree felony; money laundering, a first-degree felony, and two counts of communications fraud in the third degree. She was sentenced to six years in prison followed by nine years of probation.
Russell’s case is pending.
“This duo laid traps to gain the trust of potential buyers, forcing them to fork over a heavy down payment before cutting off all ties to line their pockets,” says Moody. “I’m proud of my Office of Statewide Prosecution for taking down the ringleader of the operation, along with gaining restitution for the victims that suffered through this scheme.”
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