I entered into a purchase contract for three real estate investment properties located in Rochester N.Y. in 2006. Mr. James was the sellers real estate agent. I cancelled these contracts when I discovered that my agent, Millie Salisbury, who represented herself as a broker to me under the business name of Salisbury Enterprises had forged my name on a counter offer. Ms. Salisbury did this because the counter offer stated that the seller would do no repairs or improvements for buyer's mortgage or for the C of O (certificate of occupancy). I would not have accepted that counter offer. Shortly after this incident I found that Ms. Salisbury was not even licensed to sell real estate.
The whole situation became more and more complicated when it was discovered that Ms. Salisbury was scamming other investors and using earnest money deposits to pay various handymen, contractors and others whom she had owed money to. I called Mr. James and sent faxes to him informing him of the fraud situation.
The attorney who represented me in the purchased of these investment properties contacted Mr. James to inform him of the situation and advised him to return the deposits. Other real estate brokers also contacted Mr. James advising him to return the deposits.
Mr. James signed the Cancellation and Release of Purchase and Sale Contract as the listing broker dated September 9, 2006. This contract , copyrighted by the Greater Rochester Association of Realtors and the Monroe County Bar Association, calls for the deposit made to be returned to the buyer promptly.
I tried to report this to the Greater Rochester Association of Realtors and was told they could do nothing. According to them Ms. Salisbury was no longer a member of the Association (licensed expired) and as to the deposits being returned from Mr. James I would have to take legal action by going to small claims court. I am in California so that was not a practical option.
I personally contacted the seller of these three properties and found that she did not receive the deposits. She advised me to call the office of the attorney representing her in the sale. I did and spoke to the paralegal at that office and found that the law firm did not receive the deposits.
Mr. James still has not returned the $1,500 earnest money deposits as required per the cancellation and release contract.
Although I reported all of this to the police department nothing was ever done. I decided not waste time or money taking legal action against Mr. James because I have since learned that Rochester, N. Y has a serious problem with real estate scams and frauds. The shysters and con-artists are most likely well aware that laws regarding economic crimes, fraud and grand larceny are not enforced by the authorities so the problem just grows.
In my opinion hiring attorney's or going to court even if you win does not guarantee that your money will be returned. A judgement against someone who has no assets or even a W-2 job to garnish wages is a worthless piece of paper, a waste of time and only feeds more money to the lawyers. Some states do not even allow garnishment of wages. A judgement does show up on public records in the county office but good luck collecting on it.
Reader's of this complaint may be wondering why I'm just now, in July of 2009, reporting about something that happened in 2006. The answer is simply that it took me this long to learn that you can call all the government agencies you want, make reports to all the consumer affairs offices and agencies, report to the police and other "authorities" and you just come to a dead end. I was told numerous times that we just don't have the resources to investigate this.
I am posting my experience with the Rochester N. Y community to hopefully help others avoid getting ripped off. Although Mr. James is listed as an active member of the Realtor's Association I cannot find his valid license number on the Department of State Licensing site http://www.dos.state.ny.us/LCNS/licensing.html. I may not be looking in the right place but it is probably good advice for anyone considering purchasing real estate in Rochester to do their own investigation before doing business. Here is a link to look up licenses https://appsext7.dos.state.ny.us/nydos/selSearchType.do
(if links are not clickable just copy and paste into your browser)
There is a process to file a complaint through the N.Y. State Department of Licensing but after my experience with numerous regulatory agencies it would just be another bureacratic red tape and rigamarole nightmare.