Real Estate Investment Scam Shut Down

Allison Tussey —  June 6, 2014 — Leave a comment

Renee Goodman, Ozark, Missouri, and her investment company, Investment Midwest, have been shut down due to false promises concerning, among other things, that investor funds would be used for an ownership stake in a new home being built in Branson, Missouri.

One investor put $37,500 into Investment Midwest for an ownership stake in a house to be built in Branson, MIssouri. Allegedly, after Goodman told the investor that the property was under contract and set to close, she convinced the investor to reinvest the principal in another house to be constructed in an adjacent lot. Goodman later reported back that the second house had been built but a deal to sell it “fell through.” But the investor’s subsequent calls to a local real estate agent and the Stone County Recorder of Deeds revealed that the original house never sold and the second home was never built.

Goodman took in at least $635,000 from investors, promising quick, above-market returns from the proceeds of various consumer mainstays such as Waffle House and automobile lubrication shops. In fact, the investigation revealed that Goodman, who is not registered to sell investments in Missouri, directed only a portion of the money toward one of the advertised projects, a failing quick-lube shop in southwest Missouri. Allegedly, Goodman commingled the investor money with personal funds, subsequently withdrawing $400,000 in cash and spending part of the remainder on a variety of personal expenses.

Ultimately, Goodman pulled in at least six investors into the scheme, Kander’s office asserts.

Goodman allegedly told one investor that the quick-lube shop in Forsyth, a town 20 minutes away from Branson, would generate a 100 percent return within one year. A $40,000 investment in a nearby Waffle House would lead to a 180 percent annual return, the same investor was allegedly told.

A review of records for both Goodman’s personal and business bank accounts uncovered evidence of mismanagement of investor funds. Besides questionable cash withdrawals and personal expenditures, investigators found investor and personal funds commingled—something that is frequently indicative of fraud.

Neither Goodman nor any of Investment Midwest’s offerings were registered with the state, as required by law. Documents show that the company instead claimed at least three of the offerings were “exempt from the U.S. Securities Act and all similar acts of other jurisdictions.” Such blanket statements rarely hold up for the type of investment arrangements Investment Midwest offered, though.

Goodman and Investment Midwest are banned from continuing their scheme in Missouri. It also begins the process of recovering investors’ money and imposing penalties.

Secretary of State Jason Kander made the announcement.

“Real estate scams are one of the top threats to investors, and my number one goal in this investigation is recovering these investors’ hard-earned money,” Kander said. “It’s always a good idea for prospective investors to call my office to make sure the salesperson and investment product are appropriately registered because it is a red flag for a scam if they are not.”

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Allison Tussey

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