Two charged with real estate fraud in 6 Florida counties
LEE COUNTY, Fla. — The Florida Department of Law Enforcement arrested a second person Tuesday in connection with an elaborate real estate scam that spans six Florida counties.
What do you want to know
- Kiana Russell, 22, was arrested Tuesday in connection with an elaborate real estate scam that spans six Florida counties
- She is accused of conspiring with Tabria Josey to steal nearly $300,000 from at least 45 victims
- They are accused of renting or selling properties they did not own to unsuspecting people
Kiana Russell, 22, is accused of conspiring with Tabria Josey to steal nearly $300,000 from dozens of victims who thought they were buying or renting homes, FDLE officials say.
“Defendant took advantage of Florida’s hot real estate market to rip off buyers and renters,” Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said of Josey in a May 11 emailed statement. part with nearly $300,000. While the investigation into this elaborate real estate plan remains active, my statewide prosecutors will continue to work with law enforcement to ensure that the accused is brought to justice for her crimes.”
FDLE officials accused Josey of listing properties for sale on various real estate websites without the knowledge of the owners and then posing as the owners. Once a victim pledged to buy the property, Josey would have acted as the title agent, facilitating the closing. As part of the scheme, she is accused of creating fictitious title companies, websites, title agent identities and unique email addresses that make the sale appear legitimate, the statement said.
Although Moody’s statement indicates that Russell conspired in the scam with Josey, it does not specifically state what role she is accused of playing in the scheme.
Authorities have identified more than 45 victims so far and 25 properties in Lee, Indian River, Palm Beach, Flagler, Orange and St. Lucie counties.
Russell was incarcerated in Lee County Jail for fraud, money laundering and aggravated felony charges.
Josey was jailed last week at the Palm Beach County Jail for fraud, robbery, money laundering, aggravated white collar criminality and communications fraud.
FDLE officials said the investigation was continuing and they believed more people may have been victimized. Anyone with information about Russell, Josey or the alleged scam is asked to call FDLE Ft. Myers at 800-407-4880.