Out Of The Mailbag – To YW Editor (How To Lose Your Black Hat In Real Estate)

46

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yw logo5.jpgDear Editor, I don’t know where to begin. I am putting my pen to paper in the hope of helping people who might be in a similar situation, or considering putting themselves into one.

August 2000. I went to the Catskills. I meet a very nice yungerman in my colony, that, from what I was told by a mutual friend, is doing “very well” in real estate. We schmooze a little, he takes my number.

Several weeks later, I get a call from this yungerman, who is a big “Baal Tzedakah”. “A deal just became available, a four family house in crown heights. “The building is Brick! The rent is federal-government direct-deposit paid-like-clockwork-on-the first-of-the-month section 8 tenants, and in perfect condition!”

Do I know anything about real estate? No. I’m a (self described) Feina Yungerman, having just left kollel to take my first job in the working world. I don’t want to be one of the mootchers of the government, on the dole getting section 8, Medicaid, or food stamps. I want to be a self sufficient yungerman, able to provide for my small-but-growing family, paying taxes and getting paid on the books.

So… here is my chance. Turns out that A deal came up, and since he doesn’t buy small deals anymore like this one, he is willing to “flip it” to me for a pittance above what he is paying. I meet the “flipper” at the property, look around… and the property looks, takeh, pretty nice. The block wasn’t a block that I would want to get a flat tire on, but nu, its not Boro Park… and my checks will be coming by mail, and I will be using a management company anyway… nu, so what’s not to like?

I ask around, and get the name of a good attorney. Check his references doing some homework of my own, and am told that he is a good attorney.

And… I am asked for a deposit of  $20,000, which I can B”H come up with. I am explained that since the value of the house is much more then I am paying (don’t forget, it’s a steal of a deal that I am getting), the bank will give me a very high mortgage as a “seller’s consession”. “It’s all legit”, I am assured. Well- I’m not so sure… but since I have my well-regarded attorney, I wont’ worry about that- I’m sure the lawyer will keep me and my metziah of a deal 1000% legal and kosher. and I’ll be getting back the downpayment plus, at closing.

I go to the lawyer to discuss the contract. The lawyer assures me its airtight  and not to worry.. The lawyer prints out a sheet of paper, which he attaches to the contract, which says “The Seller agrees to give the buyer a stipend of $70,000 at the closing, due to the condition of the property and the buyer accepting the property as-is”.

Ok. So with my wife proudly looking on, her gaonish’a husband, scribbles his name on the paper and on all the other papers which have “SIGN HERE” post-it stickies attached to them, and we are on our way.

Three weeks later, the closing is set up for the following afternoon. The seller has hooked me up with an amazing insurance broker, who got me insurance and an appraiser, who got me an appraisal… and the appraisal came in EVEN HIGHER then anticipated… since the market had gone UP in the time since the deal had been offered to me up until now!

I left the closing an hour later with $40,000 in my pocket. Not payable to me, of course, but as it was explained to me at the closing, that the checks couldn’t be made out to me since the bank didn’t really want to see it on the HUD… nodding to whatever the attorneys and seller said, since they were all in pleasant agreement, and after tipping the title person for all the work a few hundred dollars (yes, its customary, explained my attorney, who decided that $350 was a decent tip for all the work with the extra checks being disbursed and *wink* knowing when to leave the room and all…) huh? He also charges $2000 for himself.

Yes. I was now a Yungerman, but nisht stam a yungerman, but one with $40,000 in his pocket.. Would we splurge this money and spend it foolishly? No way! We immediately paid off our several thousand dollars of debt we had on our credit cards, as well as on top doctors for a medical condition (we aren’t going to ask our parents to help when we can pay for it… right?) And giving some tzeddakah to thank Hashem for his Chessed in giving us this gift… we had the management company managing the building, and things were blissful.

You said someone…A WHAT? What in the world is that? Squatter? You mean a chazakah, like the Gemora says? Some guy broke into the house and now the police won’t kick him out? Yep. You heard me right. Some teenage, funny-smelling-cigarette-smoking teenager noticed that there was an empty apartment in the building… (Oh, I must have not mentioned that by the time we closed three apartments were empty… giving me the opportunity to collect higher rents and big BONU$ES from the city worth $5,000 each!! Chasdei Hashem!)…

Anyway, so this teenager called Verizon, and had them come install a phone line in the building. So, you see, he explains to the police, I’m here and I have squatter’s rights. So you can’t kick me out, I have established residency. So please tell the landlord that I am here until he gets me evicted- and he had better provide heat for my apartment because brrrr… its been cold here the last few days. (Since the previous owner –oops. No it was a flip- so two owners ago had the utilities cut off for nonpayment for a week or so before they sold, and my management company had been slow in getting it turned on, since Brooklyn Union Gas wanted a large deposit to open the account anew, since there was such a large balance on the old account.. (Yes, of course… the money for the deposit came from the money we received at closing… where else?)

Oh and yes… in the apartment above him, a fellow teenager, this one with dreads (doesn’t every bachur and yungerman living in the big apple know what dreads and Rastafarians are? And what the Jamaican flag colors are? I mean, I do… now!)has taken the above apartment… and is having parties there every night in his DIRA… I mean bochurim are bochurim… even if they are from Jamaica and not Jewish…. No? especially when they have huge bulldogs?? Ones that even the police don’t want to deal with?

So, my building is getting four, oops I mean, one fat rent check form the city on the first of every month. So to pay the mortgage of $2600 a month, I should be covering that with under two rents… one more rent to cover the other expenses like taxes and insurance… leaving me with one rent per month in pure PROFIT! (not to mention having a free and clear, no mortgage, house after 30 years!!) MAMISH GEONIUS!

So, my four rents I am supposedly getting (plus the one-time bonuses from the homeless shelter of $15,000 in total!! Which I will get every two years hopefully!!) is now only one, which doesn’t even cover the mortgage, forget the other expenses. But i’m getting waaay ahead of myself.

At the closing, I see when I walk in, a yungerman sitting in the lawyer’s office, with the seller who was selling me the building. Which was kind of interesting, since I was 15 minutes early for my closing (ver volt gevust that closings aren’t always on time?) and they seemed to be sitting there with a “bank”, “title closer”… and all…

Turns out that this was the “sale” in which my “seller” was the “buyer”. The lawyer assures me that this is normal- that’s what a flip is, he explains to me.

So, when I ask for the keys, it turns out that the keys I’m given don’t work… so they give me the number to “their seller” who promptly returns my call and arranges to meet me to give me the keys. When we meet, we schmooze a little, find some common relatives… were practically related! Anyway, he mentions to me that he sells properties for a living, and that I probably got a decent deal on the property, since he sold it to them for $300,000 and so I paid what, he asks? 320,000?

WHAT? I paid $480!! And the appraisal came in at $597,700!! The guy is shocked. “what chazeirim they are”, he exclaims. “they just cashed in an easy “large”! so.. he feels bad for me. And so, he tells me that I now have his number and he will give me properties without any middleman. For example, he has a twelve family house on a beautiful block. he mumbles something about a 7A (whatever that is)… but its no problem to get it off once a new owner takes title. of course-  er zugt dem emes!

“but I don’t have money for a down payment, I tell him. No problem he says- they have banks that will treat the house like a four family, and get the loan done as a residential loan, for which I can get 100% financing- and maybe even pull out 10 or twenty grand on the side for a little fringe benefit- since they pay closing costs when they sell a property.

Isn’t life wonderful? Such seyata deshmaya! Over supper that night, I explain to my wife how lucky we are. “we will soon be able to own 16 units- and make 5,000 a month in profit! With that money we will be able to live very comfortable and support our family”

I have a yiddisher kop. “if I buy two or three houses a year besides what I have now.. since the management itself is being given out and I found a good source of properties for cheap… I can put away $100-200 thousand dollars in the next five years or so… and buy myself an apartment to live in myself- like a mentch! And pay my good insurance and bills out of my ehrlicher earnings, not mooch off the feds like many people we know!

My parents and in laws are proud of me. They are happy to see me succeed- especially since my older brother is working hard for many years trying to make ends meet, but cant seem to make a living at anything he does.  I offer to mentor him in real estate… since by now I own “apartment buildings” and people call me for advice… ( by now I owned several properties across Brooklyn, the Bronx, and staten island)

My parents and in laws are all “old-school”, all holding down full time jobs working for “other people”. No self employed blood in my family, not since arrival on American sores for sure not. (I did once hear of a great-great-great grandfather that had a general store somewhere in Galicia- so I guess some entrepreneurship does exist in the last 200 years in my family.)

Oh. Lets fast forward to the present.

I thought I was invincible, and that Hashem would look out for me. I am considering declaring bankruptcy, and giving up my properties to the city before I get arrested for not providing heat as winter comes along, since foreclosures can take a year or more in new York.

All my wife’s savings from her single years, all our wedding savings, everything we own (including a refinance of my personal resident to borrow our way out of trouble…) its all gone. and  I refuse to borrow from friends since i have no way to pay it back in the foreseeable future.

I still have my gold-and-diamond encrusted tie clip and cufflink set. My wife still has her engagement ring. There are the two things we refuse to sell- unless we need to the money to do a shidduch with one of our children, we will keep these and hold them.

Everything else is gone. I don’t want to fall behind in my payments. And I am still sleepless every night, which is why I am typing this at this hour, since I am scared Chas veshalom of the FBI or some other lovely federal agents coming to get me. And then I’d have the stigma of having been arrested on top of all the maror and chrain I have been eating recently, not to mention that fact that I would not want to be ovier on mesira of a fellow Jew, since the peer-pressure of doing so, even in a case where my Rov and Posek would allow it, would damn me for life.

So, all you people out there that have been involved in preying on innocent yungerleit over the last few years of the boom… think deep and hard about if you owe anyone an apology. If you perhaps might suffer gehonnim for the anguish you have caused many an innocent family, while you gave tzeddakah to the worthy causes and had your names on plaques galore.

I’m not placing the blame for my personal tragedy on other people,. And I can only image some people, some meaning well, some with “naaseh lo ke’heter” after being involved on some part of shady deals in some way… will comment on this negatively. I have not typed five hundred pages- just glossed over some of the highlights of some things that come to mind, as I sit here and try to put my thoughts together…

You people, the ones who perpetrate such acts knowingly, putting myself and many others like myself in harms way and into financial (and marital, in some cases) ruin… there are tens of yungerliet I personally know, if not hundreds or even a thousand plus, that are now being swallowed alive by the mortgage crises , while the fear of getting in trouble for illegality keeps us paying the mortgages so that we stay clear, since “as long as you pay they don’t investigate”.

May Hashem have mercy on you all.

I’m better off in a big way. I have learned some really good lessons about life, loyalty, how not to leyg a tzveiten in a pekkel, how to feel for someone less fortunate then myself, and all about the galgal hachozer. have become a much better person from my experiences, may I continue with Hashems help!

And to all of you contemplating life on easy street… doing fraud on mortgages,  fake gemach verifications, getting added as a signer on a  bank account, getting verified at a fake place of employment…. All this stuff can and WILL come back to haunt everyone involved. even your mother and grandmother, possibly.

And to the sellers, buyers, and “bank” attorneys, title companies, appraisers,  insurance brokers, mortgage reps… YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE. Stay straight. Yesh Din V’Yesh Dayin…

and remember:  If something seems too good to be true….. IT IS.

A Fellow Jew.


46 COMMENTS

  1. Seems incredible but unfortunatly a more common occurence than thought- however one glaring fact stands out- from these lines it is also obvious that the victim did a pitiful job of due diligence from all angles-

  2. Although I do feel sorry that you have fallen on hard times based on some shady deals, 1) shouldn’t you know more about a business or about real estate and how it works before you throw $20,000 at a building you do not know the first thing about? 2) Why did you think Hashem was going to protect you while you were committing fraud by signing on documents and adding your name to things it should not have been on in the first place. Ohev kessef lo yizba kessef.

  3. I’m happy that people are coming to the senses it is crazy whats going on today but what could we do we all wanna make money amcha yisroel tzrichen parnasah!!!!$$$$$$$

  4. The point here, I think, is not if the letter writer made a bad deal, did not do research, etc. The point is that so called “frum” people were more than willing to draw him in and totally destroy a fellow yid financially. Then we wonder about at-risk children and how it can happen.

  5. Although the person selling the property has some responsibility to make sure the deal is above board and the attorney should certainly loose their license if there was fraud. What about personal responsibility? I think that that is the main problem is this guy saw a “get rich quick” deal and jumped on it. It seems that after the first deal closed he went on to acquire other properties using unethical business practices to get them. What about choshen mishpat? does it all go out of the window when there is the ability to make a few extra $$$?

  6. Rabbosei,

    This yungerman does not sound like he was greedy, or looking to do shady shtik or anything of the sort.
    He was poshut conned into this by people out there fleecing the public, it is outrageous to blame him when he went into this deal with basic trust of a fellow jew.
    Everyone who blames him should check into their own practice if they are abiding by Choshen Mishpat.

  7. The irony is that the only “honest” person was the “dishonest” squatter. That’s his profession!
    Namely, he’s a “professional squatter/occupant-sometimes-tenant.” I’m in court with these “CHEVRA” every day and I evict them one by one.
    Incidentally, there’s a way out of this mess.

  8. Although i feel terrible for you, you must realize that 99% of people who make money didnt make it overnight. Yes, you learned in kollel for a nice amount of years, and your’e smart etc., but you have NO Business training. What you should of done is: Go work in Propert Managment for a year or 2(There are plenty of frum bosses looking for assistant property managers accross the tri state area), learn how to run a property, Take a night course for a BA in Business(or take a cope course), and then get to work on buying/selling/managing real estate. Yes, it’s all siyata dishmaya, and there are some people that are making hand over fist without traing, but you having not had that siyata dishmaya, should look do it the right way, and dont be an oiber chuchom. Trust me, I have gone through the up and downs in the last 20 yrs, and Bchasdei Hashem, I am making a ggod living in the real estate industry.

  9. Honestly frum,
    I have to agree with reb yid here. From the account here, it does not seem there was anything that he intentionally did wrong here. The toeles that comes form this heart rending story is the need to not get into anything that you do not fully understand. Do NOT trust anybody, even frum guys, if they can’t fully explain to your satisfaction what the deal is about. Just open the Yated last week. There’s an ad from somebody looking for someone else who has an excellent credit score. They want to transfer some property into your name for a couple of years, for a nice fat fee. Does anybody reading this have an idea as to why that would be necessary? Right off the bat this sounds suspicious. And there’s another add from somebody advetising daytrading-low risk-high return. Yeah, right.
    Let’s follow the Gemara’s advice-a person should learn a clean and simple profession. Don’t think it’s beneath you. Just because you have some capital, it doesn’t mean you’re a genius and can go into business.

  10. It’s very easy to be a Monday morning quaterback and say “You should have done due diligence”.

    There are 2 wrongs in applying that statement to this poor young fellow who tried to make honest money.

    1. We, from a young age, implicity trust fellow Jews and, therefore, I was surprised most by the fact that the seller lied to this poor guy and overcharged him $200,000, instead of “flipping” it for a little bit over his own price, as he promised.

    2. Let’s look at what happened here. The Seller said I don’t need this small-fry stuff, so, if you want, I’ll give it to you for a small profit, so you can do well with it because it’s a great price and there are 4 apartments whose rents are paid by HUD every month. Sounds good.

    As for the due diligence, it is very difficult to learn all the ins and outs of anything, much less real estate with its nuances and legalities, so if a Jew comes to tell you I want to help you get started without needing to learn all of that, first, unless you’ve gotten burned by a fellow Jew before, it’s understandable that you would trust him and go for the “big break”, with only a minimum of understanding.

    However, in light of the above unfortunate story that happened to a fellow Jew, let everyone take to heart that when it comes to money, no matter who the deal is with – uncle, cousin, father-in-law, rabbi, best friend – everything must be in writing – Rachel Beetcha HaKitana – fully and completely explicit terms, again, in writing.

    Shlomo Hamelech spoke about taavas mamon, and, unfortunately, it is, indeed a taava. The gemara says that a person is seen for who he is through 3 traits – his pocket (monetary dealings), anger, and cup (how he acts when under the influence of alcohol).

    Realize that in each of the above 3 cases, a person loses his civilized veneer and reveals what he truly is – 10,000% honest, 50% honest, 10% honest? – just as he reveals if he is a complete boor when under the influence of alcohol, or just much more biSimcha, or somewhere in between.

    There are such stories of what people do for money that, like this one, would not, otherwise, be believed.

    To the writer of the letter: May Hashem reverse your misfortunes, and may you see much hatzlacha in parnassa that you so earnestly desired, visheyimale Hashem Kol Mishaolos Libcha LiTova.

  11. One must feel bad at the end of the day for such people. He was less wrong than those who duped him into these deals. However, people like the writer of the article are in a big part part of the feeding frenzy in real estate. They are also guilty of the get rich quick mentality that I must be rich in 2 years otherwise no job is good for me. If people like the writer would not just plunk down any price quoted for a house just to make sure that they are in on the latest craze and would work for a living, they would be able to live with Menucahs Hanefesh

  12. I work in a commercial mortgage RE brokerage shop.

    Unfortunately what the writer says is true. There are unscrupulous people out there. This can/does cause massive Chillul Shem Shomayim.

    We have had bankers who have told us that they are sick of these people and their dishonest ways. It casts all of us in a bad light.

    Those committing fraud are putting other people, and sometimes whole firms (who are not aware of their scheme)at risk!

  13. Yes; there are people who will destroy innocent friends by convincing them into investments for their own good.

    Same thing is with people who will borrow money from close friends, convincing them that it will be paid off by a certain date but never pay back.

    Let me relate to you the situation I was in:

    A close friend of mine went into business which succeeded nicely into a boomimg line, one day he came over to me -a yungerman with no knowledge in business, but I do have some savings- and explained to me his business and what his next step will be, it was a definite profitable expansion, but he will need to reinvest all his profits plus. His request from me was to borrow him $10,000, which I can ask him to return at any time with 3 days notice, his request was fulfilled since I was convinced in his success and he was a honest person.

    One day I bumped into another friend who needed money urgently, for just a few days, since I have borrowed him money in the past and got paid back every penny on time, I trusted him and borrowed him $9,000, the next day rumor was that this friend is declaring bankruptcy, he still took the opportunity to get as much money out of friends before he will never have a chance to borrow again.

    This second incident was a wake up call for me, I gave the first friend 3 days notice and asked him for my money, he said it wouldn’t be problem since he has made profit and he even showed me a check from a huge customer in the sum of 13 grand plus, but he asked if I don’t mind he should keep the money for another while for reinvestment, by now I was really convinced in his success and told him I’ll manage without the money for now.

    Three years passed (from the first loan), with all excuses why he can’t pay me back at the moment, but I shouldn’t worry and I should expect the money soon, by now after begging him for months that I need the money for my day-to-day life, he recently paid me $5,000 out of 10, and I’m still waiting for the rest.

    Ask anybody who knows this person, he is a successful honest businessman, he owns his house, drives a brand new nice car, but he still didn’t pay me back in full the amount he owes me and promised me he will pay it back with 3 days notice.

    As for the second story, a year has passed since the second loan, I got back most of the money from that person, he said he needs it only for a few days but he knew at that time that he will not have the money for me.

    Why would a person convince a friend to borrow him money if he won’t be able to pay him back?
    It’s his hard earned money, who gave the Heter to take it from him?
    Why would a person destroy his innocent friend’s life and make him unfortunate just because he needs money.
    I don’t call this a loan, I call this PURE GENEIVA!.

    I’m glad that from $19,000 borrowed to friends I got 13 back, but I fully understand the Gemora about “Ne’ilas Deles Bifnei Lovin”, from now nobody will be able to borrow money from me so fast again.

  14. As much as you all may not want to face it, the Jewish community is but a microcosm of society at large. We have Republicans and Democrats, we have doctors and school bus drivers. We have skinny people and obese people. We have righteous people and villains. We have our fair share of rotten apples just like every other ethnic group. We have truly “caught up” to all the other nations in that sense. As we all strive to live the American dream we rationalize that some people must get hurt in the process but so what? In life people have to lose so others will gain- that is the law of economics. I will give a little extra charity before Rosh Hashana, maybe get an honorable mention in the local shule as a big baal tzedakah, and I’ll be fine.

    The poor nebach who was swindled out of his savings has a just cause to inform the public of the event and name names. If people have a problem with him being “moser” it is probably because they too are involved in shady dealings and do not want to set a precedent for these things getting public. I, for one, would see it as a public service to get these people off the street before they can burn any more victims. If the police need to get involved that is fine with me. To remove a cancerous growth from our midst is necessary and we should not be ashamed to have others see that there are thieves even in the Jewish community. This “Chilul HaShem” would be offset by the Kiddush Hashem of exorcizing these undesirables from our midst and show people we are not engaged in a hush-up. I applaud his resolve to keep his head above water and stay the path of honesty despite the huge temptation he must feel for lowering himself to their level. I just wish the community at large and the various rabbanim would support him and encourage him to seek justice in the open court. Those despicable people need to be shut down and pay their dues to society and most important, serve as a lesson to others who may be tempted to follow in their evil path.

    Let us be honest with ourselves, people like this did not wake up to the life of real-estate fraud overnight, they have been perfecting the scams for years. To think that they will repent next month before Rosh HaShana is being a bit naïve. They have had their chances many times over, it is time to send them to the courts.

  15. It seems they bluffed you into thiking the cheques come rolling in THEY DONT.
    It seems like you need to focus to get help to start collecting the rent and selling some buildings.
    rather then just giving up and blaming the credit given to you.
    many people I know make a living of those buildings and tenants although its a tuff job and hard work.

  16. Wow, what an important post. I just hope some other yungerliet read it before they put down their savings for a great deal from a frum seller.

    I think the lesson here that real estate investing on any level is not for the novice. You can’t trust anyone but yourself.
    Even a rebbishe einikel with a beard down to the floor cannot be assumed trustworthy in business.
    You must do the full investigation of what “can go wrong” instead of only hearing “what can go right”.

    The same is true for any business.

  17. My husband has recently been defrauded to the tune of a half million dollars. The Choshiver Yungerman used his father’s good name to get countless people to invest. He destroyed many families. He caused and is still causing untold heartache. When questioned about it, he shows zero remorse.

    What a pity on him. I would never want to be in his decrepit shoes.

  18. Some details are vague, but it does seem that the seller had an appraiser in cahoots to give a false appraisal so that the bank will give a bigger loan. But I have a hard time feeling bad for this guy. He does not state how he obtained so many subsequent properties without having much money. I suspect that for the later properties he was aware that there was bank fraud but chose to look the other way. He did not get outraged that the fraud until he had financial problems. He is probably not opposed to fraud as a general principle, only ones that do not work for him.

  19. It does seem that he was “swindled” into the first deal (although jumping into an investment with ones’ eyes closed is not very smart) but what about the rest of the deals? After finding out that the property was not proforming why get involved with other properties when the one you have is in trouble? In addition, the guy who sold the first property was making a profit just like everyone else did (and still are) in this crazy real estate market.

  20. To the writer of this letter:

    Judging by some of the pathetic responses in this thread, I just wanted to let you know that there are those of us out here, who do understand your point and purpose in writing this letter.
    The only point I disagree with you on, is the amount of blame you seem to be taking. You sarcastically refer to yourself as gaoinsh…which seems to impart how much you blame yourself for getting here. Its easy to forget the perspective you were in when you got in to this. There are as you have stated myriads of people who would naively do exactly the same thing. Be very thankful that you B”H have a wife who understands and is in it with you instead of constantly blaming you and reminding you of her woes.

    Most importantly, Thank you for the consideration you have, in sharing this experience with us, so that others don’t fall into the same trap. You really don’t know how many potential victims (would be prime candidates) will eventually read this letter, and watch their backs. In this zechus may H-shem guide you through the clean way out.

  21. maybe we should have a realestate ratings website
    to cover att’y’s and title agency’s and insurance companies etc. like they have for all products and travels like on amazon and trip advisor….. even doctors have ratings
    Rate them and write comments

  22. This fraudulent business dealing situation is nothing new in the ‘Jewish’ business world. I saw things like that go on as an employee of ‘religious,frum,long-bearded chassidishe people who promised me he world and cheated each other,left and right on a daily basis. Laws did not mean anything,and neither did choshen mishpot. Unfortunately there are people like that,but many are not. As young people,we tend to trust anyone who looks real frum and talks the talk. Young people in our circles are so naive and gullible because they are so sheltered from the real world. Just look at this post and you’ll see how poorly some people spell or use the correct English words. There is a lack of worldly education today which is going to get back at us in a bad way in the coming years. Young men are forbidden to get a normal high school education,no college,inability to read or write ,no knowledge of history or business knowledge,no money in the family,but MUST dress a certain way or not be accepted in their (our) circles,;but also expected to raise a large family( as we all should ), How are our children and grandchildren going to live if this contiues? Anyone who gives money to anybody,MUST first investigate where his money is going and who he’s dealing with. Don’t we have rabbonim and rabbeim to whom we ask our shaalos? This young man didn’t ask any experienced older person,father,rebbe,rov etc.,but just jumped at the chance to make a fast easy dollar. It does not work that way. Good luck and may Hashem protect the naive and expose the predators.

  23. Re: DAVE375’s comment — my city has no shortage of scammers who continue to live at large in the Frum community, even after defrauding their neighbours and friends. My neighbour happily did his jail time, was released, and continues to scam.

    People are hesitant to involve the pesky Goyish authorities (whom they still view as the Czar, for some reason) and risk a Chilul Hashem, and the Jewish authorities have no, well, authority to deal with the issue.

    Like child abusers, these people victimize because they know that victims are embarrassed to come forward and those that do face community pressure to keep things Sha Shtill.

    By the way, the “jail time” neighbour I refer to did not do his time for crimes against the Jews. That was swept under the rug, but he was busted for a scam involving Goyim.

  24. As the Gemorrah says “anyone who doesn’t teach his son a trade is teaching him how to steal”. In order to make an HONEST living wage, one will usually need some schooling. These dishonest “flippers” are usually people who never learned a trade and this dishonesty is a direct outcome of it.
    As far as the Yungerman out of Kollel who wrote the letter is concerned, you can probably paraphrase the Gemorrah to read: “Anyone who doesn’t teach his son a trade is teaching him how to loose his money”. When Kollel people go into their first deal without any due diligence, it is usually because they feel they have no functional way to make money since they don’t have the necessary educational background. Therefore, in order to make money, they take a leap of faith by trusting people who shouldn’t be trusted, hoping to strike it rich by investing. They look at their friends that succeeded and say, if he can do it, so can I. They don’t realize that investing in real estate is a science and an art, and you need to learn it to be successful. I am personally involved in real estate and have seen many people succeed. When they don’t, it is almost always because they failed to be prudent, to do proper research and to invest wisely, based on logic and honest number crunching instead of emotion. I can remember going through a property which was a rowhouse in Camden with a man from Boro Park. He said to me, “Imagine how much this would sell for in Boro Park?” That’s invoking emotion!
    One last word: Get your education a few years BEFORE your financial situation becomes desperate. It’s desperation that usually causes someone to take the reckless steps this Yungerman took.

  25. KAJ — Hashem isn’t going to ride into town and round up the predators. The community has to get over its aversion to Chilul Hashem and, yes, informing on fellow Jews in order to protect future victims.

    How can we have a situation where someone who cheats members of the community cannot be reported to the authorities but must be left free to reoffend, as the Rabbonim have no effective means of dealing with the situation.

  26. I am very impressed with this young mans courage in coming out and telling us this story and all the pain and tzar that he has gone through. As Jews we must truly feel for him and have him and many other jews (frum and non-frum) who are suffering from problems in parnosa Lo’ Aleinu keep them in our Tefilah. What also bothers me so much is to hear that other jews are cheating and scamming their bretheren and these are FRUM yidden, who learnt in Yeshiva. I cant imagine why they would do this to someone – the extreme tayvos and yetzer harah they must have for money- they would be willing to harm a fellow jew.
    One of the things my Rosh Yeshiva really impressed upon me, is that real growth doesn’t happen over night (and if it does its sheker). He always says “you don’t microwave a tomato seed into a tomato” He is referring to learning Torah- this is something that takes time and effort. I believe that we need to apply these same principles to the business world L’ Havdil. If we see ppl making or claiming that they are making really fast cash overnight in real estate or shares, simply don’t believe them or if it seems true- stay away from them, it just cant be coming from a good source. You need to work hard and acquire a education and working knowledge about a business or industry by studying the theory, taking classes and then get experience interning for companies or getting an apprenticeship , start out at the bottom and build your way up – the good old fashioned way – kind of like many of our grandparents. I know my grandparents who came from Hungary and went through Auschwitz – came to the free world with no money just a determination and they slaved selling deli off carts in the streets and decades later ended up having successful real estate holdings and owned a nursing home. Today im seeing too many of my young friends in their early 20’s looking to make a quick buck- thinking that they will be rich over night. It scares me….
    May Hashem protect us and help us.

  27. To reiterate what Charedeim Kol is saying, why aren’t these charachters given a Hazmana to Beis Din? If they don’t go to BD, then the BD will allow you to go to court. I don’t get it.

  28. I do not beleive this story! If he bought a 4 family in Crown Heights in 2000 then he should be able to sell it for a profit easily! Home like that are worth 700k – 1 mil. today, perhaps even more. Even vacant or bad condition!

  29. I have read the message from the yunger man and some of the postings. Forgive me if I am so naive but discussing how terrible these yiddish ganavim are and berating the yunger man for not being more cautious is all fine and good but what happens now? What is going to prevent these same yiddishe ganavim, and others like them, from continuing to scam other innocent yidden and yes goyim too (and making a chillul Hashem C”VSh)? Are we supposed to just sit back and tsk tsk. I understand that coming out publicly and accusing someone of these things is something that has to be done cautiously and only with Daas Torah. Again fogive my naiveté but why can’t the Rabbonim establish a bez din for this where people report these crimes. The bez din would then investigate, especially when they have more than one report about a specific uncrupulous indivudal and then take action accordingly. How long will we allow dishonest, ruthless and immoral people in our community to freely roam our shules, yes even our yeshivos, and what was once our elite society? What is it going to take to clean up our community from this trash? And I’m not just referring to crimes such as that mentioned above.
    This rishus is not going to go away on it’s own and no matter how much we shove it under the carpet it’s crawling out from underneath. We desperately need a bez din to deal with these issues as well. Ignorance is not bliss! We need syata dishmaya but we have show Hashem that we are also exercising some askanus – activism. Hashem Yerachaim.

    Edited by Site Moderation Panel.

  30. We did not go to Bais Din because we knew that this man would simply tell them that he did not have the money to pay for it.

    And then what would Beis Din do?

    As far as I’m aware we are not allowed to go to court for financial reasons. We do know that this decree came from Hashem and this man who stole from us chose to be a bad Shaliach.
    #21

  31. ever wonder why there are four chalakim to the shulchan aruch? i think the answer is – that a chezkas kashrus in one of them does not give a chezkas kashrus in the other.

  32. #33, perhaps you don’t believe this story, but your line of thinking is EXACTLY what the letter-writer thought when he got into this!

  33. As far as Beis Din or court goes, these guys are sleeze-balls and work around many of the laws. Consequently, its very difficlult to get them legally, and it takes a very long time. As an example, did you ever hear of John Beck? He’s a real-estate guy from TV who has defrauded THOUSANDS of people of their hard earned money, and guess what…he’s still doing it everyday. He’s still on TV and still raking in the dough. Don’t believe me? Do a google search of “John Beck” or “Free and Clear” and see for yourself. [Use google at your own risk].

  34. I believe this story, the real moral is when it comes to monetary matters even with frummer yidden follow the advice of chazal, kabdehu vechashdehu.

  35. #33 is 100% correct
    There is no way he bought this house in crown Heights in 2000 and selling it today without making a hefty profit, I repeat NO WAY.
    Prices have gone up since 2000 by a huge amount.
    (if he overpaid so much for it in 2000, that he still dosen’t break even or make a profit then it’s even crazier, didn’t his father or father in law check the prices in 2000? didn’t he check for prices in the area?)

    Perhaps this was just a “mashal” to teach people a lesson….which is good in any case and is a very good public service.

  36. I feel very bad for the individual who was put into financial straits, but (going forward) one thing we must teach our loved ones, and those who are within our scope to be mechanech:

    There is no such thing as a free lunch. (Yes, including scam mails and free vacations and if you forward this email, bill gates will write you a check)

    And, sorry to be cynical, but the only people (besides tzaddikim!) who are genuinely HAPPY for you when you succeed (even beyond them) are your parents. Don’t ever buy the story that, “I am rich, and I want to pass on the wealth to others”. If I am rich, I want to get richer, not get you richer.

    By nature, people are selfish, and if they have 1 portion , they want 2(This may be a quote from the gemora?). If you think constantly of ‘What’s in it for THEM’ before continuing with a business deal, it will open your eyes.

    Again, as posted previously by other commentators, no emotion. I can count on the fingers of ONE hand when someone called me up to do ME a toivah without any ulterior motive, and I’ve been around a long long time.

    I can be completely wrong about this, but it seems that predators prey on alot of external conditions: emotions(that was said previously in someone’s post), toying w/ human psyche (i *think* most scammers approach men, not women, with the mentality that a) men hold the purse-strings b) men will be hard pressed to say, “i can’t afford to invest”, since that is a reflection on themselves/ their success/ male image / head of house/ sole provider image(ie it’s ‘ok’ for a woman to have a mediocre job, but not for a man) c) there is more of a buddy/ boys club mentality. This is just my idea, not proven. Does anyone find this to be so?

  37. ‘#23
    His initials are the same as this sites.

    Comment by anonymous — August 9, 2007 @ 5:53 pm ‘

    Come to think of it, that is an excellent way of warning other people. Can someone think of a halachik reason why not?

  38. This problem WILL continue as long as the rav of the shul he davens in welcomes him.
    And if any rov won’t abandon the known shtickmen/crooks we should abandon that rov.
    I know of a “shiene yid” who swindeled someone, and i personally will not talk to him or his rov.
    Anybody want to join my thoughts?

  39. can someone please explain in a simple a nontechnical manner, why and how this yungerman went bankrupt? I’d like to avoid his error (i.e. my investment has already been made)

  40. I am not shocked at all I myself am owed close to twenty thousand dollars for a job not paid
    Bais din is a joke they dont return phone calls dayanim FALLING ASLEEP IN MIDDLE of the din torah this is tavois mamom like the old tayva of avoda zorah

  41. 1. if he doesnt answer three hazmanos from a beis din, they will give you permission to go to court (it only cost me $50.00 besides the hazmanos).

    2. you prob have a weak case, cause the property values went up; though you may be able to get the missing rent (from the squatter and etc) and l-t court legal fees to throw out the squatter, but its probably bobkus. so its not worth it.

    3. dayanim falling asleep — thats not as bad as civil court where i just paid my (civil) judge a measly $200. for $200 the judge risks her whole career!!! but of course, no one cares!!!

    4. of course, i went to a bais din to send the lawyer a hazmana for advising his client to ignore my hazmanos. the bais din is “thinking” about taking my case!

    5. remember the line from the godfather — a lawyer with a briefcase can steal more than a bank robber with a gun! and legally!