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Real estate ‘mentor’ sued for fraud after house flip failure

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A lawsuit has been filed against a local real estate company for allegedly scamming two local Realtors out of $35,000.

The suit, filed by two University of South Florida alumni, alleges Tampa business owner and real estate agent, Juan Carlos Gonzalez, misrepresented himself when agreeing to be their mentor. Gonzalez took a $30,000 investment from the plaintiffs and promised to split the profits evenly from the sale. Gonzalez has failed to uphold his end of the contract.

The plaintiffs, Benjamin and Ryan Flaherty, entered a contract with Gonzalez after they were led to believe Gonzalez was a real estate agent and could teach them how to flip houses. Gonzalez failed to inform the two he was not registered to provide advice on real estate investments.

Gonzalez’s and his companies, Real Estate Life Investments and Real Estate Life Network, are not registered to provide investment advice. Gonzalez and his companies are not licensed real estate brokers or sales associates. Real estate brokers are agents (or sales associates) who have taken additional training courses to become a broker.

The contract stated that, in exchange for $30,000, Gonzalez would provide the duo with five days of training in purchasing real estate, finance the three properties they planned to flip, and provide them with 50 percent of the profit after the three properties went back on the market and were sold.

After the first three properties had been purchased and two out of the three were flipped, Gonzalez and the plaintiffs agreed to go in on the fourth property in Tampa. The plaintiffs put in $3,000, and Gonzales assured them he would have the funds to close the deal, but he would need an extension. The Flahertys were able to extend the closing for an additional $2,000. Gonzalez was not able to come up with the money, costing the plaintiffs $5,000 on the last property alone.

The plaintiffs never received their share of the profits from the properties that were successfully flipped, according to the suit. The suit claims that the original contract was signed on Aug. 27, 2015. The second deal, that cost the plaintiffs $5,000, was made around July 2016.

The plaintiffs are suing Gonzalez and his companies for breach of contract, fraud in the inducement, fraudulent misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, and violation of the Florida Securities and Investors Protection Act, and the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.

The plaintiffs are demanding a jury trial to review all claims and issues and will argue Gonzalez deceived them on multiple accounts, costing them thousands of dollars.

Gonzalez was prosecuted in 2011 for unlicensed real estate sales and grand theft. After completing a pre-trial intervention program, the charges were dropped.


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