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Ruling Prohibits investor from tying up properties

September 24th, 2007 6:13 AM by Ron Mastrodonato

Ruling prohibits investor from tying up properties

TAMPA, Fla. – Sept. 21, 2007 – A real estate investor accused of encumbering more than 200 titles in Florida in order to keep the properties from selling is banned from using such practices to make deals in the Sunshine State, Leon County Circuit Judge William L. Gary ruled Thursday.

The Florida attorney general’s office, which investigated and litigated the case, said Todd Teal filed fraudulent affidavits that prevented owners in 28 counties from selling their property to anyone but him. Seventeen of the properties were in Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties.

Teal, 63, is a U.S. citizen but lives in Thailand. He used a post office box in Marco Island to conduct his real estate business. The attorney general’s office plans to seek damages of up to $15,000 for each property, said spokeswoman Sandi Copes.

Attempts to reach Teal were unsuccessful. Court records are unclear as to whether he has legal representation.

This is how the attorney general’s office said the case worked: From East Asia, Teal used the Internet to identify Florida properties he wanted to buy. He would contact the owners and talk them into selling to him. He would draw up a purchase contract and then look for another buyer to assign his contract to at a higher price.

While he searched, he filed fraudulent affidavits against the properties’ titles. Since property can’t be sold without a clear title, the property essentially was “held for ransom” Copes said.

Teal has bought and sold hundreds of properties, making more than $2 million in profit, according to the case.

Copes said the attorney general’s office has shared information with the Collier County Sheriff’s Office, but no charges have been filed.

Copyright © 2007 Tampa Tribune, Fla., Shannon Behnken. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Posted in:General
Posted by Ron Mastrodonato on September 24th, 2007 6:13 AM

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