Friday, July 29, 2005

State Sues Real Estate Speculator

Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist this week sued a Singapore resident
for orchestrating an elaborate real estate scam affecting owners of Florida
real estate. The lawsuit accuses Todd Teal of filing fraudulent affidavits
that prevent landowners from selling to anyone but him.

The complaint alleges that Todd Teal, 61, who lives in Singapore, held a
mail drop box in Marco Island and used the Internet to identify land held
in Florida mostly by out-of-state owners. According to the lawsuit, Teal
would make offers to buy the property, hold the property under contract
until he found a buyer to purchase it at a higher price, and in the
meantime threaten the owner with lawsuits and fraudulent affidavits to
prevent the owner from escaping from the unfair transaction. The affidavits
filed by Teal claimed he had a valid contract, and he would threaten to
file a lawsuit to compel the property owner to sell him the property. As
long as the affidavits remained in the court clerk'ôs official record, the
landowner did not have clear title and was prevented from selling to any
other buyers.

These affidavits put a "úcloud" on the title to the property, giving Teal
an unlimited amount of time to arrange for another purchaser to buy the
property from him. If a property owner objected to Teal's legal tactics, he
threatened litigation. Investigators determined that Teal has bought and
sold hundreds of properties, turning more than a million dollars profit in
this manner.

According to the lawsuit, the title to more than 150 parcels of Florida
land has been illegally clouded by Teal's actions. Owners have also
suffered damages from lost opportunities to sell their land because of
Teal's fraudulent scheme. About one-third of the properties involved owners
who live in Florida.

Teal's actions as alleged violate the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade
Practices Act and also constitute the common law offense of slander of
title. The Attorney General seeks an order blocking Teal from buying
additional Florida land and erasing the fraudulent affidavits from official
county records. The lawsuit also seeks penalties of $10,000 for each of the
more than 150 violations under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade
Practices Act, or $15,000 for each violation against a person over 60 years
of age.

Investigators discovered that Teal is operating similar scams in Alabama,
Arizona, Mississippi, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas and
Washington. To date, these other states do not appear to have taken action
against Teal.

A copy of the Attorney General’Äôs complaint is available at:
http://myfloridalegal.com/webfiles.nsf/WF/MRAY-6EQPZ4/$file/TealComplaint+.pdf


1 comment:

  1. Anonymous6:17 AM

    8. Yes the AG of Florida has filed a civil case against me that he is losing very badly since all people have the capacity to file a lawsuit just like the ones above and the AG can’t find one person who lost money because of my actions. See the Naples Newspaper article at

    http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2006/may/29/clouded_titles_land_investor_headed_trial/

    Todd TEal

    ReplyDelete