A federal judge on Tuesday sentenced one of the top buyers of Wayne County tax foreclosed homes to two years in prison and to pay about $1.1 million in restitution for defrauding overseas investors.
Sameer Beydoun, owner of Metro Property Group in Dearborn, pleaded guilty this spring to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Beydoun admitted he marketed Detroit houses to foreign buyers as completely refurbished and occupied by tenants, when in some cases the homes weren’t even owned by the company, were in disrepair and were vacant.
The crime was “emotionally and financially devastating to his victims who invested and lost their life savings,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Frances Carlson said during the sentencing Tuesday.
Carlson said to “keep the scheme going” Beydoun would send “rent” money to the investor, but in some cases it was money given to him by other investors. The victims were in many cases left with substantial unpaid tax bills and large repair costs on homes that were not renovated as promised, she said.
After the initial fraud charges, Beydoun’s attorney, Steve Fishman, said his client had a vast majority of the homes rehabilitated and found renters for the units, passing on more than $500,000 in income to the investors.
“After the original fraud, Mr. Beydoun made efforts to do the right thing,” Fishman said.
Beydoun apologized during the hearing, saying his investors put “their trust in me and I betrayed them.”
Beydoun had been a top buyer of the county’s tax foreclosed homes, bidding on nearly 950 properties in 2011 and 2012, according to county records.
U.S. District Judge Paul Borman called Beydoun’s crime a “sophisticated offense” that preyed on “vulnerable” victims, but credited Beydoun with his cooperation with authorities after he was charged.
He faced up to 30 years in prison.