Erik Estrada REAL ESTATE SCAM
I have seen tellie ads for Erik Estrada's Real Estate deals. Here is
a look at how scammy the whole thing is. If one person doesn't get scammed because of my posting, my purpose will have been served. Cheers
The American dream set on dying land
Erik Estrada is spokesman for NRPIa company selling land that
predates modern zoning and usually is bought unseen.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
This investment looked good on paper
RICH PEDRONCELLI/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
By BRIAN MELLEY
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Last Updated:January 7200505:40:33 AM PST
ALTURAS - In the evergreen-cloaked hills and sagebrush flats near this
Northern California outpostdreams are for sale.Visions of a
vacation getawaya nest for retirement or an investment in rural land
have lured thousands of buyers to California Pines.But more than 3
decades after a nowdeparted developer filed plans for a subdivision
herethe promise appears little more than a mirage in the high desert.
In a development platted for 15000 lotsfewer than 400 houses dot the
hills or surround the glorified lakea muddy cattle reservoir that
shrivels in the heat.
That hasn't stopped Jeffrey Frieden and Robert Friedman2 Orange
County entrepreneurs who once sold stereos and back rubsfrom
resurrecting sales in this and other left-for-dead subdivisions across
From Florida to Washington state - and coming soon to developments in
other states - their Irvine-based company has sold thousands of lots
in subdivisions that mostly predate planning laws requiring sewer
water and power.
"We are riding on the coattails of developers from the '50s and '60s"
said Friedman"We identify these thingswe re-expose them to the
worldand our clients in the long run get incredible values"
Through the Internet and television infomercials in English and
Spanish featuring faded actor Erik Estradatheir companyNational
Recreational Properties Inc.is aggressively marketing land that
looks cheap to distant buyers.
But prices of10 are steeply inflated compared with surrounding land.
In some cases prosecutors have charged misrepresentation and forced
compensationbut many real estate experts and consumer advocates
offer simple advice to those pondering the appealing ads:Buyer
Many lots changed hands
More than half the taxable lots in remote Modoc County lie in
California Pinesbut only a few hundred people live in the
Most of those who have bought land in Cal Pines live hundreds of miles
away.All the lots have sold at some point and many have changed hands
- through traditional salestax auctions and foreclosures.
Stillthe prospective buyers keep coming.
In 2000the Rev.Vika Wills led about 10 members of her Bay Area
congregation to buy their own lots in what she hoped would be a heaven
"They said it's a good deal" Wills said of the NRPI sales force.
"They said it would be fast growth.I thought maybe it's a good idea
to buy when it's still cheap"
4 years laterafter a few of her congregants lost their land
because they couldn't make paymentsthe pastor of the Emmanuel
Revival Church in Menlo Park isn't so confident she made a wise
Wills spent more than $64000 on 4 lots that would probably sell on
the open market for $3000 to $6000 apieceaccording to local real
She's now thinking of selling.
It's an all-too-common reaction.In California and some other parts of
the nationthe prospect of spending 5 figures for land is alluring
to those trying to achieve the American dream.
Yetin Modoc Countywhere the population shrank in the last census
and unemployment is highreal estate is as affordable as it gets.
3-bedroom houses near Alturas can sell for $70000.
For unfarmable raw land"$1000 an acre … would be a fair amount"
said Cheryl Knochthe county treasurer and tax collector"I guess
people don't research what property values are in the county"
Speaking of land sales in generalStephen Brobeckexecutive director
of the Consumer Feder-ation of Americasaid:"If the land is marked
up by over 50 percentthat would probably represent a consumer
rip-off.And if the price is marked up 5 to 10 times thatthen the
consumer is simply being fleeced"
William Dudasof NorwalkConn.bought land in Lehigh AcresFla.
in 1966 for $2095.He sold it in 2002 for $700 to NRPIwhich sold it
4 days later for $10900 to a couple from LawrenceMass.
according to Lee CountyFla.property records.
"I feel sorry for that person" Dudas said about the buyer.
The same lot was taken back by NRPI in November after the buyer
defaulted on the mortgageaccording to court records.It was resold
Lehigh Acresa 30-minute drive inland from Fort Myers on Florida's
Gulf Coastwas among the many poorly planned subdivisions that lured
uninformed buyers in earlier decades.
Known as "antiquated subdivisions" to land expertsthey are vestiges
of land speculation and planning before the dawn of modern zoning.
Most such subdivisions are located in Floridathe desert Southwest
the Poconos of Pennsylvania and several counties in Texasaccording
to a report by Bill Spikowskia planning consultantand Hubert
Strouda geography professor at Arkansas State University.
Modern zoning lawssuch as California's Parcel Map Actwould
prohibit many of these developments today.
Friedman and Frieden said they run NRPI according to state and federal
PLEASE SEE NEXT POST FOR CONTINUATION OF THIS ARTICLE
Re: Erik Estrada REAL ESTATE SCAM
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regulations and personally resolve buyers' rare complaints.
Lawsuits settle quickly
5 years agoprosecutors in Santa Cruz County targeted a company
they operatedLand Disposition Co.for claiming buyers could build
estates in the Happyland subdivision where a previous developer
platted lots in the early 20th century.
Buyers complained that they couldn't find the properties because the
roads on the maps didn't exist.Friedman said company brochures warned
buyers to inspect the property in advance.
"The people we talked to were mostly immigrants" said prosecutor
Morgan Taylor"They wanted part of the American dream"
County prosecutors sued the company for misleading advertisingsaying
the mountainside land was unbuildable.The company denied the
allegationsbut quickly settledoffering refunds to buyers who came
3 years laterhoweverSanta Cruz property records showthe
company sold the lot to another buyer for $11500.
County Assessor Gary Hazelton said the company doesn't do much
business in the county anymore.The brochures also provide better
Another Frieden-Friedman companyReal Estate Disposition Corp.hit
similar problems in Santa Monica in 1992by promising ocean views at
56 condominiumsthe city attorney's office said.
Newspaper ads showed the beach and what appeared to be Malibu Pier
which was miles away.The city attorney's office accused the company
of false and deceptive advertisingunfair competition and
bait-and-switch to lure consumersaccording to court papers.
Admitting no wrongdoingthe company quickly settledagreeing to a
permanent injunction and paying $7400 in costs and penalties.
"We're not looking to fight with anybody" Friedman said"If we make
a mistake - and we do every now and againwe're not perfect - if we
make a mistakeour goal is to make it right"
Friedman said he wanted to know more about a couple from Brooklyn
N.Y.who said they were misled about land they bought in Lehigh
Judy Rajkumar said she and her husbandJuniorbought therehoping
to set aside a plot for retirement.But when they learned some1 on
their tour bus bought "waterfront" land along a canalthey wanted the
same.The salesman sent a videotape depicting canalside lotsand the
Rajkumarsnatives of Trinidadliked what they saw.They traded in
the other property and purchased 2 adjoining lotseach more
expensive than their first.
An aerial photo from the Lee County Property Appraiser's Office
howevershows no canal on the property.
The couple paid $24300 for the 2 lots that cost NRPI $5000 just
3 months earlierrecords show.
"You think if we were aware of that we would go for it?" Judy Rajkumar
said"You think we're that stupid?"
If the story was truethe salesman would probably be firedFriedman
saidadding he's insulted by comparison to old-time land hustlers.
The company has recycled lots in California Citya 2-hour drive
north of Los Angelesand in the Florida subdivisions of Lehigh Acres
Palm Coast and Port Charlotte.
Promotional videos of landlocked Lehigh Acres show sweeping footage of
white sand beaches that are about an hour's drive away.An alpine lake
depicted in a Cal Pines ad is Blue Lake30miles from the development.
Businesses lead to real estate
Friedman and Friedenboth 43started after high school with a string
of stereo businesses.Frieden tried selling cars and ph1sand both
men tried to set up a chain of chiropractic massage businesses.
Throughoutthey dabbled in real estateeventually founding an online
auction company that sells raw land across the West.That led to NRPI.
Seeking a high-profile spokesmanthe 2 picked Estrada.
Estradaremembered as a likable motorcycle cop on "CHiPs" also was
the star of a popular Mexican soap opera that airs on U.S.Latin
"They approached me because they were looking for somebody who dealt
with people on the street" Estrada said.
In addition to getting paidEstrada is given a lot in each of the subdivisions.
In Cal Pines promotional materialEstrada exclaims:"This place is
gorgeous! Take my word for it because I own property there myself" A
sign along California Pines' main road touts "Erik Estrada's Home
But Estrada said he had no plans for building on any of his NRPI lots.
Privately held NRPI doesn't have to release its earningsbut a
statement filed by Frieden in an Orange County lawsuit said the
company earned approximately $562828 a month between January and June
In struggling Modoc Countyofficials said they sometimes field calls
from unsatisfied buyers; they usually refer the complaints to a state
"People complain'This isn't fairthey didn't tell the truth'" said
Knochthe county treasurer.
On the Net:California Pines:www.calpines.com
Re: Re: Erik Estrada REAL ESTATE SCAM
so what do you chaps think? Anyone out there have good experiences with Erik Estrada Real Estate? Cheers
Port Charlotte land grabs
Noticed this post by jumping around the Web, and recalled the Erik Estrada ads not long after my father had purchased a condo in '03 (completely unrelated to this, and legitimate). He found the whole notion funny.
The land being referenced is placed in a couple of different areas -- 1 is several miles from any type of water but on your way toward the gulf beaches; the other is just the the western border of I-75. If you drive it, you can see the miles of parceled streets on a GPS Navigator. You will not find one very important thing: Homes. While there are roads, there appears to be no utility connection -- no power, questionable sewerage, probably no water -- so any land probably makes good for an expensive camping-out site if you can set a tent on it for the night. It's otherwise hilarious to see this, since the streets are so closely linked with barely the space for a decent lot on any block.
The link below shows a great example of one such alleged subdivision where there actually are named streets, but few if any homes, and is mostly overgrown.
Best to look at that one in satellite or hybrid view in Google maps to get a real feel for it.
The next example is a good one where you clearly see NO homes, but land on what is now basically silted canals.
As of early 2004, I can tell you that's a pretty accurate picture. And given the devastation of Hurrican Charlie in 2004, anything that would have been on the Gulf Side of the area in the above would have been very severly damaged. Given that the satellite aerial is from 2006, it shows what's now really there (nothing).
This land is being bought by the same high IQ crowd that watched Estrada in that lame show he was in.
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