NY Times: 'Flip This House' Star Accused of Fraud - Posted by Sadi

Posted by PC42 on June 05, 2007 at 11:02:11:

I didn’t say I’d buy a house from her, but she’s good TV. :slight_smile:

NY Times: ‘Flip This House’ Star Accused of Fraud - Posted by Sadi

Posted by Sadi on June 01, 2007 at 14:39:03:

I’ve never actually see the show, but I know many of you have–check out this article in today’s NY Times:


June 1, 2007
’Flip This House’ Star Accused of Fraud
Filed at 5:01 p.m. ET

ATLANTA (AP) – On an episode of A&E’s popular reality series ‘‘Flip This House,’’ Atlanta businessman Sam Leccima sits in front of a run-down house and calls buying and selling real estate his passion.

Now authorities and legal filings claim that Leccima’s true passion was a series of scams that included faking the home renovations shown on the cable TV show and claiming to have sold houses he never owned.

‘‘This is, indeed, a con artist,’’ said Sonya McGee, an Atlanta pharmaceutical representative who says Leccima took $4,000 from her in an investment scheme.

McGee and others say Leccima’s episodes of ‘‘Flip This House,’’ A&E’s most popular show, were elaborate hoaxes. His friends and family were presented as potential homebuyers and ‘‘sold’’ signs were slapped in front of unsold houses. They say the home repairs – the lynchpin of the show – were actually quick or temporary patch jobs designed to look good on camera.

Leccima says he never claimed to own the homes. While not acknowledging his televised renovations were staged, he didn’t deny it and suggested that A&E and Departure Films, the production company that makes the show, knew exactly what he was doing.

‘‘Ask anybody who works in television how a reality show is made and you’ll find that ours was a very typical approach,’’ Leccima said in a telephone interview.

When it recently learned of the claims against Leccima, the cable network pulled reruns of his episodes off the air and wiped his mentions from its Web site.

Leccima, 36, presented himself as a successful real estate investor during the 2006 season of the cable show, which depicted him buying, refurbishing and reselling Atlanta-area homes for profits of $77,000 and more. But Leccima doesn’t have a real estate license – it was revoked by the Georgia Real Estate Commission in 2005, with the panel ruling he ‘‘does not bear a good reputation for honesty, trustworthiness, integrity, and competence.’’ Now he’s under investigation by the Georgia Secretary of State’s office for securities fraud.

Leccima said his lawyer advised him against talking about the investigation or the claims made by McGee and others. He did say that some of the criticism stems from his high profile.

‘‘I’m a business person and I think I have as many people that like me as don’t like me,’’ he said. ‘‘Anyone who puts their face on national television should realize they’ve signed a Faustian deal of sorts.’’

However, Atlanta-area real estate records show Leccima never owned several of the homes he’s been shown fixing up on television.

WAGA-TV in Atlanta, which first aired the claims against Leccima, has shown footage from inside one of the homes, which had mismatched wooden floors and unpainted patched walls that were out of the view of TV cameras on ‘‘Flip This House.’’

McGee said she attended what was billed as a wrap party at one home. But when the party was shown on ‘‘Flip This House,’’ it was presented as an open house at which someone expresses interest in buying the property.

New York-based Departure Films did not return repeated telephone calls to its offices by The Associated Press. A&E spokesman Dan Silberman said the network has stopped working with Leccima, who doesn’t appear in this season’s episodes.

‘‘We are dismayed to learn of these allegations,’’ read a statement issued by the network. ‘‘A&E Television Networks is not a party to any of the transactions shown in Flip This House and has not received any formal complaints about the properties or sales.’’

Silberman said the network – a joint venture of Hearst Corp., Walt Disney Co. and General Electric Co.'s NBC Universal – doesn’t investigate claims made by people on the show, opting to take them at their word.

The Better Business Bureau gives Leccima’s company, Leccima Capital Partners, LLP, an ‘‘unsatisfactory’’ rating, saying four complaints have been filed against it in three years.

One of the complaint was from McGee, who said she considered Leccima a friend – even vacationing in Brazil with him and his wife. She said the Leccimas stopped returning her calls once she started asking for her money back.

Dan Ward, an Atlanta-area youth minister, said he told state investigators that Leccima took about $100,000 from him to invest in real estate, but, as far as he knows, Leccima never developed anything with it. He hasn’t received his money back.

McGee said appearing on the TV show made it easier for Leccima to find such investors: ‘‘As soon as that first episode aired, he got phone calls from people saying, ‘I love you. Where can I send you some money?’’’

Fact of life - Posted by Robert Campbell

Posted by Robert Campbell on June 04, 2007 at 17:48:12:

The truth has never been as profitable as lies.

Robert Campbell

What about the Realtor? - Posted by TAT

Posted by TAT on June 03, 2007 at 20:13:34:

The realtor (Angie) that found his deals and then turned around and supposedly sold them is still on the show. She is now the “new” crew from Atlanta. She obviously knew what was going on.

Shocker…not - Posted by Potash

Posted by Potash on June 02, 2007 at 15:02:06:

For those that only read headlines and not the articles… Leccima was only arrested for stealing money from investors, not from the misrepresentations he made on the TV show. If the authorities started arresting people for making fraudlent TV shows, A&E would be off the air by the end of the month.

fwiw: The hapless do-gooders at the New York TImes didn’t write the aritcle, they just reprinted it, the original research work was done by an Atlanta TV station.

Big surprise - Posted by Doug Pretorius

Posted by Doug Pretorius on June 01, 2007 at 18:00:20:

I’ve only rehabbed a couple of houses (not my thing)but even I know the numbers and timetables in these shows don’t add up.

Remember the time when they put in gorgeous hardwood floors throughout a 2,500 sqft house for $2,000? Or the time they spent $500 on landscaping and it increased the value by $15,000? Or the time they went $85k over budget on a $200k house and still made $25k profit?

COME ON, PEOPLE! If that’s not creative accounting, I don’t know what is!

Re: NY Times: ‘Flip This House’ Star Accused…aud - Posted by David C. Cooper

Posted by David C. Cooper on June 01, 2007 at 15:40:28:

All these stories about “Flip That House” have me wondering if this is why Richard Davis took his Trademark Properties off of the show to make his own. I haven’t heard any complaints about his company and he seems to be one of the legitimate investors on that show.

Having a experience working on film crews in Hollywood, I noticed a lot of incosistencies with many episodes of “Flip That House.” When I saw the episodes with Richard and when I watched his new show, “The Real Deal,” I wasn’t able to poke many holes in the episodes. So, for now, it seems Richard actually is (forgive me) the real deal.

Re: NY Times: 'Flip T - Posted by RR

Posted by RR on June 01, 2007 at 15:29:55:

You almost get the impression that Mr Lecimma thinks he is on Trump’s Apprentice show, that he is a high roller wanabe who is trying to prove that he is shrewd and is some sort of business world royalty that is above the level of working man.
I really doubt that they flip 20 properties a month. That would be 240 properties a year.

At an average of $40k of profit a property that mean their annual gross profit would be $9.6 million before taxes.

At an average of $20k of profit a property that mean their annual gross profit would be $4.8 million before taxes.

Unless he was to show me his tax returns I would not believe what anybody says on a realty(reality hehe:-) tv show.

He said something about how he started the business with his brother buy using sheer “creative genius.”

Yeah, but She’s Hot ******* - Posted by PC42

Posted by PC42 on June 04, 2007 at 13:49:00:

Who said he got arrested??? - Posted by IB (NJ)

Posted by IB (NJ) on June 04, 2007 at 06:17:47:

Can’t find that tidbit of information in the article.


Re: Shocker…not - Posted by Eric in FL

Posted by Eric in FL on June 02, 2007 at 19:16:49:

Are you stating that the NY Times is not a truthful news source? I am going to stop using it to wrap fish or mop up any kind of excrement I can find.

Best Regards,
Eric in FL

Real Deal… - Posted by lukeNC

Posted by lukeNC on June 04, 2007 at 12:37:42:

I noticed on Real Deal that the Davis crew doesnt do much flipping. I watched the first 2 shows and was bored to tears. I guess they’re trying to make those characters down there somewhat interesting. They need to try harder.

The flipping shows are all staged and full of half truths and outright lies.

Except Property Ladder, thats the gold standard.

I like the Montelongo’s, hard driving and you love to hate 'em, but I enjoy their show.

Re: NY Times: ‘Flip This House’ Star Accused…aud - Posted by RR

Posted by RR on June 01, 2007 at 15:47:50:

I’m amazed that none of these people have been sued. Why aren’t these buyers having home inspections, wtf? Selling the houses the first day on the market, give me a break! When were these shows taped? Surely not this year, the market is as slow as I can remember for 15years!!

The quality of the rehabs are pure crap. I can’t believe these people are making the money they claim on these houses… The prices they are paying their subs are def make believe. Also how are they getting all of this work done in a couple of weeks,Please…
I just feel sorry for some of these poor people that decide to do these flips based on these show.

Re: NY Times: 'Flip T - Posted by Jimmy Jam

Posted by Jimmy Jam on June 02, 2007 at 19:38:28:

This thief is so full of crap, it isn’t worth the copy he’s getting here. Give it a year. We’ll be reading about his incarceration.

Re: NY Times: 'Flip T - Posted by Justin

Posted by Justin on June 02, 2007 at 09:40:43:

flip doesn’t mean rehab meaning 40k/deal

Re: Yeah, but She’s Hot ******* - Posted by lukeNC

Posted by lukeNC on June 05, 2007 at 09:53:35:

i’ll drink to that!!

No one said anything about… - Posted by Barry (FL)

Posted by Barry (FL) on June 02, 2007 at 22:45:06:

it not being good to wipe up excrement. As far as fish are concerned, I wouldn’t do that to perfectly good fish.

Re: Property Ladder - Posted by Jack

Posted by Jack on June 05, 2007 at 07:22:27:

Property Ladder may not stage stuff to make the rehabbers look good, but they do, imho, stage/edit to make the host look good. And property ladder just takes the word of the rehabber that the house sold for X Dollars on Y Date, the producers don’t research to confirm the numbers (I have detected faux sales on more than one occasion on that show).

Re: Real Deal… - Posted by Lyal

Posted by Lyal on June 05, 2007 at 05:22:43:

I don’t know if hard driving is a good description. Dishonest, disrespectful, demanding shysters may be closer.

If you check the threads further down, Potash had done some quick research and determined that the Montelongo brothers have both filed for bankruptcy within the past few years and one of them had recently petitioned the court saying he couldn’t afford to pay more than 150 bucks a month towards his debt. It was also determined that several of the properties they had rehabbed and sold are actually still on the market.

Re: Real Deal… - Posted by PC42

Posted by PC42 on June 04, 2007 at 13:45:18:

I love how every project starts on a Monday and has to be done by Friday or it will be doomsday. Does Ginger buy her Daytimer pages a week at a time?? Plan ahead babe! Of course, they do plan way ahead and all of the drama is just made for TV baloney. But it sure does get old hearing about their contrived urgency. But watching that isn’t a bad way to kill an hour on Saturday night and drink a beer or two.