Argentine couple alleges $3 million loss in real estate Ponzi scheme

By Elizabeth Alt | May 28, 2018

An Argentinian couple filed a complaint in the Southern Florida District Court on May 16 against multiple parties that the couple claims duped them into investing $300 million into real estate they never owned.

An Argentinian couple filed a complaint in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Miami Division, on May 16 against multiple parties that the couple claims duped them into investing more than $3 million into real estate they never owned. 

Nestor Kovalivker, and Romina Buontempo filed the complaint against Team Real Estate Management LLC, Team Real Estate Development LLC, Highland Forest Investments LLP, Christian Finkelberg, Ruben Santurian, Diego Besga, Marcelo Schamy, Valeria Seminara and attorney Darren Wade Mellinger of Mellinger LLP for multiple counts of fraud, unjust enrichment, breach of fiduciary duty and negligence. 

The couple claims the defendants have an ongoing scheme that abuses “the United States’ banking system by receiving multimillion-dollar wire transfers from foreign nationals into the United States for their own personal enrichment providing the victims with no ownership interest in properties or return of their monies and repeating the process. In essence a Ponzi scheme.”

The plaintiffs claimed, “Defendants fraudulently induced plaintiffs into sending the money with the willfully, wanton intent to deprive plaintiffs of their money.”

The plaintiffs claim the defendants solicited a total of $3.05 million from the foreign couple to invest in a multimillion dollar apartment complex in Georgia and entered into an oral agreement for the plaintiffs to wire money to the defendants for the property purchase. 

The plaintiffs claim that the defendants sent a few initial monthly payments for purported rental income to keep the scheme going, and after the payments stopped, the victims realized their money was used for the defendants’ personal gain. The plaintiffs claim they do not own any property. 

The complaint states the defendants sent phony statements of their property upkeep and have created an “elaborate infrastructure to perpetuate these frauds which involves marketing in newspapers, conducting seminars in luxurious hotels in foreign countries, multiple Miami-Dade residents, various Florida limited liability companies and a Florida attorney who acts as an 'escrow agent' for the transactions.” 

A footnote in the complaint claims Mellinger “has a prior history of misconduct which according to Florida Bar records includes knowingly making false statements of material fact or law to a third person, engaging in dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation and misconduct/violation regarding his trust account.”

The complaint also references another case in the district court against the defendants for the same claims.

The plaintiffs request a trial by jury and are seeking punitive damages, loss of income, loss of promised profits, damages and prejudgment interest, costs and attorney’s fees. 

The plaintiffs are represented by Humberto Rubio Jr., Esq., of the law firm of Rubio and Associates, P.A. in Miami.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Miami Division, Case Number 1:18-cv-21962-CMA

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