Friday, December 19, 2014

Gloucester Co. man charged in $3 million mortgage fraud and investment scams

Randy Poulson, 42, of Woolwich Township, N.J., is charged in a $3 million scheme that not only allegedly bilked at least 25 homeowners out of their distressed mortgages, but also then conned investors into a pyramid scheme that involved those properties, according to the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey. (Photo from LinkedIn)
Randy Poulson, 42, of Woolwich Township, N.J., is charged in a $3 million scheme that not only allegedly bilked at least 25 homeowners out of their distressed mortgages, but also then conned investors into a pyramid scheme that involved those properties, according to the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey. (Photo from LinkedIn)

Randy Poulson describes himself on his LinkedIn account as "New Jersey's Real Estate Investment Expert!"

But in a federal criminal complaint unsealed Wednesday, prosecutors allege he is another run-of-the-mill mortgage scam artist and investment fraudster.

Poulson, 42, of Woolwich Township, N.J., is charged in a $3 million scheme that not only allegedly bilked at least 25 homeowners out of their distressed mortgages, but also then conned investors into a Ponzi scheme that involved those properties, according to the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey. He faces one count of mail fraud.

Through the alleged "two-pronged scheme," prosecutors said Poulson used investors' money to pay for personal expenses that included high-end child daycare, Philadelphia Union tickets, and rent-to-own payments on a Ventnor beach house.

The FBI's investigation into Poulson began in 2011, according to the complaint.

"In one prong of the scheme, Poulson caused distressed homeowners facing foreclosure to 'sell' their residences to Poulson for Poulson's return promise to pay the homeowners' mortgages," the complaint reads. "In the second prong of the scheme, Poulson successfully solicited more than 50 private investors to invest money into Poulson's companies which purportedly bought and sold real estate. ... Although Poulson claimed that he would use the private investment money to acquire and rehabilitate real estate properties, in reality Poulson spent the private money investments on personal expenses and repaid, in part, other prior investors."

Poulson is scheduled for a 2 p.m. bail hearing in U.S. District Court in Camden on Wednesday afternoon. He was arrested at his home earlier in the day.

Poulson is described as a past president of South Jersey Investors group and owner of Poulson-Russo LLC. Working phone numbers could not be found for either organization.

The alleged scheme was supported by three weekend seminars, speeches at monthly dinners, and private tutorial sessions "purporting to teach real estate investing tips to individuals who paid fees to attend," the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

If convicted, Poulson could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gain or loss from the offense.

A message left for his court-appointed attorney, Richard Coughlin of the Federal Public Defender's Office in Camden, was not immediately returned.


Contact Brian X. McCrone at 215-854-2267 or bmccrone@philly.com. Follow @brianxmccrone on Twitter.

Contact the Breaking News Desk at 215-854-2443; BreakingNewsDesk@philly.com. Follow @phillynews on Twitter.

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