By Jody Coultas, J.D.
Three Florida real estate investors have been charged by a federal grand jury for conspiring to rig bids submitted through the online property foreclosure auction process in Palm Beach County, Florida, the Department of Justice announced.
High-volume investors Avi Stern, Christopher Graeve, and Stuart Hankin were charged in the federal district court in Miami with conspiring to rig bids during online auctions in Palm Beach County, Florida in order to obtain foreclosed properties at suppressed prices from January 2012 until June 2015. The grand jury returned the indictments on November 2.
The indictments are the first filed in Florida, and are a result of an ongoing investigation by the Antitrust Division and the FBI’s Miami Division. The Antitrust Division has prosecuted similar bid rigging claims in Alabama, California, Georgia, and North Carolina, resulting in more than 100 guilty pleas and convictions.
"These charges demonstrate that the Antitrust Division will uncover and prosecute collusion by real estate investors, regardless of whether their conduct is carried out in person, or in texts, online chats or through other electronic means," said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division.
MainStory: TopStory Antitrust AntitrustDivisionNews FloridaNews
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