An 83-year-old Florida woman was arrested after authorities say she defrauded dozens of people out of hundreds of thousands of dollars through a scheme targeting prospective homebuyers.
Lucille Poag was arrested on charges including organized fraud, second-degree grand theft and prohibited acts by a loan broker, according to an arrest report.
The arrest report said Poag, who had been a licensed real estate broker in Florida since March 1990 but had her license revoked in November 2016 and March 2018, used “deceptive advertisements” in the Miami Times newspaper to attract unsuspecting homebuyers to her office in North Miami.
The homebuyers would give Poag $1,800 deposits on the promise that she would secure mortgages and government grants for them, the report said. Poag would lie to the homebuyers about having direct connections to a government grant program intended for first time homebuyers and low income families, the report said.
Once Poag received the deposits, she would appropriate the funds for her own use and “would either give victims a litany of excuses as to why the grants were not materializing or ignore the victims altogether,” the report said.
Investigators spoke with more than 40 prospective homebuyers who gave Poag an $1,800 down payment, and authorities said homebuyers lost more than $400,000 collectively in deposits placed with Poag over a period of several years, the report said.
While most prospective homebuyers never heard from Poag again, investigators interviewed some who did receive a refund of their down payments that “were obtained only after several years of pursuing Poag through small claims lawsuits, posting negative reviews on social media platforms, or calling the police,” the report said.
Since 2016 there have been at least 10 administrative complaints filed against Poag for unlicensed real estate activity with three resulting in administrative final orders against her, the report said. It also noted that prospective homebuyers had been complaining to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation and the Better Business Bureau and on social media about Poag since as early as 2009.
Poag was being held on $45,000 bond, Miami-Dade jail records showed.