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Press Release

Realtor Sentenced To Prison For Defrauding Vacationers Out Of More Than $200,000

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida

Tampa, Florida – U.S. District Judge Steven D. Merryday has sentenced Michael Carleton (53, Bradenton) to 21 months in federal prison for mail fraud. As part of his sentence, the Court also entered a money judgment in the amount of $200,000, which constitutes the proceeds of the mail fraud. In addition, the Court entered an order requiring Carleton to pay restitution to the identified victims of the offense in the total amount of $136,098.96.

Carleton pleaded guilty on November 25, 2015.

According to court documents, from at least April 2012 through July, 2013, more than 70 individuals and families had entered into rental contracts via email with Carleton to rent vacation properties  on Anna Maria Island. The contracts called for the renters to pay for the rental period prior to taking possession of the property. As the vacation rental dates approached, many victims were contacted by Carleton and given various excuses for why they could not be placed in their rental property, including that the properties needed repairs, or that he was filing bankruptcy and all monies needed to be secured by the trustee. In some cases, the victims (accompanied by family or friends) physically arrived at the rental properties, only to find another family already utilizing the property. In many cases, Carleton would rent and receive up-front payment from numerous renters for the same rental properties, for the same period of time. Victims arrived in Florida from all over the country, including one victim from as far away as Germany.

Over the course of the scheme, Carleton fraudulently received more than $200,000 from his victims. Some ultimately received refunds, only after threatening to or actually contacting the properties’ owners, or the Holmes Beach Police Department.

This case was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Rachel Jones.

Updated April 4, 2016

Financial Fraud