Twin Cities House-Flipper Pleads Guilty to $3 Million Investor Fraud Scheme
MINNEAPOLIS – A Twin Cities house-flipper has pleaded guilty to defrauding real estate investors out of more than $3 million, announced U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger.
According to court documents, from 2018 through December 2020, Suzanne Griffiths, 46, currently residing in Arizona, executed a scheme to defraud individuals by soliciting investments in her Minnesota-based house-flipping businesses. Griffiths was active in the house-flipping community and frequently attended seminars of a national real estate investment coaching program. Through these seminars, Griffiths networked with other individuals and pitched her own house-flipping businesses: Level 5 Properties, LLC; 45 North Investment Properties, LLC; and Our Town Properties. Griffiths frequently contacted seminar attendees about potential investment opportunities in properties owned by her companies. Griffiths promised investors various manners of repayment in return for investments. Griffiths frequently made material misrepresentations about the status of real estate projects, failed to take promised action, falsified documents, and misappropriated investments for her own use.
According to court documents, in November 2018, Griffiths solicited a $100,000 investment from an investor to finance the renovation of a property. Griffiths promised the investor that they would hold second position on the mortgage and falsely assured the investor that the necessary mortgage documents had been filed with the appropriate county. In reality, Griffiths never filed the documents and, as a result, the investor lost their entire investment.
According to court documents, in July 2020, Griffiths solicited a $70,000 investment from another investor. Months later, to facilitate the solicitation of a second investment for renovations of a property, Griffiths provided the investor with information, printed on title company letterhead, demonstrating the potential of the requested investment. The investor later contacted the title company and learned that Griffiths had altered the information provided by the title company to intentionally omit numerous preexisting encumbrances on the property. The investor lost their entire $70,000 from the first investment.
In total, Griffiths intentionally misappropriated at least $3,197,109.47 of investor funds.
Griffiths pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Joan N. Ericksen to one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering. A sentencing date has not been set.
This case is the result of an investigation led by IRS – Criminal Investigations and the United States Postal Inspection Service.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jordan L. Sing is prosecuting the case.