Real Estate Agent Recruiter Charged with Fraud in Alleged Sales Commission Inflation Scheme
NEWARK, N.J. – A real estate agent recruiter was arrested today on charges stemming from a scheme to inflate sales commissions, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Russell Stinnett, 54, of Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina was indicted by a federal grand jury on Sept. 23, 2019, on five counts of wire fraud. He is scheduled to appear later today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Bristow Marchant in Charlestown, South Carolina, federal court. Stinnett will be arraigned in Newark federal court at a later date.
According to the indictment:
Between January 2017 and April 2019, Stinnett engaged in a scheme to misrepresent the sales value of real estate sold by agents that he recruited to work for the victim real estate company in order to boost his own commission payouts. Stinnett obtained sales data for the agents he recruited, then doctored the data to make it appear as if his recruits sold more real estate than they actually had. Stinnett then submitted the doctored sales data to his employer using his business email or a commission claim portal that was received and processed in New Jersey. Stinnett’s employer paid him commissions on sales that his recruits never actually made, resulting in a loss of approximately $1 million to his employer.
The five counts of wire fraud with which Stinnett is charged each carry a maximum potential punishment of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, or twice the gross loss or gain caused by the offense.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie in Newark, with the investigation leading to the indictment.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ari B. Fontecchio of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit in Newark.
The charges and allegations in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.