Louisiana Man Charged in $2 Million Nationwide Advertising Scheme to Defraud Realtors
PITTSBURGH - A Louisiana resident has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh on charges of mail fraud, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.
The 11-count indictment named Rex Alan Harris, aka Michael Harris, Rex Rogan, Rex Alan, dba “Agents By City,” 40, of Covington, La., as a defendant. The indictment was returned on April 19, and unsealed yesterday following Harris’ arrest in Louisiana. His arraignment is scheduled for May 23, 2016, in U.S. District Court in Western Pennsylvania.
According to the indictment, since 2008, Harris defrauded hundreds of realtors nationwide whom he promised television and internet advertising to generate home sales. Realtors were induced to pay thousands of dollars for advertising on major television networks based upon the realtors’ zip codes. However, the advertising never occurred, and Harris and others spent the money for their personal benefit including purchases of tens of thousands of dollars in merchandise through PayPal, Footlocker and Nike.com, and New Orleans Saints season tickets, totaling in excess of $2 million.
Realtors who paid money to any of the following entities - “Our Family First Realty,” “Better Realty Deals,” “Amazing Realty Deals,” “The Top Agent/Monolith Media Group,” “American Real Estate Idols” or “Agents by City” - may be victims and are encouraged to call the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) hotline at 1-800-CALL-FBI or 1-800-2255-324.
The law provides for a total sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 at each count or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
Assistant United States Attorney Gregory C. Melucci is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the FBI conducted the investigation leading to the indictment in this case.
An indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.