LEE COUNTY, Fla. — The Florida Department of Law Enforcement arrested a second person Tuesday in connection with an elaborate real estate scam that has spanned six Florida counties.
What You Need To Know
- Kiana Russell, 22, was arrested Tuesday in connection with an elaborate real estate scam that has spanned six Florida counties
- She is accused of conspiring with Tabria Josey to steal nearly $300,000 from at least 45 victims
- They are accused of renting or selling properties they didn't own to unsuspecting individuals
Kiana Russell, 22, is accused of conspiring with Tabria Josey to steal nearly $300,000 from dozens of victims who believed they were buying or renting homes, according to FDLE officials.
“The defendant took advantage of Florida’s red-hot real estate market to rip off homebuyers and renters," Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said of Josey in a May 11 emailed statement. "Her crimes spanned six counties, involved 25 properties and tricked consumers into parting with nearly $300,000. As the investigation into this elaborate real estate scheme remains active, my Statewide Prosecutors will continue to work with law enforcement to ensure the defendant faces justice for her crimes."
FDLE officials accused Josey of listing properties for sale on various real estate websites without the owners’ knowledge and then impersonating the owners. Once a victim committed to buying the property, Josey allegedly acted as the title agent, facilitating the closing. As part of the scheme, she is accused of creating fictitious title companies, websites, title agent identities and unique email addresses making the sale appear legitimate, the release stated.
While Moody's statement said Russell conspired in the scam with Josey, it did not specifically say what role she is accused of playing in the scheme.
Officials have identified more than 45 victims so far and 25 properties in Lee, Indian River, Palm Beach, Flagler, Orange, and St. Lucie counties.
Russell has been booked into the Lee County jail on charges of a scheme to defraud, money laundering and aggravated white-collar crime.
Josey was booked into the Palm Beach County jail last week on charges of a scheme to defraud, grand theft, money laundering, aggravated white-collar crime and communications fraud.
FDLE officials said the investigation remains ongoing, and that they believe more people may have been victimized. Anyone with information about Russell, Josey or the alleged scam is asked to call FDLE Ft. Myers at 800-407-4880.