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Investors ditch deal on homes

Woman in failed 'foreclosure rescue' business tries again

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A woman who aided her daughter in a "foreclosure rescue" business blamed for millions of dollars of debts and losses in the Augusta community is back in the real estate business in the Atlanta area, according to a business proposal she has sent to potential investors.



The proposal concerns a joint venture that promises a 100 percent return on every $5,000 invested with Neville LLC, a company Marie Champagne formed in 2006, according to the Georgia Secretary of State's Office.

Rory McNaughton, a member of a group of Atlanta investors, said his group was poised to send $35,000 to a trust account managed by Champagne's attorney, Sue Reimer, of Columbia County. They changed their minds after reading The Augusta Chronicle's 2008 investigative report on the fallout from the financial deals involving Champagne and her daughter and son-in-law, Regina and Charles Preetorius.

In the Augusta area, the family ran S.D.A. & Associates, a company they claimed could help homeowners in danger of foreclosure, find buyers for their homes and return a 12 percent profit to investors, who were guaranteed safety through the issuance of security deeds on properties. The Preetoriuses eventually filed for bankruptcy, and more than 40 homes went into foreclosure, 12 bankruptcies were filed and investors lost nearly $3.7 million, according to property and court records.

Several people who lost homes and life savings told The Chronicle that the FBI has interviewed them about the family's financial dealings.

Federal agents won't confirm or deny a criminal investigation, however.

McNaughton is one of several people who have contacted the newspaper since its Aug. 17, 2008, story on the Preetoriuses and Champagne.

"Check out the attached business proposal (Marie's listed in there) that sounds to me like they're up to antics similar to that in the articles you wrote," McNaughton said in a recent e-mail.

According to the business outline for Head Start Homes, it is supposed to work this way: Neville buys a home "at the wholesale price," does repairs and rehab of property, then sells it at fair market value to a buyer already qualified through its own mortgage program.

The process takes about three weeks, the outline states. Investors put up $5,000, and when the house is closed on, they get back their initial investment plus $5,000, for a 100 percent return.

"Enclosed we have also submitted a list of homes that we have personally placed families into," the business outline states.

The list has 51 properties with addresses in Richmond and Columbia counties. While a few were sold successfully, many more were properties that passed through the Preetoriuses and Champagne before ending in foreclosure, property records show. Ten of the properties, according to county property records, were never in their control.

The current owner of one home on Colonial Drive is listed as Carolina Investments LLC, a company registered and organized by Reimer in March 2005, although it was administratively dissolved in May 2008.

Three calls and an e-mail to Reimer -- containing what the Atlanta investors were told was the information needed to wire the money to Reimer's trust account -- were not returned last week. Contact information for Champagne could not be located.

In a February 2009 deposition, Champagne -- who is being sued by an S.D.A. investor who lost $50,000 -- admitted she is not a licensed real estate agent, though she worked for her daughter in the buying and selling of real estate.

At the time of the deposition, she said she had just applied for a job with a company that works with people who are behind on their mortgages. Champagne lost three homes to foreclosures in 2008 and 2009.

When confronted with The Chronicle's article by the Atlanta investors, Champagne claimed that it was all false and that the newspaper was forced to remove the stories from the Internet.

The Chronicle stands by its report and has not removed any stories from the Internet.

Champagne also downplayed her 1989 federal conviction for mail fraud, claiming she didn't have an attorney and was coerced into pleading guilty, according to another potential investor, Latisha Bell.

According to the newspaper's reports in 1989, Champagne was sentenced to two years in prison for her role in a multistate scam that promised her company, Financial Business Brokers, could get million-dollar loans for businesses. She was also ordered to repay victims more than $800,000.

Some of the properties Champagne claims were bought and sold "with the team we currently have in place" also are listed in the Preetoriuses' bankruptcy petition. The bankruptcy case is still open.

Regina Preetorius, who gave the court a home address in Aztec, N.M., completed the court-required financial counseling course in March. According to a court document filed May 15, she attended the course at a Macon, Ga., consumer credit counseling service.

Though Champagne told potential investors in Atlanta that she has numerous properties available, statewide property records show her last property transactions were the July 2009 foreclosure on her Wind Mill Lane home and the March 2009 foreclosure of her Southgate Drive rental home.

The pitch

Strategic business outline for Head Start Homes makes the following pitch for investors:

1) Homebuyer has Head Start Homes purchase their selected home at "the wholesale price"

2) Head Start Homes makes repairs and rehabs the home

3) Head Start Homes sells home to the buyer who has already been qualified for loan through Head Start's own mortgage program

4) Investor gets his $5,000 back plus another $5,000 from Head Start Homes

Comments (24)

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Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 06/01/10 - 02:39 am
0
0

Great work, Sandy.

Great work, Sandy.

shamrock
21
Points
shamrock 06/01/10 - 02:54 am
0
0

and if I had tried to operate

and if I had tried to operate any one of those scams ... JUST ONE ... I'd still be in jail!!

humbleopinion
0
Points
humbleopinion 06/01/10 - 05:04 am
0
0

One day they will stand

One day they will stand before the ONE that will not be scammed....Let's see how well they can "fast talk' then......

fishman960
1420
Points
fishman960 06/01/10 - 06:03 am
0
0

This Marie Champagne tried to

This Marie Champagne tried to sell me her personal condo @ Turtle Creek. I almost fell for the pitch, she talked sooooo smooth and being Christian like. And this was after the daughter tried to sell me a condo! What crooks.

getalife
4
Points
getalife 06/01/10 - 06:39 am
0
0

They all should be behind

They all should be behind bars. They will continue with some type scam because that is all they know, cheating people for a living.

johnston.cliff
2
Points
johnston.cliff 06/01/10 - 06:55 am
0
0

100% return on your risk free

100% return on your risk free investment? Under those circumstances, they'd be able to get all of the financing they wanted. They wouldn't need private investors...if it was on the up and up.
" If it's too good to be true, it's probably not"
Cliches get to be cliches for a reason.

sojourner
0
Points
sojourner 06/01/10 - 08:47 am
0
0

She needs more money,

She needs more money, obviously. I'm sure it's hard to live on a beer budget when you've got Champagne taste.... ::rimshot::

bettyboop
7
Points
bettyboop 06/01/10 - 08:52 am
0
0

Thank goodness she did'nt get

Thank goodness she did'nt get to pull her scams again!.......Maybe this will end her life of crime.............

seenitB4
72930
Points
seenitB4 06/01/10 - 09:21 am
0
0

What jerks....& usually the

What jerks....& usually the innocent folks suffer the most from these crooks.

lsmith
105
Points
lsmith 06/01/10 - 11:49 am
0
0

Who says "Crime doesn't pay"?

Unpublished

Who says "Crime doesn't pay"? A few years in jail for millions of dollars in scam money. Sounds like a good deal to me. Want to eliminate these crimes, make the punishment HURT!!!

TakeAstand
13
Points
TakeAstand 06/01/10 - 11:56 am
0
0

Obviosly these scam artists

Obviosly these scam artists aren't going to stop. This loser need a long stay in the big house. Obviously she lacks morals and we need to protect people from her. I hope the FBI IS investigating this piece of trash. They evidently should look into her lawyer too.

PositiveThinker
0
Points
PositiveThinker 06/01/10 - 11:56 am
0
0

It's too bad Sue Reimer's

It's too bad Sue Reimer's name is associated with this. She's a really wonderful person.

stillamazed
1488
Points
stillamazed 06/01/10 - 12:05 pm
0
0

Once a crook.....just watch

Once a crook.....just watch out folks. Hopefully she will be stopped before it goes to far. How can she be allowed back in the real estate business after what she did? I agree with lsmith on this one..

Dixieman
10401
Points
Dixieman 06/01/10 - 12:13 pm
0
0

Anytime someone offers you a

Anytime someone offers you a guaranteed 100% return on your investment...run as fast as you can until you are out of sight.

carcraft
20743
Points
carcraft 06/01/10 - 05:48 pm
0
0

Positive Thinker-I have had

Positive Thinker-I have had several Dealings with Sue Reimer and she is an excellant lawyer and person!

TakeAstand
13
Points
TakeAstand 06/01/10 - 04:23 pm
0
0

Well it doesn't look to good

Well it doesn't look to good for her to be dabbling in real estate with a person like this, which is what the article seems to try to imply nor represent her in more scams. I'm sure she knew this unethical lady's background, if not she should do her research! You associate yourself with people like Champagne and it will tarnish your image as well. She may well be a wonderful lawyer and an excellent person, but to further represent a woman you know is a scam artist in a new scam deal. Doesn't look good and I won't be calling her for anything. Better to be safe than sorry. If she truly didn't know about Champagnes history she needs to get herself out of this deal from representing this woman on another scam. She may end up in trouble herself dealing with an immoral woman like this. Why is that Champagne lady not in trouble for doing real estate without a license?

fishman960
1420
Points
fishman960 06/01/10 - 04:33 pm
0
0

I went to Sue's office to

I went to Sue's office to sign two different contracts. The whole thing was orchestrated by Marie and Regina, using a conference room and I don't think I ever saw Sue. At one meeting, there was another Realtor there, but he didn't like what was happening. It was all an unsuccessful attempt on their part for me to cash in on my 401k. It was my impression that Sue was turning a blind eye to those proceedings....

check
13
Points
check 06/01/10 - 05:32 pm
0
1

It goes like this. There is

It goes like this. There is a history of several people who lost homes and life savings. Yet now Mr. Rory McNaughton, a member of a group of Atlanta investors, said his group was poised to send $35,000 to a trust account managed by Champagne's attorney, Sue Reimer, of Columbia County. Nice person my foot. Better watch out right here at home for this dirty attorney.

carcraft
20743
Points
carcraft 06/01/10 - 06:02 pm
0
0

All I can say is that Mrs

All I can say is that Mrs Reimer handled a case for me and tied up some loose ends at no charge. Handled a closing for me and a closing for a friend and did a great job. She has been active in many laudible projects in the CSRA and done some very good pro bono work. I pray that this dosen't taint her because she is a good person!

angeleyes
0
Points
angeleyes 06/01/10 - 07:54 pm
0
0

once a thief always a thief.

once a thief always a thief. i hope the people in atlanta get wind of what happened here. seems to be both of them needs there you know whats kicked..and some sense pounded in there heads. they want the easy way out. to sorry to earn an honest living.

ennui
0
Points
ennui 06/02/10 - 12:23 am
0
0

Good thing the potential

Good thing the potential investors did their research and saved themselves from (probably) losing thousands. Anyone guaranteeing you that kind of return on an investment should be avoided like the plague.
Hard to believe any respectable attorney would handle business for someone making those kinds of claims.

lsmith
105
Points
lsmith 06/02/10 - 06:20 am
0
0

carcraft: you ignore what

Unpublished

carcraft: you ignore what seems to be obvious. So glad you had a postive result with your use of Reimer, however apparently Reimer is either a sucker for the shenanigans of these people or a knowing participant. It's not like Reimer has not had the benefit of all the bad press and woeful legal history involved. The stench surrounding these people is so strong, Reimer can only get tainted herself.

corgimom
19378
Points
corgimom 06/03/10 - 11:01 pm
0
0

Anybody dumb enough to

Anybody dumb enough to believe that something will return a 100% return on their money deserves to lose their money.

Greed. That's what the con men rely on- and there's always someone out there that is like that.

RKim
0
Points
RKim 06/08/10 - 08:43 pm
0
0

And, again, we have

And, again, we have anonymous, cowardly attacks on Sue Reimer. Sue and Bob are two friends of mine and excellent attorneys who just got caught up with some dishonest people like Regina Preetorius and Marie Champagne. The Reimers's business is clean or else they would have been disbarred from practicing law by now.

As for Champagne giving investors the Reimer Law Firm Trust Account information for wiring instructions of funds, I also have the Reimer Law Firm wiring instructions and can give it out to anyone I like without Sue's and Bob's knowledge, which is what I'm sure Champagne is doing. There are other "investors" who operate like Regina and Marie in Augusta who I avoid like the plague, but who may use the Reimers or other ethical attorneys there. Just because these "investors" may use the Reimers as their attorney won't affect my high opinion of Sue and Bob.

The late Johnnie Cochran defended someone as notorious as O.J. Simpson but that didn't affect my high opinion of his knowledge and practice of law. If you were in similar circumstances as Simpson, I'd think you would want someone like Cochran defending you.

I'll continue to use Reimer Law Firm for my deals in Georgia, and will continue to recommend them to others. Interesting how bold critics here become when hiding behind the anonymity of the Internet. - Robert Kim (Aiken, SC)

atlissickandtired
0
Points
atlissickandtired 09/01/10 - 07:29 am
0
0

I live in Atlanta and I too

I live in Atlanta and I too was scammed by these people and after reading this article I'm mailing my civil claim papers out. Regina and Marie are not only scamming investors but also hard working people thinking they can get into home. As one person stated, if it looks too good to be true it probably is and now I am out of a nice chunk of change. I also contacted the FBI and Sandy, I hope they both rot in jail. I know nothing of the firm she is claiming to use and have nothing against them.

vint100
0
Points
vint100 03/10/12 - 03:31 pm
0
0

This lady took me and my wife

This lady took me and my wife for $1000.00.

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