Brooklyn real estate fraudster sentenced to prison after swindling victims out of nearly $1M

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A woman who defrauded several people who wanted to buy property in Brooklyn has been sentenced to prison.
Photo courtesy of Andre Carrotflower/Wikimedia Commons

A woman who stole nearly $1 million from nine victims in a fraudulent real estate scheme will spend up to seven years in prison after she was sentenced in Brooklyn Supreme Court on Wednesday.

According to Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, the defendant, 69-year-old Regine Norman — also known as Regine Ellis — told her victims she was a member of a private real estate auction, and could purchase cheap properties in Brooklyn on their behalf — but pocketed their down payments instead.

An investigation found that between 2018 and 2021, Norman encouraged nine people to wire her money to buy properties across Brooklyn and the New York City area — but kept it all for herself.

Norman created and presented her victims with fraudulent contracts of sale, oftentimes with a forged signature from the actual property owner. She kept her victims in the dark, according to the DA’s office, and told them they could not speak to anyone involved with the auction because they were not part of the private group. 

Authorities found that the auction group Norman claimed to be part of, NY Private Auction Inc., does not exist – and that many of the properties she claimed to have access to were never for sale at all.

Over time, as her “clients” began to demand their money back, Norman “refunded” them using funds stolen from more recent victims. Using stolen funds, Norman returned full payments back to four victims, and paid three more portions of what she had stolen from them. Seven victims never received any money at all, per the DA’s office.

When she was indicted in 2021, Norman had reportedly paid back $306,000 of roughly $1.3 million stolen from her victims, with more than $900,000 still outstanding. 

Norman pleaded guilty to six counts of second-degree grand larceny and three counts of third-degree grand larceny earlier this year. On March 27, she was sentenced to three-and-a-half to seven years in prison, and ordered to pay $842,000 in restitution.

Gonzalez said the defendant had been “brought to justice.”

“The defendant sought to take advantage of Brooklyn’s rising real estate values to steal money from investors,” he said in a statement. “I would caution individuals to carefully consider with whom they invest their savings.”