Be careful who you invest with

125 Replies

De Guzman has been emailing me "deals"  of properties for sale or some kind of "partnership" agreement.  They actually sounded kind of convincing, he puts some thought into what he writes.  Though certainly skeptical, I have wondered if there was any value to his offerings.  Thanks for clarifying.  I expected him to tell his side of the story.

Hi @Jay Hinrichs

I agree that 10% of the people make it look bad for all of us trying to give advice.  It is not just lenders, I have seen brokers trying to sell and talk up these high cap rates and then members on BP ask me for advice and I figure out pretty quickly that these are in not very nice areas.  These are areas that my PM would not feel safe in at night time.  Like I said, boarded up windows a dive bar across the street etc.  These are brokers, wholesalers, flippers etc... They are just trying to make a quick buck and attracting out of state beginning investors with these pie in the sky cap rates.  These people thinking these are amazing deals are often contacting me, saying here is a $5000-10,000 property and what do I think about it? Other times, they come to me with other too good to be true deals.  Most of these deals are real scary.  As I said, based primarily on something that they heard about on BP that are selling them on something for nothing, instantaneous gratification, diseased mentality.  This is not easy being successful in developing solid tax deferred cash flow, based on solid leveraged debt.  Although, it is achievable and sustainable by reading, following successful people, having mentors, going to seminars, and building up your empire one rental property or front door at a time. 

Right now I have 89 front doors and counting, with only $80,000 combined family W2 earnings and after 5 years of investing have amassed $5,500,000 in total RE and $2,500,00 in Equity. My yearly tax deferred cash flow on my front doors is currently sitting at $120,000.00 a year. I started investing at 46 years old and am now 51 years old. Many of you on BP make way more combined family w2 earnings than I do. Right now I am saving up $4000.00 a month in my RE savings account to buy more when I find the right deal. I only have $75,000 in that RE savings account and am trying to get to $100,000. At the same time I am paying for my child's college education to become a mechanical engineer. That is the only reason my RE savings account isn't a lot higher. We live a frugal life in a 1040 sf house in San Diego. I have a paid off 2013 Hyundai Sonata hybrid and my wife has a 2013 Honda Pilot with $6,000 left on it. I gave my son my old 2000 Chrysler Concorde, of course paid off. My house payment is $1900.00 and that is the extent of my personal debt.

We are very happy and have all the things we need. However, we do not have everything we want.  We are living like no one else now, so in a short period, we will be living like no one else later. The goal is to retire from all W2 earnings jobs in the next 5 years.  Then, full time playing and RE investing.   


Hellos and welcome to BP!  It sounds like you are a close follower of Robert Kiyoeaki.  Your point is the same i have taken as meeting knowable people like him  and believe what he says. Your comments on this email are in line with what he says.  I strongly believe in whar he says and have now read 4 of his books.  I read about 2 books per week.  I am still slowly recovering from a medical condition and I found BP about 18 months ago and I am spending about 8 to 10 hours a day (7 days a week) aon learning as much as I can until I am ready to do something everyday.  I still cannot walk yet so I spend much of my time learning at home and learning all I can.  Real Estae is my choice hoping that it will accommodate my health and the possibly my learning and it's honesty.  Eventhough I was in the construction business since I was 17 years old.

I am 60 years old now and have made my mistakes teach me some valuable lessons. I was spending much time with my daughter when she was growing up and feel pretty lucky that I was able to because of our wait and had her when I was 40. Another lucky thing was that my wife has been saving money from her paycheck to help us under these kind of conditions. My daughter is now in her 3rd year at The University of Arkansas. Luckily we have been able to send her there without going into debt from that. Unfortunately it costs $6,000 a semester just for tuition every semester. We live in Dallas County where I grew up. We also have equity in our house of about 175K and have paid off the mortgage and only owe about 25K on our home improvment loan that enabled us to pay-off the mortgage so I am not very stressed. My wife's boss's has been real nice about my problems. He currently only expects my wife to come to the office for 1/2 a day but pays her full time. She is a frugal person and is a computer programmer.

One of the things he talks about is being control, not to trust anybody, and education in what we were not taught in grade school. He is now into teaching which kind of turns me off but he was grown up with good lessons to make him wealthy from real estate. I had a real estate broker license that was held for about 30 years. That and the college courses I took in college taught me a lot since my business degree was emphasized in real estate and everything I took in college enabled me to take the license test without having to take any extra courses and at that time you could get a broker license right away without having a salesperson license first. I stayed in construction business and was either a manager type person or an owner.

I am very sorry that you got cheated on your investment.  Robert Kiyosaki talked about that and that no one should be trusted.  You can not assume anything with a professional you hire to use them on your project.  It is bad that most of us were grown up to be trustworthy of others and just should not expect that some people would cheat us out or hard-earned money or given adequate education about work for personal finances.  I have also run into many people on the internet that are crooks that make sales based on emotions of people who can afford to be in this business.  Anything that has money in it is subject to having to deal wth cheaters.  You can use the Internet to get in touch with and scam other people.  Do not ever forget that education is a long term thing.  I have heard many investors mention that you have to be educated and taught by good people and that your success Is dependent on it.

Thank you and good luck to you!


Your story is so hard to swallow. I'm so sorry that you had to go through all of this. What I will say is that karma is a mother effer and this sounds like some out of control Ponzi scheme that will come screeching to a halt in due time. I'm upset at reading this. Hard working people being scammed out of their money. I wish I had the words or means to make these guys refund your money. Just know that their time will come. Treat people how you'd like to be treated. I don't know either of them enough to know If their intent was to scam you or if they fell behind in other payments and used your money to pay off others. At any rate, you're left holding the bag and that sucks.

I don't think josh and Brandon are to blame at all for this. That said, I would recommend pulling the podcast as bringing more money to the table with hopes of 'investing' doesn't sound like it'll work with this group of individuals. Furthermore, promoting those with shady business practices does not sound in the best interest of this podcast or site. This is a group of individuals who hope to learn and grow from one another. It takes one rotten apple to make you wonder if you're doing the right thing.

Pick your head up, call it an expensive education and know that you can still succeed. I hope this doesn't detract you from continuing to follow your passion of investing. There are some good folks out there.

I hope you're able to enjoy the weekend and days which follow even though you have that sour taste in your mouth. You (I assume) have your health and sound mind.

I'm proud of you for hopping that flight and seeing for yourself. Best of luck down the road. Their time will come. For now, heal and explore any legal recourse available to you. Breathe. Scream. Yell. Cry. It will pass and you will grow. Don't give up fighting for what is right and get your money back if you can. Stay strong.

Sending you positive thoughts and best wishes.


Listen, BP Nation,

I too was scammed by Garrett Stevenson. I am not a scammer as Sylvia Pomazak portrays or others portray me to be. The allegations you read against me are all unproven in court. I can not wait to answer Sylvia Pomazak's complaint against me in court or in any investigative body so I can clear my name once and for all. Let the truth come out.

To hear my side, go to

As one of Garret Stevenson's victims, will it be right for me to go to my buddy who introduced me to Garrett Stevenson and demand that he pays what Garrett did not return to me? 

And because this buddy of mine wouldn't pay what he does not owe me, will it be right for me to go to BP to portray my buddy as a scammer so he will be more pressured to pay what I am asking him to pay even though someone else owes the money?

Don't be too gullible to believe everything you read or hear right away. Sharpen your insight to see things that are more difficult to detect. Subtle things. Things beyond face value. It will help you in business and in life.

Ask yourself, why is this person doing this and that? Is it because she only wants to share her story and warn others? Or does she have other agenda too that you may not know of? 

Read the full story here. You will take away many valuable lessons.

Originally posted by Account Closed 's stories but the extent of your relationship with your buddy and Garrett is very different from the extent of Sylvia's relationship with you and Garrett. You trusted Garrett based on your prior extensive relationship with him (he was your acquisition guy). Sylvia trusted Garrett by way of YOU, your reputation, and your track record on BP. For reasons that you have indicated in your story, I'm not so sure it's right for Sylvia to go after you, but for you to draw the analogy that what Sylvia is doing is the same as you going after your buddy for introducing you to Garrett is ludicrous. The analogy does not work... the way Sylvia trusted Garrett is very different from the way you trusted Garrett.

This really amounts to a "he says she says" type of thing. For Sylvia and your sake, between the BP forums and other investigations I hope this issue can be resolved to everyone's satisfactions. There are three sides to every story - yours, mine, and the truth.

I'm following this thread because I'm learning about something that's fundamental in this business - trust. Your story shows that you can't necessarily trust someone you have worked with for years. I have trusted others for less, maybe I should reevaluate.

All the best... Immanuel

For as much as I sympathize with Sylvia, I am not sure if she can ask Wendell to "buy her out".... As if you buy a stock on my recommendation, can you come after me if you lose money on that stock? Probably not.....

But this whole story served to highlight the risk of out-of-state investing...Investors will have no choice but to trust someone that they really don't know about....

But sounds like Sylvia is now on the right path, since she will only investing "within 15 minutes" next time.... I am a little more brave than that now, I invest within one hour drive.....Best wishes to Sylvia....

Account Closed Glad that you replied to the thread with your side of the story. I am sorry that you also lost money.

I have a couple of questions for you.

1)Was Garret Paying you for refer him customers? I know some people get referral fees in this business for sending them new business.

2)You planned to close on the property but realized that you were losing your money also and now could not do close with Sylvia. Did you provide the information you shared here with Sylvia (the reason I ask is because Sylvia says you stopped communication with her)

I hope this is a lesson to all of us reading that we do our own background check and not just go based on reference. And when you refer someone you be cautious as to who you are referring and not use language as “trust someone with your life” as this creates a false sense of security to the other person.

Thank you for the warning. I am a newbie investor and am almost TERRIFIED of being scammed via Bigger Pockets. I consider myself pretty savvy, but i know scammers are everywhere. And i agree. ANYONE who scams should be immediately removed and blocked from Bigger Pockets. It chips away at any credibility that BP has!

Originally posted by @Sylvia Pomazak :

Hello BP members in Cincinnati or those investing here. Please be careful of who you invest with. I had the unfortunate experience of investing with someone here and it ended up being a scam. 

True Story of How my First Real Estate Investment was a Scam

10 Steps to follow to Avoid Getting Scammed in Real Estate 

 I am so sorry. I always say research research research, but sometimes there even scams out there that might pass that. It can be difficult for sure. 

Well, there's no cure for being a lazy investor who fails to do the slightest bit of due diligence that's as effective as potentially libeling someone who gave you a free referral.  I'm sure you'll get many referrals from successful people with assets to protect in the future....

@Radhika M. , great questions.

@Sylvia Pomazak , looking back, your instinct was correct from the get go. 

Account Closed, it was unfortunate you got scammed by someone you trusted. That just sucks. As an outsider looking in, you didn't handle the situation well IMO. If you promised Sylvia to make it her whole, follow through on your promise. If you ran into an unexpected circumstance and couldn't follow through on your promise such as your lender pulled out, you should have let her know instead of letting her hanging for Friday after Friday over several months. Not answering phone calls is unacceptable when the person on the other end is sitting on a hot burner.

If you're doing the kind of volume as you have claimed on BP, $50k is just not a lot of money to make Sylvia whole. How much does your reputation worth? The reason we have this thread was because you didn't follow through on your promise and ignored her phone calls in addition to her getting scammed by Garrett Stevenson.

Personally, I don't think Sylvia is out to destroy you. She doesn't want others to go through what she went through, which was hell. As you already have seen, a lot of people found value in her thread. Of course, this is one man's opinion.

I would advise anyone siding with Account Closed do a simple google search of the name Trace Trajano.  Thats his "birth name"  its pretty damning stuff.  If you read his response to this thread and his posted thread in off-topic you can see the common denominator is Trace claiming victimhood in MANY bad real-estate deals...all while presenting himself as an "expert" and taking peoples money for seminars etc....  And that is just taking at face value what Trace/Wendell presents to the public.  Seems he is living a lie EVEN if he isn't actively scamming people.  He is no expert.

As much as I love the investment industry, there are so many sketchy people in it. I've seen many blatant attempts here to lure in novice investors and I feel like I can never say anything for fear of "rocking the boat".

As much as I enjoy reading BP, it is dangerous in 2 ways from what I can tell: 1. Scammers trying to lure people in....2. Young inexperienced people getting the mis perception that RE is a place to make big money quick

Account Closed

You value your own money more than others and you leverage others to build your real estate empire. Hope you guys can work together to come up with a solution that meets all parties in the middle

I do not think Wendell's intention was to Scam Sylvia

I think he was wrong in making a comment "i trust him with my life"

I do think he did wrong after the fact when things starting going down hill

He should have had better communication and try to resolve the issue 

I don't think he should have paid her out to resolve it

Sylvia has a right to show tell her story

Wendell has a right to respond- I respect him for clearing the air

I believe people who have successfully done business with Wendell should vouch for him vs being quiet on this

Too many people are jumping on Sylvia band wagon and calling Wendell sketchy or scammer. That is not the case