Be careful who you invest with

125 Replies

@Syed Lateef   You understand this man has legally changed his name due to bad real estate decisions & shady guru classes before right?   You understand that again he is playing the victim while in his own words also playing real estate expert.   From Wendell's own words he is a liar....I don't see how its far fetched to jump to intentional scammer based on his history as Wendell De Guzman AND Trace Trajano.

  

OK, I re-read both stories side by side. My thoughts, in no particular order:

1. Wendell's position on filing a civil case against Garrett Stevenson in Dec 2016 checks out: HHS v. Equity Max . 

2. I feel bad for Sylvia. Losing a bunch of money is always painful. 

3. The only responsibility I see in any of this that belongs to Wendell is that he referred her to Garrett Stevenson. Stuff like "I trust him with my life" is just, as Judge Judy would say, "fluffing". I didn't read anything that would lead me to believe she had any type of agreement or partnership with Wendell in all of this.

4. A lot of the bad feelings in all of this is prescribed to Wendell by transfer. 

5. Statements such as: "I still trusted Wendell, or at least knew he was the only one who could get me out of this situation, that he had gotten me into." demonstrate a lack of responsibility. As sad as this is, no one "got" Sylvia into this situation except Sylvia.

6. I am glad I did not jump in specifically to condemn someone on this, though I did commiserate with Sylvia and her lost funds.

I don't know either one of these people. Of course I've seen plenty of Wendell's posts on BP. I respect the man for coming by here to tell his side of the story, as I'm sure reading this post wasn't the most pleasant thing out there. I don't think there's any evidence based on this thread that Wendell is a scammer. There may be evidence that his judgement is not that sound - he lost his own money, and sent a referral to someone who also lost their money - but that's not criminal. My gut feeling is that everyone involved in this story got too free-wheeling with their "trust", no one did any due diligence on anything, and they got their asses handed to them. The list of things in the story that should, like the song said, make you go "Hmmmm" is mind boggling:

  • Potential contact for a referral won't/can't meet in person
  • Opportunity for cost mitigation (the offer to lend money to buy the house that was declined)
  • A renter moves in in July but no rent is received (apparently) through December
  • Sold the property on the spot for $15k with no counter or attempt to mitigate losses

I still feel sorry for Sylvia, and I don't mean to diminish her pain, but she was a willing partner in this story. Wendell looks mostly guilty of poor judgement, from what I can see. I don't know where it is now, but I read the "Trace Trejano" links and I personally thought a lot of them looked like personal vendetta stuff, i.e. "he left his wife to run off with his secretary" and things like that. 

@Syed Lateef I am not jumping on anyone's band wagon! I read both stories and came to the clear conclusion that clearly MR De Guzman did not act in good faith and that is putting it lightly. And is not to be trusted period. He himself posted all of his repeated failures that again and again were someone's else fault" he is playing that part of a victim again and again. but then markets himself as the expert and what a coincidence he too miraculously lost money with Mr Garrett at the same time.

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Wendell, I'm still waiting for my $40K investment from April 2015. I was reluctant to tell my story until i read Sylvia's story. My husband & I trusted you after we flew from NY to meet you in Chicago to attend your "boots on the ground training.  I invested with you, you only, & not this Garrett character.  Why cant i get my investment back?

Hi Silvia,

Thanks you so much for sharing your story.

I, too have been scammed by that scumbag Wendell de Guzman. I was afraid of reporting anything on BP because I kept hoping i was wrong & he didn't scam me out of my $40,000. Thinking back, there were many red flags.

Fitst, in March of 2015, he invited me & my husband to Chicago to attend his "boots on the ground" training. We are in NY. we were convinced he was legitimate. So he said he hound a property in Plainfiled IL that was suitable for a Lease to Own. He needed $40K for the down payment & rehab. He risked nothing of his own. He found another poor soul to use their credit plus my $40 to purchase the house. It was to be a 12 months deal after which I would cash out. he promised $50K+ in profits, & my share would be 25%. In the beginning he would send me statements, showing rents collected, then all these crazy expenses against the income, so at the end of the day, my 25% profit share was always a small fraction of the rent, & each time I had to call & plead for it. One excuse after another - his accountant quit - he was busy, etc.

In April 2015, I sent him a cashiers check for the $40K. He did not receive it. I should have sensed a red flag when he asked me to stop the check & overnight another one, as another investor wanted in on my deal, but he promised it to me first. I reluctantly sent him a replacement cashiers check for $40K. A year went by & I was totally dissatisfied. I asked why was commission to his salespeople when the property wasn't purchased yet, just about 3 months in the investment. He said they worked hard to get a tenant-buyer. I told him no one should be paid until I recoup my investment & the tenant buyer purchase the property. Then another expense of a driveway pavement was deducted from the rent. I asked him why, when he preached that with that investment set-up, the tenant buyer was responsible for any repairs. He explained that away too saying the salesperson promised it would be fixed when they first got the tenant buyer, as an enticement.

Long story short, he has my $40K for 2 years now come the end of Apr '17. I pleaded with him many times that I just want to cash out & be done with it. He offered me a bigger share of the profits, & I told him I'm not interested, I just want my $40K back ASAP. I still dont have it & his 2 numbers were disconnected.

BP needs to know he's a scammer. I'm sure we're not the only ones. The whole time I realized I was scammed but was too embarrassed to admit it or say anything to anyone. Luckily, since Dec '16 he has been appeasing me with monthly $400 checks, representing 10% of my investment. But he refuses to return my investment. He claims my name is on the deed, but I have no idea where to start to investigate this. If my name is on the deed, then I might be able to start foreclosure proceedings. But I have no idea where to start. I cant even let my husband know he did this to us.

Actual Progit share for 3 months:

PROFIT SHARE FOR 2409 RUTH FITZGERALD PLAINFIELD
DateDebitCreditMemo
8/14/2015$2,000.00Down Payment from tenant-buyer, Everardo Paniagua
8/21/2015$3,600.00$2,000 is NROC fee; $1,600 is the first month's rent
8/14/2015$460.00Plumbing services
8/17/2015$47.63Menard
8/17/2015$190.00Lawn mowing and gutter cleaning
8/19/2015$100.65Home Depot
9/9/2015$ 965.38Mortgage Payment for the month of September
9/10/2015$ 173.26rehab costs
9/17/2015$ 181.39Commission paid to Marketing & Sales
9/17/2015$ 362.78Commission paid to Acquisition and Proj Mgmt
9/17/2015$ 24.28Nicor gas - utility expense
9/18/2015$ 177.00plumbing bill
9/27/2015$ 42.47water bill utility expense
10/1/2015$ 965.38mortgage for October
10/2/2015$ 3,998.05downpayment received from Paniaguas through Rentshare.com
10/5/2015$ 1,598.05rent received $1600 minus $1.95 fee charged by rentshare.com
$ 435.00furnace repair
10/27/2015$ 965.38mortgage for November
11/4/2015$ 1,598.05rent received $1600 minus $1.95 fee charged by rentshare.com
11/11/2015$ 300.00replace windows (rehab)
11/12/2015$ 382.77cashflow profit share to Wendell
11/12/2015$ 189.80commission to Marketing & Sales
11/12/2015$ 379.60commission to Acquisition & Project Management
11/25/2015$ 965.38mortgage for December
12/5/2015$ 1,598.05rent received $1600 minus $1.95 fee charged by rentshare.com
Totals$14,392.20$7,308.15
Gross Profit$ 7,084.05
Reserves$(5,000.00)(we keep this reserves to offset cost of possible vacancies
$ 2,084.05Profit for Distribution
x 25% profit$ 521.01check mailed 12/19/2015 to Christine

And each statement came with its share of ridiculous expenses.  He preached Lease to Own, since the tenant buyer was responsible for all repairs - but not in this case.  Deducted from the profit where all kinds of expenses - gutter cleaning, driveway paving, plumbing, etc.  This is all after the rehab was completed & tenant buyer in place.   

Wendell, I invested with you only.  Please return my investment.  i made it very clear that I wanted to cash out after 12 months, & its been 24 months & you still wont return my investment.  Did you give it to this garrett character without my knowledge or consent?

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Originally posted by @JD Martin :

OK, I re-read both stories side by side. My thoughts, in no particular order:

1. Wendell's position on filing a civil case against Garrett Stevenson in Dec 2016 checks out: HHS v. Equity Max . 

2. I feel bad for Sylvia. Losing a bunch of money is always painful. 

3. The only responsibility I see in any of this that belongs to Wendell is that he referred her to Garrett Stevenson. Stuff like "I trust him with my life" is just, as Judge Judy would say, "fluffing". I didn't read anything that would lead me to believe she had any type of agreement or partnership with Wendell in all of this.

4. A lot of the bad feelings in all of this is prescribed to Wendell by transfer. 

5. Statements such as: "I still trusted Wendell, or at least knew he was the only one who could get me out of this situation, that he had gotten me into." demonstrate a lack of responsibility. As sad as this is, no one "got" Sylvia into this situation except Sylvia.

6. I am glad I did not jump in specifically to condemn someone on this, though I did commiserate with Sylvia and her lost funds.

I don't know either one of these people. Of course I've seen plenty of Wendell's posts on BP. I respect the man for coming by here to tell his side of the story, as I'm sure reading this post wasn't the most pleasant thing out there. I don't think there's any evidence based on this thread that Wendell is a scammer. There may be evidence that his judgement is not that sound - he lost his own money, and sent a referral to someone who also lost their money - but that's not criminal. My gut feeling is that everyone involved in this story got too free-wheeling with their "trust", no one did any due diligence on anything, and they got their asses handed to them. The list of things in the story that should, like the song said, make you go "Hmmmm" is mind boggling:

  • Potential contact for a referral won't/can't meet in person
  • Opportunity for cost mitigation (the offer to lend money to buy the house that was declined)
  • A renter moves in in July but no rent is received (apparently) through December
  • Sold the property on the spot for $15k with no counter or attempt to mitigate losses

I still feel sorry for Sylvia, and I don't mean to diminish her pain, but she was a willing partner in this story. Wendell looks mostly guilty of poor judgement, from what I can see. I don't know where it is now, but I read the "Trace Trejano" links and I personally thought a lot of them looked like personal vendetta stuff, i.e. "he left his wife to run off with his secretary" and things like that. 

 Can you decifer this latest development? See above...

Originally posted by @Christine L. :

So I can no longer contact him by phone or email:  His numbers are disconnected, & this is the return email I get when I email him:

Wendell de Guzman is no longer part of PCI.

Please contact Elpidio at

Elpidio 

.q atpcirei.com

 I am trying to figure this one out. Who owns this house now? Do you know this agent below?

DATEEVENTPRICEAGENTS
Postlets$0.00
09/09/15Listed for rent$1,600/mo
06/19/15Listing removed$200,000
06/12/15Listed for sale$200,000+44.3%
05/28/15Sold$138,600-20.8%Kenneth Saieg

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i insisted my name be the first leinholder on the deal but Wendell said the bank is the first the credit partner is the second and im tge third. So im assuming my name is on title. I ll have to do some research to see who actually owns the house along with me. According to online sources its worth about $200k now. We paid $138k for it n my $40 k was used for the downpayment n the rehab. Since my deal was with Wendel only n not w a 3rd party, i expect some feedback fr Wendell. Any advise on moving forward? No dont know the agent.

I have no specific advice yet. I am trying to figure this out and hopefully some bpers can check. You own 1/3 of this house? Do you have paperwork for that ownership/partnership/LLP and your name only is on the deed? This house was financed? Under whos names? There is a lease to own party living there now ? Who is paying the property tax? What is the name of the bank that is the credit partner? Why was the house not just flipped retail?

@Sylvia Pomazak You are so amazing for posting this and I believe as many people bumped this post up it's going to help new investors do homework before stepping into their first deal. 

I mainly focus on mortgage lending side of the business but I'm also a licensed realtor. Having dual licenses allow me to understand front and back end of the business more than most buyers. I have financed buyers simply because they "trust" a new realtor. It's obviously not my place to talk a buyer out of their mediocre investment deal. They don't end up being horror stories like yours but sometimes I wonder if they can just do a little more research maybe there's 0.5%-1% of a difference on their return. 

Originally posted by @Matt R. :
Originally posted by @Jd Martin:

OK, I re-read both stories side by side. My thoughts, in no particular order:

1. Wendell's position on filing a civil case against Garrett Stevenson in Dec 2016 checks out: HHS v. Equity Max . 

2. I feel bad for Sylvia. Losing a bunch of money is always painful. 

3. The only responsibility I see in any of this that belongs to Wendell is that he referred her to Garrett Stevenson. Stuff like "I trust him with my life" is just, as Judge Judy would say, "fluffing". I didn't read anything that would lead me to believe she had any type of agreement or partnership with Wendell in all of this.

4. A lot of the bad feelings in all of this is prescribed to Wendell by transfer. 

5. Statements such as: "I still trusted Wendell, or at least knew he was the only one who could get me out of this situation, that he had gotten me into." demonstrate a lack of responsibility. As sad as this is, no one "got" Sylvia into this situation except Sylvia.

6. I am glad I did not jump in specifically to condemn someone on this, though I did commiserate with Sylvia and her lost funds.

I don't know either one of these people. Of course I've seen plenty of Wendell's posts on BP. I respect the man for coming by here to tell his side of the story, as I'm sure reading this post wasn't the most pleasant thing out there. I don't think there's any evidence based on this thread that Wendell is a scammer. There may be evidence that his judgement is not that sound - he lost his own money, and sent a referral to someone who also lost their money - but that's not criminal. My gut feeling is that everyone involved in this story got too free-wheeling with their "trust", no one did any due diligence on anything, and they got their asses handed to them. The list of things in the story that should, like the song said, make you go "Hmmmm" is mind boggling:

  • Potential contact for a referral won't/can't meet in person
  • Opportunity for cost mitigation (the offer to lend money to buy the house that was declined)
  • A renter moves in in July but no rent is received (apparently) through December
  • Sold the property on the spot for $15k with no counter or attempt to mitigate losses

I still feel sorry for Sylvia, and I don't mean to diminish her pain, but she was a willing partner in this story. Wendell looks mostly guilty of poor judgement, from what I can see. I don't know where it is now, but I read the "Trace Trejano" links and I personally thought a lot of them looked like personal vendetta stuff, i.e. "he left his wife to run off with his secretary" and things like that. 

 Can you decifer this latest development? See above...

 Not really. I wouldn't even know where to start here. Where are the contracts? Delivering $40k through the mail? The whole thing sounds crazy. It brings to mind the old English saying, " A fool and his money...".

I don't know that this guy is not a scammer; he may very well be. But the stories on this site just make me shake my head. I have bought a lot of real estate and I have never invested like the people on this thread. Nothing trumps due diligence when you are investing in real estate. There are so many chuck holes that can derail you that you have to do your homework. What kind of reference checks did anyone do on these people? Did they have an attorney review paperwork or at least advise? I know good lawyers that will give solid advice for a grand. That seems a small price to pay before spending $40k with someone in another state. 

Originally posted by @Christine L. :

I cant answer all your questions right now. Im sick to my stomach since i read Sylvias post. Will reply tmrw. Thx for your reply.

 Ok, these bpers will help. I partly got the structure after reading twice. We have a bank loan with credit partner, then Wendell, then your 3rd. Then a lease to own occupying now. But it was listed for sale 200k then for rent 1600 both of this after you guys purchased. So the game plan seems like it changed maybe. But you are 3rd so eventually I assume you would be made whole one day. Perhaps take any proceeds available until this gets sorted. The lease to own deal might delay that part. Wendell vanishing makes this more difficult to figure out and with that this has to be more frustrating we can understand. A title check might be something to start on as well. 

i had to Christine's post a couple times to try to understand whats going on . Note i am not backing Wendell at all. I never met the guy or intend to. I just question some stories i read about people being scammed. 

 This is my interpretation: 

Deal Structure

1. Credit partner- John Doe - 25%

2. Money Partner- Christine - 25%

3. Rehabber/Property Manager/Brains of Operation- Wendell 50% (maybe?)

- The intent was to to a lease to buy transaction (not sure why not just flipping it if thats what Christine wanted) but for whatever reason that was advertise.

- It seems like there was a pivot in the strategy. Perhaps market conditions. Instead of able to sell the property Wendell decided to rent the property and disburse proceeds from the cashflows on a monthly basis

- Christine is surprised about the expenses that occurs when renting a property, but thats how rental properties work. I have to pay for stuff that i never expected on my multifamily multiple times. 

- Wendell is keeping track of expenses and disbursing her with her share of the monthly net income. Where is the scam in that

- Christines assumption she would be out of this deal within 12 months. Sometimes things to work out to plan.

- Christine is on the deed of the property. When it gets sold at some point in future she will get her money back. 

- She mentioned foreclosing the property, but that doesn't make sense either. The bank can foreclose if the mortgage was not being paid, but it is being paid by the renter. 

- IMO you cant just ask for your money back whenever you want

- She might end up still profiting from this investment. 

- I question the "scumbag Wendell"  and the "pour soul" credit partner comment

 I dont see where the scam is here at all to be honest. I believe it was a change of strategy and the investor is getting documentation and reciving monthly checks of the cashflows. Shes on the deed of the property so if it seels she will get her money and portion of the profit. She is calling Wendell a scammer because she wants out and her money back. 

Sometimes real estate investing is not cut out for everyone

I apologize if i was harsh on my assumptions but you cant just ask for your money back. It doesnt work like that

Wendell NEEDS to do better at communication with his investors. He needs to educate them and be responsive. He really sucks at that. Running away and hiding does NOT help

It's very hard for me to understand a person who runs and hides as seems to be the case here. I can't imagine most of the heavy hitters on this site doing that. It seems to me a respectable honest buisness man learns from his mistakes and doesn't repeat them. There are 3 posters on here claiming to have lost money or somehow been cheated by this guy.  come on how unlucky can he be??  If it acts like a rat  it's sure not a lamb and it's foolish to argue that it could still be one. RR

Thank you so much for sharing. I just joined bigger pockets after following the podcast for a few months now. I would think anyone that has been on one of the shows would be a trusted investor. Hell maybe I would've even trusted him with my life. This story was definitely a wake up call for me. Not everyone has good intentions. And I'm realizing I'm more vulnerable than others since I am a newbie. Thanks @Sylvia Pomazak

@Syed Lateef ; @Matt R.@Sylvia Pomazak

You stated:- Christine is surprised about the expenses that occurs when renting a property, but thats how rental properties work. I have to pay for stuff that i never expected on my multifamily multiple times.

My take: Wendell assured me that a lease to own does not operate like a regular rental, in that the tennant buyer is responsible for ALL repairs & upkeep to the property.  This is why I questioned why the driveway was re-done after the tenant buyer moved in, plus all those other maintenance expenses paid long after the move -in.  

You stated:Wendell is keeping track of expenses and disbursing her with her share of the monthly net income. Where is the scam in that

My take: The promissory note states that I will get 12% p.a. interest, or 25% of the profits, whichever is higher.  Why then did I get only $521 for 3 months, instead of $1200?  That was actually one of the higher payments, as the other few were riddled with expenses, & I had to call & email him several times to get an appeasement check.  

You stated:- Christines assumption she would be out of this deal within 12 months. Sometimes things to work out to plan.

My take: The Promissory note made it clear that I will be out of the deal in 12 months, else his company/another investor would buy me out.  I've asked on several occasions for him/his company to buy me out, & he makes excuses after excuses.  Bottom line - fi the lease to won isnt working - sell the house & return my principal.  Its been over 2 years already!

You stated:- Christine is on the deed of the property. When it gets sold at some point in future she will get her money back.

My take:  I trusted Wendell when he stated my investment was secured on the deed.  Whether that is the case, I dont know for sure.

You stated:- She mentioned foreclosing the property, but that doesn't make sense either. The bank can foreclose if the mortgage was not being paid, but it is being paid by the renter.

My take:You are correct- I was frustrated & angry when writing about my experience. Looking back, that does not make sense.

You stated:- IMO you cant just ask for your money back whenever you want

My Take: I have asked for my investment back repeatedly, since the default in May 2016.  Each time, he said he would check to see if he can get another investor to buy me out, or his company would buy me out.  Neither happened.  

I would see in the Marketplace here on BP that he has millions to lend.  I referenced that & asked that he return my investment since he was in default of our agreement, & he does have the capital based on what he advertises.  

Open message to Wendell:

Please return my Principal, as you are in default.  Don't be greedy.  Sell the house & return my money.  The house can be sold right now at a discount & you can still make money after returning my investment.  

To all naysayers:  Like Sylvia, I came to trust this man, & he served as a real estate mentor to me.  I researched him & did not see any red flags.  I did not know he had a name change- & that he scammed people before. I visited the properties I had an interest in purchasing during the boots on the ground training.  I was convinced he wanted to help.

I'm sure there are quite a few others that were scammed but are reluctant to come forward, fearing they will lose all their investment.  I was one of those until now.

@Christine L. - you've asked a few times if your name is on the deed or not. That information should be on the county records - have you tried looking it up online? 

Do you know what title company was used for the transaction? You can also give them a ring to find out.

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