A respected real estate agent stole $1.8 million from buyers by purporting to sell properties that were actually not for sale in Massachusetts, federal prosecutors say.
Now the agent is headed to federal prison after cashing more than 60 deposit checks for himself from those who thought they would soon own a new property but were scammed, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts.
However, prosecutors say the owners of the properties never agreed to sell to the buyers.
A judge sentenced Michael P. Flavin, 39, of Quincy to two and a half years in prison on Sept. 28 after he pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in connection with his three-year scheme, a news release from the attorney’s office says.
The identity theft charges stem from how prosecutors say Flavin would forge sellers’ signatures on fake sales agreements.
For years, Flavin was a “very well respected” broker at the family-owned real estate firm Flavin and Flavin in Quincy, his attorney, Steven C. Boozang, told McClatchy News in a statement. The business has operated in the city for more than 40 years.
“He accepted responsibility for his actions and all victims were made whole by Michael and his family,” Boozang said.
Beginning in 2017 through April 2020, Flavin marketed properties owned by others, unbeknownst to them, to buyers as up for sale when they were not, according to court documents.
Additionally, he also acted as if he was selling properties that Flavin and Flavin had already sold, an indictment states.
Throughout his scheme, Flavin found seven buyers whom he “executed purchase and sales agreements with” and received their deposit checks written out to Flavin and Flavin, according to the indictment.
After cashing the checks, he deposited the stolen money into his own bank accounts and spent it on his credit card bills, groceries and a mortgage, the indictment states. He also splurged on travel and restaurant expenses and used the money to “fund checks returning deposit payments to previous buyers,” prosecutors said.
Flavin is accused of identity theft to “facilitate” his scheme by using purported sellers’ names on purchase and sales agreements, according to the indictment. Flavin also used the names of others for several fake email addresses to communicate with buyers, prosecutors said.
Boozang told McClatchy News that Flavin, a married father, had previously become “addicted to opiates after being extorted in a legitimate real estate investment transaction.”
“He found himself in a dark place trying to make up that money and from there made some terrible decisions,” Boozang added.
Flavin was also sentenced to three years of supervised release after he gets out of prison, according to prosecutors.
Quincy is about 10 miles south of Boston.