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Can I get help suing a con man who took my money, food and belongings and won't let me have them back?

Santa Rosa, CA |

He had a for-sale-by-owner sign in his yard and I told him I'd buy his property. He said he'd give it to me for $45,000, half down and he'd carry half at $350 a month. I agreed. He said there were two liens he had to pay off and if i would give him $20K secured by a note on the property, he'd use that to pay off the liens and we'd close the deal with the note being given back as part of the down payment. The remaining down payment money was to be paid at closing. He told me he felt like we were partners because I was helping him. He helped me to move my belongings in, along with my food supply, and tools and stuff I sell to make a living. Then he went crazy and told me I could not return. He stopped communicating. He never made a payment on the note. I need help.

It turned out there were more than $20K liens more than he said there were. One of them was paid by him but he refuses to file the paper saying so. He has been squatting there making no payments to anyone for years. I am without income except from selling the things he is keeping away from me that I need to sell to make a living. He won't let me come get my stuff, nor will he honor his agreement to sell per his sign-offer, Now he's taken in a woman to live there with him.

Attorney Answers 4


  1. Best answer

    I think this is a civil stuation, not a criminal one, and the police won't do anything. I think you need a civil litigator ASAP. Hopefully you've got a written contract to buy this house, so you can sue for "specific performance," because oral contracts to buy real property aren't enforceable due to the Statute of Frauds which require those kinds of contracts to be in writing.

    But even without an enforcebale contract to buy the property, you should still be able to sue for fraud to get your money back and for "conversion" to get your personal property back. Maybe it won't come to a lawsuit if you get a lawyer to threaten one effectively.

    Avvo doesn't pay us for these responses, and I'm not your lawyer just because I answer this question or respond to any follow-up comments. If you want to hire me, please contact me. Otherwise, please don't expect a further response. We need an actual written agreement to form an attorney-client relationship. I'm only licensed in CA and you shouldn't rely on this answer, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it's impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue.


  2. You should immediately contact the local police department.


  3. Here's the thing:

    It IS a civil matter but it IS a crime. It is not OK to defraud someone and steal their stuff and dollars to donuts if you were a corporation the cops would be all over it. Essentially, our government now gives corporations more protection than individuals. It reminds me of when they used to go to someone's home on a domestic violence claim and say, "this is a family/private issue not a crime." After many years of bad PR and lots of noise from the community a lot of that has changed. So, if I were you I would shout to to the rooftops at anyone who would listen, including the local police, the FBI, the postal service, the attorney general, the district attorney, local news etc, and see if it is indeed a civil matter or a crime. If he went to your home and took the stuff it would be a crime. I say this is a crime and I think you should make a lot of noise.

    Lastly, yes, an atty would charge you a lot of money for this so, that is not a good way to go. Small claims court is a relatively fast option and starting Jan. 1, you can bring a claim there yourself for up to 10K but, as noted above, I would scream bloody murder to the hilltops here...


  4. I can provide you with a free consultation.