Lindsey Hunter and Mortgage Fraud
We have all heard that if an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true. But what if the offer comes from a high profile member of your own community… say it comes from a professional athlete who spent years helping the local NBA team make it to the playoffs and into championship games. Surely, someone as well known as a National Basketball Association player wouldn’t involve himself as a ringleader in real estate fraud scam, would he?
This is the question I encountered recently when Bruce McClellan and his attorney Mike J. Smith contacted my office for information on where to turn for help in an alleged mortgage fraud scam perpetrated by veteran Detroit Pistons basketball player Lindsey Hunter.
Here is what happened, in Bruce McClellan’s own words (provided as an exclusive to FlippingFrenzy.com):
My name is Bruce McClellan (picture left) and this is my account of what happened between myself and NBA player Lindsey Hunter, and Hunter’s real estate investment firm, L&I Enterprises, LLC, and L&I’s other business personnel—Ivan “Iron” Johnson and Denna P. Tansil. I met Lindsey Hunter through his business associate, Ivan “Iron” Johnson, who I originally met years earlier at the Pontiac School system where I work as a boiler engineer.
In February of 2007, Ivan Johnson approached me to see if I would be interested in investing in real estate. According to Ivan, he had just opened a real estate investment firm with Detroit Pistons’ basketball player Lindsey Hunter, and if Lindsey felt they had a deal that I just had to look at, he wanted to know if I’d be interested.
When I asked him to tell me more about this business he was involved in with Lindsey Hunter, Ivan said they had formed a company called L&I Enterprises, LLC, for the purpose of buying and selling homes for a profit. After he swore to me that his business with Lindsey Hunter was 100% legit, I said yes to learning more about real estate investment opportunities.
A few weeks later, Ivan Johnson told me that he and Lindsay Hunter (picture right) had a real estate opportunity that would make me a lot of money. Ivan asked me to meet with himself and Lindsay at L&I Enterprises’ office for the purpose of checking my credit and running a background check on me to ensure that I’d qualify for a loan. When I arrived at their office, Lindsey he had left already, so Ivan handled the request for my credit report all on his own. Once he saw the results, Ivan said I had a great credit score (it was in the neighborhood of 790), and I was told I’d soon be a millionaire from investing in real estate.
At about the end of February, I heard from Ivan Johnson again. This time he said that he and Lindsey Hunter found the perfect property for me to invest in, and that once the deal was finalized, I’d earn $300,000 for my participation. According to Lindsay Hunter and Ivan Johnson, the deal involved buying a $1.2 Million home and selling it for $2.1 Million to a buyer Lindsey and Ivan had already identified and received a commitment from to buy the house. All I needed to do, Ivan and Lindsey told me, was apply for the home loan for the $1.2 Million purchase, and they’d handle the rest.
When I expressed doubt about my ability to qualify for a $1.2 Million loan, both men told me not to worry, that they would handle everything. Once again, as I did when Ivan first told me about Lindsey Hunter and L&I Enterprises, I expressed my concern for only working on legitimate deals and keeping my good credit in good standing. Again, both men told me I had nothing to be concerned about.
For a man making less than $45,000 a year, what Lindsay Hunter was telling me was quite appealing, as was the star treatment I was receiving from a well-known veteran NBA player.
On March 30, 2007, Ivan Johnson called to tell me that he needed me to meet him at LaSalle Bank in Farmington Hills, MI, where it was necessary for me to add my name to Lindsey and Ivy (wife) Hunter’s bank account. When I asked why my name was being added to Lindsey’s account, Ivan told me that this was necessary so it appeared to the bank that I had more money than I really did, which would help me qualify for the loan. When I asked Ivan why Lindsey wasn’t worried about adding me to his personal account, Ivan told me that Lindsey knew that I was an honest person and that I would never attempt to steal from him (which of course was true—I would never steal money from anyone).
Ivan Johnson and I went to the bank together where Ivan called Lindsay Hunter on his phone. Lindsey spoke to LaSalle Bank employee Shatha Atcho-Salmu, and from what I could hear of the conversation, it was obvious that they knew each other. Anyway, with the assistance of LaSalle Bank’s Shatha Atchoo-Salmu, and without Lindsey Hunter or his wife Ivy Hunter present, I signed my name onto Lindsey and Ivy’s account, which I was told Lindsey had authorized.
On April 30, 2007, Ivan Johnson called to tell me that we got the house (1718 Morningside Way, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48302 — pictured below) and that I needed to meet him to sign all the necessary paperwork. We met at Prudential Cranbrook Real Estate office on Franklin Road in Franklin, MI, to sign the papers. When I arrived I asked if Lindsey would be there and Ivan told me no, Lindsey had a game. I told Ivan that I would be taking his lead because I did not understand the paperwork and Ivan said that was fine. There were about four or five other people there including the sellers of the property.
Luckily, Denna P. Tansil—a realtor from L&I Enterprises, LLC—was there to guide us through the paperwork, which did not include any reference to me receiving $300,000 once the other sale had gone through. When I pointed this out to Denna, she wrote the following into the contract: “Seller will receive no less than $300,000.00 at the sale of the property.” I showed Ivan what Denna wrote, and after he checked over, he said everything was fine and Denna signed the paper and gave me a copy.
After about two months had passed, I asked Ivan Johnson if he could give me a full tour of the house and property. At first, he agreed but on the day we were to meet, Ivan was too busy. So I didn’t try again until much later because I really was not concerned since both Ivan and Lindsey Hunter had told me that they had a buyer for the house and it was basically on its way to being sold.
Later, I told Ivan that I needed to talk to Lindsay Hunter myself because the house had not sold like he said it would and I did not like the way things were going. Ivan called Lindsey while I was there and Lindsey told Ivan to tell me that for sure nothing was wrong. Regardless, I said that I needed to talk to him.
A few days later, Ivan called and told me that Lindsey had invited me to a Detriot Pistons home basketball game for the day of October 24, 2007. After being treated like a VIP in a private suite during the game, Lindsey, Ivan and I went to an upscale restaurant in Bloomfield Hills (MI), where Lindsey proceeded to tell me that everything for the real estate investment deal was in great shape—he reconfirmed that they had a buyer lined up and ready to buy the house from us for $2.1 Million—and that he wasn’t going to do me wrong or get me involved in any illegal activities. Lindsey even went as far as to tell me that he was financially set for the rest of his life, he wanted to make me and Ivan millionaires within the next one to two years, and that he wanted to make me a partner in L&I Enterprises, LLC.
When more time passed by without the house selling, I again became anxious and decided to visit the house myself. When I arrived at the house, I was surprised to find Lindsay Hunter’s truck parked in the driveway. Not knowing why his truck was there, and not seeing a way to gain access to the house, I called Ivan to get a feel for what was going on. It was then that I learned from Ivan that Lindsey and his wife Ivy were going through a rough patch—Ivan said they had separated—and that Lindsey was actually living in the house. Basically, Ivan told me that I shouldn’t go into the house right now because it might be “awkward.”
Understanding that this happens to some people, and keeping in mind Lindsey and Ivan’s previous statements about there already being a buyer for the house—which would yield $300,000 for my part of the investment—I was okay with the situation as explained to me by Ivan, and I went home. From my way of thinking, it was really Lindsey Hunter’s house anyway, and since he already had a buyer lined up and the mortgage was being paid on time—or so I assumed—there really wasn’t anything for me to worry about.
Eventually, in February of 2008, I did end up gaining access to the house, at which time I called Ivan Johnson and told him that I did not think the house was worth $1.2 Million.
In April 2008, I received a phone call from Countrywide inquiring about the mortgage payments. Apparently, the mortgage on the house had not been paid in quite some time, and Countrywide was calling me to demand payment.
Immediately after I got off the phone with Countrywide, I called Ivan Johnson to see just what in the heck was going on. Ivan informed me at that time—and for the first time ever—that Lindsey Hunter had shut down L&I Enterprises, and that in doing so, he had left a lot of people “holdin’ the bag” and that we were on our own. Lindsey, it seems, had gone home to his wife.
I asked Ivan how I was supposed to pay an $8,700 monthly note on my salary, to which he told that what Lindsey Hunter did was wrong and that he would talk with Lindsey to see if Lindsey would make things right for me. Rather than wait for Lindsey to call Ivan, Ivan tried calling Lindsey several times but discovered that Lindsey had changed his phone numbers; he was impossible to reach.
Finally, around the end of May of 2008, Ivan Johnson and Lindsey Hunter called me on a three-way call and asked: “What do you think you deserve to get you out of this house?” I told them that since my credit was ruined from the lack of mortgage payments, I wanted $50,000 and for them to get caught up on all of the outstanding monies owed to Countrywide. At this point, Lindsey became very angry and started cursing at me over and over. I told Lindsey that I was not cursing at him and I did not understand why he was cursing at me. I told Ivan that I didn’t want to talk under these conditions any more and I hung up. Ivan called me back about twenty minutes later and he said that what Lindsey had done was wrong.
About another week passed and Ivan and Lindsey called me again for a three-way conversation. “Bruce, this is Ivan and Lindsey is on the phone,” Ivan said. I said ok and Lindsey said hello and then proceeded to tell me that he was going to do whatever it took to get me out of the deal. He would restore my credit, get me off the house, and give me $25,000.
Since I just wanted my name off the deal, I agreed. The $25,000 was much less than the $300,000 I was originally told I would receive for investing in the house, but like I said, I just wanted to get free of the whole mess.
I never heard from Lindsay Hunter again.
Long story short, Lindsay Hunter never paid the $25,000 he promised me, my credit is ruined, and come to find out that back in April—when I signed all those closing documents Ivan Johnson and Denna Tansil told me to sign—I unknowingly signed for two loans, not just one!
Now I have legal representation and am hoping that because of this story on FlippingFrenzy.com and Lindsey Hunter’s profile, someone with judicial authority will listen and Hunter, Ivan Johnson, and Denna Tansil will be held accountable for what they’ve done.
~ Bruce McClellan
Thank you, Bruce, for sharing your account of what happened between yourself and Lindsey Hunter and Hunter’s business partners, Ivan Johnson and Denna Tansil. This story involves many of the trademark signatures of real estate and mortgage fraud:
- Bruce was a naïve borrower with nearly perfect credit. He had no idea a scam was taking place right under his nose, which ultimately made him the perfect straw buyer.
- This particular case features a long-term relationship—between Bruce and Ivan— making it easy for Bruce to be conned. Ivan knew that Bruce would jump at the chance to make serious money, and he knew that Bruce was a trusting soul with nearly perfect credit.
- What scam wouldn’t be complete without a glamour player (i.e., a ring leader). In this case, it is a professional basketball player claiming to want to take a common man under his wing and make him a millionaire. In other cases it is the smooth talking, good looking, get the deal done, likeable person. In either case, Lindsay Hunter seems to fit the bill.
- This scam involves fabricating income and/or assets, which is one of the oldest tricks in the book. Lindsay Hunter added Bruce McClellan to his million dollar bank account to boost Bruce’s ability to qualify for a loan.
- Bruce was promised easy money and no risk for his involvement in what he was told was a legitimate real estate deal. How many times have we heard that one!
A common thread running through most real estate fraud schemes is an offer that is to good to be true. When prominent public figures like Lindsay Hunter make offers that seem too good to be true, especially in harsh economic times, consumers tend to lose their judgment and make poor decisions
As a result of Bruce coming forward, I was able to put his case in front of serious law enforcement officials who are now attempting to sort through this mess. From Crain’s Detroit Business:
Is Lindsey Hunter, the veteran guard of the Detroit Pistons, a victim of mortgage fraud? Or is he a perpetrator?
That’s what two investigations, one by the Wayne County Register of Deeds’ mortgage-fraud task force, the other by the FBI, want to determine.
So far, Wayne County investigators consider him a victim, with someone else serving as what they describe as “a mastermind.” The FBI, on the other hand, according to sources close to its investigation, has him as its main focus and as a leading participant in at least two possibly fraudulent deals that went awry.
Stay turned to FlippingFrenzy.com for more information and developments on this story. In the meantime, read “Pistons guard: Duplicitous or dupe in mortgage fraud?” for more information.