There’s money to be made from misery, and an Atlanta man and his cohorts figured a way to line their pockets as the foreclosure crisis hit Georgia. Real estate investor Eric Hulsman and co-conspirators rigged bids at foreclosure auctions in Fulton and DeKalb counties. Then, the group held members-only secret, second auctions to bid for title to the rigged foreclosure properties. Federal prosecutors laid out the scheme in March, when Hulsman was indicted. This week, Hulsman pleaded guilty for his role in the scheme, which went on for at least five years, from early 2007 through at least December 2011. Now, he could face 10 years in federal prison when he is sentenced July 30 on four counts.
He could have the company of other Georgians there. This past January, Mohammad Adeel Yoonas and Kevin Shin pleaded guilty to bid-rigging at public foreclosure auctions in Gwinnett County. First to fall in Gwinnett was apparently Mohamed Hanif Omar who pleaded guilty in April 2014 to his role in rigging bids at Gwinnett foreclosure auctions.
The earliest plea, though, came in 2013, when Seth D. Lynn, owner of Penguin Properties LLC, pleaded guilty to bid rigging and mail fraud conspiracy at foreclosure auctions in Fulton and DeKalb counties. He also faced up to 10 years in prison. The three-month sentence he drew may be the result of the information he has provided prosecutors. In court documents, his attorney notes that “Lynn continues to be available to answer questions the government has had about other individuals. In other words, his prosecution and incarceration has played a significant part in the general deterrence within the real estate foreclosure business.” Lynn has been on home confinement, which is due to expire in August.