Former real estate investor pays victims more than $405K

By Glen Mills

Published 09/27 2013 03:36PM

Updated 09/27 2013 06:10PM

SALT LAKE CITY, (ABC 4 Utah) – A former real estate investor is paying the price for promising to save clients from foreclosure and failing to deliver.

Michael Robinson, 42, the former owner of Paramount Holdings was convicted for running a fraudulent real estate scheme last year. This month his victims got their money back.

Robinson paid more than $405,000 to 17 victims. In exchange for paying full restitution his prison sentence was suspended.

Jeff Atkinson is one of those victims. Back in 2006 he changed jobs and took a pay cut. As a result, he got behind on the bills.

With foreclosure looming Robinson stepped in with what seemed to be the solution.

"He came to our door and said hey, I can help you. I can save your home from going into foreclosure, from you losing your home," said Atkinson.

Robinson preyed on homeowners just like Atkinson. He promised to help save them from foreclosure with financial assistance and credit counseling, if they signed the house over to him.

"We'd pay rent and then at a future date when our credit was fixed we would buy it back from him at current market value," said Atkinson.

That opportunity never came.

"He took out all the equity and when the market crashed the home was worth less than he owed on it," said Atkinson.

He continued to rent the home, but other victims were evicted by Robinson. The Attorney General’s Office says he was spreading false hope all along.

“The problem is it really wasn't legal, because it was all based on lies, fraud, misrepresentations," said Chief Deputy Attorney General, Kirk Torgensen.

Robinson pleaded guilty to two felony charges, communications fraud and pattern of unlawful activity.

The Attorney General's Office says that's the best conclusion for victims who loose everything.

"We are really putting a lot of emphasis on these kinds of cases, make the victim whole, get them paid, get the restitution, up front if you can," said Torgensen.

The Attorney General's office recently presented all of Robinsons victims with their restitution check. For Atkinson, it came as a big surprise.

One that couldn't have come at a better time, as he gets back on track with the new house he closed on just last week.

"It's amazing! I mean the stuff I went through with my wife and the heart aches and the stress," said Atkinson as he fought back tears.

Robinson who has since moved out of state had his real estate license revoked and is banned from practicing in the state of Utah for life.
He was also given three years probation.

The Attorney General's Office says if you are in a similar situation and get an offer like this to always get a second opinion from another industry expert.

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