Feds charge real estate broker with using millions of investors’ money to play lottery
FOX 2 – – A real estate agent faces 20 years in prison for allegedly cheating on millions of investors and spending them on the lottery.
According to federal investigators, Viktor Gjonaj founded a fake title company and raised $ 26 million from investors by writing checks or having their money transferred to him or the company.
Real estate investor accused of taking money from others and playing the lottery
A real estate agent faces 20 years in prison for allegedly cheating on millions of investors and spending them on the lottery.
They thought they were investing in real estate – but Gjonaj was spending the money on the lottery – up to a million dollars a week.
The government says Gjonaj’s plan fell apart in August 2019, and when the smoke cleared he cheated on at least 24 investors of around $ 19 million.
“In all honesty, I’ve never heard of anyone just giving money to a title company to buy property on their behalf,” said Guy Gailliard, real estate professional. “There are many checks and balances that should be put in place and you should know that this is a really legitimate sale.”
Real estate professionals were stunned when they heard about the program. How it started: The government says Gjonaj came up with a way to win big jackpots in the Michigan Lottery in 2016. He often started gambling and spending a lot of money.
By 2017, investigators said he had lost a lot more than he earned, and instead of stopping, he doubled down, using investors’ money to fund his bets and paying them back for a while with his winnings – not theirs Income.
His attorney Steve Fishman made the following statement: “Victor Gjonaj was a well-respected businessman who unfortunately developed a gambling addiction that led him into this situation. His gambling addiction was known to the State of Michigan, which allowed him to continue playing the lottery.”
“When we talk about responsibility, the responsibility always falls back on the player and guess what? It should, “said Michael Burke.” Someone who took that kind of money, I don’t think we can leave it to anyone else. ” but the player. “
Burke is the executive director of the Michigan Association on Problem Gambling and an expert on gambling addiction.
“When someone loses that kind of money, they usually do what we call hunting,” he said. “In other words, they gambled all their money and it’s gone. And now they’re getting in trouble and they have to get out and they go to other sources to get the money. What they want You have to get the money back to get them.” Pay back people who have taken their money. “
He was charged with criminal information. We are told that this usually means that the accused must plead guilty.