A federal grand jury in West Palm Beach returned an indictment yesterday against three high-volume Florida real estate investors for conspiring to rig bids submitted through the online property foreclosure auction process, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced.
These are the first indictments related to bid rigging in foreclosure auctions filed in Florida by the DOJ’s Antitrust Division. The Antitrust Division has prosecuted similar bid rigging conduct in Alabama, California, Georgia and North Carolina, resulting in more than 100 guilty pleas and convictions in those states.
The indictment was filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida and charges Avi Stern, Christopher Graeve, and Stuart Hankin with conspiring to rig bids during online auctions in Palm Beach County, Florida in order to obtain foreclosed properties at suppressed prices. The indictment alleges that the conduct took place from at least January 2012 until June 2015.