A Canton man police described as “a con artist” will be sentenced later this month on fraud charges related to a scheme to swindle money from people who were losing their homes when the housing bubble burst.
David Gerard Hieb, 70, was convicted March 20 in Wayne County Circuit Court of embezzling $50,000 to $100,0000, obtaining $20,000 or more through false pretenses and common law fraud, The Observer & Eccentric reports.
He was charged as a habitual offender.
He will be sentenced April 11. After his conviction, he was remanded to jail by Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Qiana Denise Lillard.
A Washington, D.C. investor, one of the victims in the scheme, reportedly invested $90,000 through a third party in a shell company Hieb was supposedly using to buy foreclosed homes in metro Detroit. After a few years, the investor’s money was gone and there was no paper trail to account for where it went, nor was any property transferred in his name.
Police never located the go-between.
Police said that as part of the scheme, Hieb made a list of homeowners facing foreclosures, went to their neighborhoods and took pictures of their houses. When confronted, he posed as a businessman who could help save their homes, collecting $1,000 to $2,000 from several victims who would eventually be evicted from their homes.
He was able to pass himself off as trustworthy among the residents of towns like Canton, Livonia and Northville, but in fact was “he was a con artist who bilked people out of thousands of dollars,” Canton police Lt. Dave Schreiner said. “He took advantage of people at a low point in their lives.”Schreiner hopes the case will be a warning to homeowners who are desperate to save their homes to thoroughly check the credentials of people who claim to they can help them avoid foreclosure.