CLEARWATER — Adriana Abreu's Web site might sound enticing to real estate agents struggling in this dreadful market.
"I am a licensed real estate agent," Abreu writes on the Web site. "I own Island Way Properties on Clearwater Beach. Just like you, I made my living solely on real estate sales. When the real estate market slowed, I realized I had to find another source of income. But what?''
The 40-year-old Clearwater woman said she started a futures market trading business and has "been so successful trading that I now remodeled half of my real estate office and turned it into a trading room.''
She invited others to join her and make a fortune.
But one investor told Clearwater police that Abreu led him not to success, but a scam.
She was arrested Monday and charged with grand theft of more than $100,000 after an investigation that began late last year, Clearwater police spokeswoman Elizabeth Daly-Watts said Wednesday.
Paul Jallo, 40, of Tarpon Springs told Clearwater police Detective Chris White that Abreu pocketed $410,000 he gave her as an investment in the stock market.
In March and April of last year, Abreu promised Jallo a 10 percent monthly profit on the money he invested, according to an arrest report. When he asked for his money back after several months, she wrote him checks that bounced.
That claim is bunk, said Abreu's defense attorney, George E. Tragos.
"When it fleshes out, it will be shown that a person made an investment, lost his money and now wants somebody to pay him back,'' Tragos said.
He said the case "is strictly a civil issue'' and the only reason Abreu was jailed was because "Jallo got the police to arrest her.''
"She is a legitimate businesswoman,'' Tragos said.
But detectives are working with other potential victims, Daly-Watts said. "There could be a dozen,'' she said.
In 2005 story in the Times, Jallo said he owns strip shopping centers, gas stations and other businesses from Hernando County to Punta Gorda.
Abreu was released the same day she was arrested after posting $50,000 bail.
Neither Abreu nor Jallo returned calls Wednesday from the Times.
Times researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report. Eileen Schulte can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4153.