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Officials charge man with loan scam

A Largo detective says the man got an advance fee to arrange a loan for the purchase of a service station.

At first, Rania Bahdouchi and Sameer Malki thought they had found the right person to help them buy the Largo Shell station they were leasing.

He was supposed to be a licensed mortgage broker, who also could find them a lender.

He had an impressive resume and documents showing he had arranged a $1.7-million loan from a New York mortgage company for another business.

After dealing with the man for several months and paying him a $500 advance fee to get them a loan, Bahdouchi and Malki became suspicious. They had reason to be, police say.

Largo Detective James Monahan arrested Terry L. Loyd, 41, on May 5 and accused him of defrauding them with what is known as an advance fee scheme.

"It was all a lie," said Bahdouchi. "He wasn't licensed, and his bonding company has never heard of him. He wasn't going to get us a mortgage."

Loyd of 601 Rosery Road in Largo was charged with scheming to defraud. He was released on his own recognizance from Pinellas County Jail. He refused to comment Friday, referring questions to his attorney, Jay Hebert.

Hebert said he is investigating the complaint against Loyd and wants to determine whether the matter is civil or criminal.

"Stealing people's money is not a crime?" said Bahdouchi, 30. "I think it is."

Loyd had been referred to Bahdouchi and Malki in February by a friend who knew they wanted to buy the Shell service station they had been leasing at Missouri Avenue and Rosery Road. With previous jobs at various banks and financial companies, Loyd is the manager of a local company that negotiates commercial real estate and residential loans, his resume stated.

Monahan said the company does not exist. A contract shown to Bahdouchi and Malki to persuade them to do business with Loyd was supposed to be for a $1.7-million loan from a New York commercial mortgage company that he arranged for a rental business. That, too, was bogus, the detective said.

The March 5 loan contract for $550,000 presented to Bahdouchi and Malki for their business was also a fake, according to Monahan. The company name in the letterhead was misspelled, as were many other things in the contract. That was one of the things that made Bahdouchi and Malki suspicious and prompted them to contact police.

The contract called for an additional non-refundable advance fee of $4,000 for getting the loan and a 2 percent "good faith deposit," which would have amounted to a total of $15,000.

"He had two bogus contracts and a bogus resume," Monahan said. "He is a person who takes advance fees and never closes. He used to be a mortgage broker, but he certainly isn't licensed now."

To Malki, losing money was not as upsetting as the possibility of losing his business because of bogus financing.

"If we had gone to a closing, I would have lost the business," said Malki, 42. "Since I don't have a lease anymore because we are trying to buy, someone else would have gotten the business."

For Bahdouchi and Malki, it could have been worse. Some advance fee schemes require payments of $2,000 to $25,000 to cover the expenses of arranging a fraudulent loan, according to police.

Monahan, who thinks there are other victims in Largo, advised people to investigate a loan brokers' credentials, licenses and references. Poorly written documents purporting to be loan contracts also should be suspect.

"Take the time to check them out," he said. "Notice things like typos and misspellings, things that raise some red flags."