A 37-year-old Plant City man has been arrested after he concocted a scheme to sell or mortgage properties that didn’t belong to him, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.
Detectives in the agency’s economic crimes unit began investigating a report of fraudulent activity in January 2019. They discovered that Michael Bogsted, a Florida-licensed real estate broker, went after at least six properties that he thought were either abandoned or owned by people who couldn’t afford the property taxes and were heading to tax auctions, the agency said in a news release Wednesday evening.
The self-employed Bogsted “would create fraudulent deeds, fictitious release of mortgages, and satisfaction of mortgages by forging signatures and utilizing fictitious notary stamps,” according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Detectives say he then used a website designed for online real estate transactions to file the fake deeds electronically so that he could transfer “ownership to various entities in order to obtain control of the property on paper.”
Once that was done, Bogsted was able to sell a given property or take out a mortgage on it, the release said.
According to detectives, Bogsted made at least $327,000 from the six properties. In 2019, the market value of those properties was about $1,071,000.
He faces a charge of scheme to defraud, the release said.
Bogsted was arrested at his home Tuesday and booked into a Hillsborough County Jail, records show. He was released on $150,000 bail a few hours later.
The investigation is ongoing.