Rex Allen Harris, Louisiana-based advertiser, was recently sentenced to 38 months in prison for scamming real estate agents out of nearly $2 million in lead generation and referral services he never delivered on over the course of eight years.
Agents paid thousands of dollars for digital ads and commercials that they were told would run on major television networks in their ZIP codes. Those commercials, Harris claimed, would boost agents’ sales and rake in the referrals.
According to court documents, he also used Craigslist and ZipRecruiter to hire people who contacted and met with REALTORS® interested in using Harris’ services.
He provided employees with telephone scripts, sales brochures and network placement guides.
Part of the script read to agents:
The “closers” also showed potential clients false testimonial videos where actors, who posed as agents, praised Agents By City’s advertising services.
Lastly, agents were asked to sign advertising agreements that promised leads equal to the purchase price, which ranged from hundreds to thousands of dollars, within the first 90 days of the service.
Agents were asked to pay by check, and Harris used that money to pay his employees and fund his personal lifestyle, which included purchasing merchandise through PayPal, Foot Locker and Nike.com and New Orleans Saints season tickets, amounting to $1,628,319.
Harris operated under a number of business names, such as Our Family First Realty, Better Realty Deals, Amazing Realty Deals, The Top Agent/Monolith Media Group, and American Real Estate Idols, and when agents complained about not seeing the ads, Harris’ “closers” sent emails threatening and chastising them.
A “closer’s” email response to a concerned agent: