Friday, April 13, 2007

Nightline Plotline


April 13, 2007 — In Sacramento, Calif., not far from where prospectors sought quick riches in the gold rush more than a century ago, another speculative boom is going bust.
This time, however, it's not the lure of precious metals — it's real estate.
"The market was hot, and I decided to give it a shot," said Casey Serin, a modern-day speculator who hoped to strike it rich quick by buying homes, fixing them up and then flipping them for a profit.
The Lure of Quick Cash
Serin said he has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. Born in Uzbekistan, the 24-year-old came to the United States with his family in 1994 and became a U.S. citizen nine years later.
Watch the full story on 'Nightline' tonight at 11:35 p.m. EDT
After graduating from high school, he found a full-time job as a Web site programmer. But Serin was always interested in starting his own business.
In particular, he was drawn to real estate. So Serin attended real estate seminars and bought how-to CDs, DVDs and books.
"My first set of seminars was $15,000," he said. He was hooked, eventually spending nearly $35,000 on what he calls his real estate education.
Watch the full story on 'Nightline' tonight at 11:35 p.m. EDT
"I kept spending because I thought, 'I need more education,'" Serin said.
And after he made a profit buying and selling one property, he eventually jumped into the real estate boom that was gripping the nation.
"My first deal was $30,000. I got a bit of euphoria. I thought I could do this more and more. Exuberant feelings led me to buy more property."
Buying Spree
Starting in 2005 Serin went on a real estate shopping binge, buying eight homes in eight months in four different states. Along the way, he quit his job to devote himself full-time to real estate investing.
In October 2005, he bought one home in Sacramento, then another one in January 2006. The next month, he purchased two properties in New Mexico. Next, he closed on a home in Modesto, Calif. In March 2006, he bought a home sight unseen in Utah as well as another in California.
In May of that year, he bought a home in Dallas, the same way he bought the house in Utah — sight unseen.
In all, he acquired eight homes over eight months, and a lot of debt. "In total I was $2.2 million in debt between mortgages and unsecured lines of credit and credit cards," said Serin.
"It was a very tough thing to face."
Cracks in the Foundation
Serin's problems started when the home repairs often took longer than expected
"My goal was always to fix up the house and resell it for profit quickly," he said, "say within three to four months. [The] problem is three to four months turned into six months, and then my money ran out and I couldn't finish fixing it."
Another problem was timing.
Serin started buying just as the real estate market boom was going bust. His houses sat unsold and his debt continued to climb.
"I created a logistical nightmare for myself trying to do too many properties too fast. And what happened was, I ran out of money," he said.
Creative Financing and 'Liar Loans'
To make matters worse, Serin told ABC News that he purchased his homes using what are known in the lending industry as "low documentation" loans. With these mortgages, borrowers provide limited documentation — or proof — to confirm their income and assets, and lenders base loans on that information with little to no verification.
Serin said that he told lenders on his loan applications that he was making more than his actual salary of $50,000 a year from his computer job.
"I ended up stating more than I was really making because I was able to take advantage of what's called 'stated income loans,'" he said. "In the industry they call them 'liar loans' because the bank basically allows you to state anything you want."
"Low doc" and "no doc" loans were originally intended for the self-employed, whose income can vary year to year or for the very wealthy, who don't want to disclose their earnings.
"Low-doc and no-doc [are] very viable … for a certain segment of the buying public," explained Ed Smith of the California Association of Mortgage Brokers. "For example, a person with high credit scores, the ability to make their payments, a long-term history of being financially prudent with their finances — however, they don't want to disclose full documentation of their income."
But as home prices soared, especially in states such as California, lenders loosened credit requirements and made these loans available to more people.
These higher-risk loans also came with higher interest rates. It is many of those borrowers — like Casey Serin — who are now having problems making their mortgage payments.
"The [loan] products that were available were mismatched in many cases with the wrong customer's financial profile," said Smith. "Many customers got into loan products that were ill-advised or maybe not well thought out. There's no such thing as a bad loan; there's loan products that fit everyone's individual profile."
Zach Gast. who analyzes the mortgage lending industry for the Center for Financial Research and Analysis, said pressure on lenders to continue making loans as homes prices increased led to a loosening of lending standards.
"The standards dropped in nearly everything you can imagine," he said. "Borrowers were not required to provide documentation of their income. They paid less in down payments. And they were also allowed to have higher mortgage payments as a percentage of their income."
According to Credit Suisse, an international financial services group, "low/no doc" loans accounted for nearly half of all home purchase loans issued in 2006 in the United States, up from only 18 percent in 2001.
The Walls Come Down
Serin admitted he lied about his income on his applications.
"It was fairly common to do stated income loans. I thought, well this must be gray area. It's kind of like speeding on the freeway. Everybody does it. As long as you do it within reason, it's all right. Well, I crashed my car."
And as his homes sat unsold and he couldn't make the payments, he continued to dig himself deeper and deeper into debt.
"I started looking for additional loans that I could take out to float additional deals. So I was borrowing from Peter to pay Paul," he explained. "I should have just stopped and faced the consequences, and that might have been better."
Debt collectors started harassing him, his mailbox filled up with delinquent notices and eventually, his lenders started to foreclose. At the end of March 2007, four of his eight homes had been foreclosed on, two of his homes had been sold and two were under contract with other potential buyers.
Going Public
Despite what he has done, Serin has been remarkably candid about his actions. He started a Web site where he posts everything from pictures of his homes to a detailed list of his personal finances.
"There was a time where I was embarrassed," he said, "but after a while I decided, you know what? What's there to be ashamed about? Successful people go through several of these, you know. Failure is part of success."
He has few worries about his how his business venture performed. "In terms of business debt, it doesn't bother me so much anymore."
And his blog, which started out as a place for him to share his experiences with others, has now become a possible business opportunity. "The entrepreneur in me thought, 'Hey, this is great. I can maybe leverage this into some other business later on.'"
He envisions the Web site becoming a place where people facing foreclosure could learn about what to expect, as well as what options might be available to them.
In the Hot Seat
Not everyone sees a silver lining in Serin's actions or his Web site.
"I have a lot of critics that say because of me, the market is overpriced," he said. "Because of me, the renters are priced out. It's interesting. I've been put in a position where I'm blamed for macroeconomic problems. I'm kind of like a mascot for what's really going on."
Commentators on Serin's and their own blogs also express anger at Serin's lifestyle.
"I make things worse by telling them part of the money last year was used for my wife, and I to go on vacation. Well, people don't realize this is one thing we did. Everything else was very frugal," he said.
"We have scaled back in a lot of ways, and we have cut our expenses down. But what happens is people focus on the drama. They see that I'm supposedly living a frivolous lifestyle, they see that I went to a Starbucks or a Jamba Juice … and they say, 'You need to be on rice and beans all the time. You need to be eating Top Ramen all day.'"
Undeterred Despite Debt
Serin maintains that his critics don't realize the severity of his situation.
"You can't just send $5 toward your credit card; they will still continue their collection process," he said. "With foreclosures you can't just pay them a partial payment. They will still do the foreclosure."
While Serin wants to work out deals for his remaining debt, he said he is trying his best to avoid declaring bankruptcy.
"People say maybe you should give up after eight bad deals," he said. "Well, I'd like to say they weren't all bad, and I have learned a lot through it. So I'd like to think the next deal I am going to do is going to be successful."
So, Serin continues to search for his eureka moment and hopes to strike gold.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

"Commentators on Serin's and their own blogs also express anger at Serin's lifestyle."

well at least they got an intern to check out snowflakes site

Rob Dawg said...

My favorite:
Despite what he has done, Serin has been remarkably candid about his actions.

Even Nightline cannot stay unbiased. They understand that Casey should have kept his big mouth shut and what he did was really bad.

Anonymous said...

My favorite:
Serin maintains that his critics don't realize the severity of his situation.

Oh, we don't understand the serverity? I think WE are the ones pointing it out to HIM.

Anonymous said...

Par for the course, the story completely ignores the vertiable pile of money that Casey took back at closing, and the fact that it has apparently vanished into thin air.

Where is the hard-hitting reporting? "Mr. Serin, exactly how much did you claim your income was on the application??"

Oh Homey™, where art thou? :-Þ

Anonymous said...

Serin wouldn't recognize a eureka moment if it shot him in the face.

R-Boy said...

i think it come across well enough

dont worry about homey. r-boy's taken care of things...i got a few more people to call next week

Lou Minatti said...

One of my all-time faves: Spaulding Smails (yes, it's really him) is a real estate agent and says there's no bubble.

Anonymous said...


Too bad they didn't mention the fact that he quit his job before he bought most of those homes, got cash back at closing and said that all would be owner occupied on the loan apps. Oh, and that he and his wife are STILL unemployed and are not looking for jobs.

Rob Dawg said...

Nightline could become the latest victim if they aren't careful. When Casey implodes no end of competetiors will be willing to point out their sloppy coverage.

Anonymous said...

Dawg, if you're not going to link, can you at least format for readability?

I'm with Benoit; this is appallingly light reporting -- it's all based on one unverified interview with Casey, with no investigation into the full story. And so we get Casey admitting to inflating his income; we hear him minimizing this as unimportant ("the bank basically allows it"). But we hear nothing about how he also fraudulently stated all his loans as owner-occupied; we hear nothing about cashback at closing at all, let alone the staggeringly shady third-party transaction the Scotsman Guide mentioned.

From this report, Casey is the gullible victim swept along in a tide of real-estate euphoria and swamped by a sea of questionable lending. Well, no. He's responsible for his actions. He knew full well what he was doing. He knew full well it was dodgy.

"It was fairly common to do stated income loans. I thought, well this must be gray area. It's kind of like speeding on the freeway. Everybody does it. As long as you do it within reason, it's all right."

I am so *fucking* tired of hearing his "it's like speeding on the freeway" bleating.

If he's going to continue to use this analogy, let's take it to its ridiculous conclusion: Casey was speeding in 8 cars simultaneously, claiming they were actually RVs, and taking bungs from the dealerships to do it. Sounds ridiculous now, no?

In what sense was Casey's spending spree "within reason"?

Yet again, Casey has been allowed to spin his story the way he wants it: the up-and-at-'em entrepreneur who just had a run of bad luck, rather than the scheming serial fraudster who still refuses to take any responsibility for his actions.

He's a slippery bugger, he shows no remorse, and he'll do it again if he gets the chance. Send him down.

Rob Dawg said...

Dawg, if you're not going to link, can you at least format for readability?

Sorry, busy, sloppy harried. I see either the light at the end of the tunnel or an oncoming train. I might even start spelling goodly.

Anonymous said...

"So, Serin continues to search for his eureka moment and hopes to strike gold."

Well, at least they got the tag line correct...

Sac RE Agent said...

It sounds like there are a few cutting comments being made in the report. That's good, but I too, would love to see some hard-hitting journalism on this guy. Someone doing some research before doing their report.

Anonymous said...

"In the rush to strike real estate gold, one investor bought eight homes all over the country -- and ended up close to bankruptcy."

CLOSE to bankruptcy? I think fliptard smashed through the BK barrier about four months ago and just hasn't bothered to file yet.

segfault said...

I just sent the following e-mail, based mostly on the comments in this thread, to Nightline (ABC site lists it as "," but I also sent it to "," just to be sure):

Dear Sir or Madam:

I recently read an article on the Nightline site entitled "Real Estate Leaves One Investor High and Dry."

This article focuses on Casey Serin, a failed real estate investor, but the authors of the article failed to perform a thorough investigation into Serin's past. Doing so would have alerted them to
the tens (and possibly hundreds) of thousands of dollars he took in illegal cash back at closing (above the state-allowed limits) on each
of the properties. This cash apparently vanished into thin air. It also would have revealed his current plan to set up a shell or sham
corporation to obtain even more credit, now that his personal credit history has too many black marks on it. Both of these facts are available from his Wikipedia article. Also, he quit his full-time job before obtaining most of the stated-income loans, and also represented that he would be using each of the eight homes he purchased as his
personal residence. Do these sound like the actions of a reputable person who was merely misled?

Casey's story was spun to make him appear to be an innocent victim who got duped by the system, when in fact he is a serial con artist who
refuses to take responsibility for his actions. I ask that you write a follow-up story wherein you interview public officials and bankers
about the problem of mortgage fraud, citing Serin as a specific example of someone who has flagrantly abused the system and gotten
away with it.

Best regards,

Anonymous said...

Did you guys see CHJTS's sweet Nigerian 419 comment?

93. fantasmo publishing
April 13th, 2007 at 2:44 pm

Dear Mr. Casey,

I have received your name from publishing newsgroup and am very excited to have you be my in the first phase of our US distributorship.

Recently I was diagnosed with cancer, and with that a Mr. Orack klkklk (prounounced click click), a well known and respected oil barren in my country, passed away without any heirs.

Currently the International Bank of Nigeria holds 4 lockboxes containing 2.2 million USD (two million two hundred thousand) and the only way to disburse the money is through a charitable company they have set up to help aspiring novice authors.

I am a christian man with a loving family and a dotable wife and I would not rip you off.

Upon receipt of your email confirmation we may proceed to disburse to you the sum of 400,000 USD (four hundred thousand), for you to mass market your book, print, and advertise.

The binding and printer is of your own choosing, you simply need to make a formal declaration of your intent to write the book and publish it.

The process is very simple as follows:

Please send a confirmation email to

There will be a small processing fee as follows:

400 USD application fee
200 USD Wire Transfer Fee to an account of your choosing
2500 USD Barrista Retainer and associated fees.

Total 3100 USD.

You will need to send this money western union to Nigeria before any payments will be disbursed to you.

I pray whitforth that you receive this message in good faith and with utmost confidentiality.

Please email confirmation to

Anonymous said...

"2500 USD Barrista Retainer and associated fees."

of course, how could our precious write a book without Starbucks?

Aspeth said...

@R-boy...While looking for a different paper trail today, I came across five DBA's reg'd to one Casey Serin. The first was reg'd when he would have only been about 16; the last is active. Not if you already have these included in your "Best of Casey Serin" CD.

Aspeth said...

oops...last line should read "Not sure if..."

I blame the cabernet.

R-Boy said...

aspeth, email me those dba's and ill see what i can find, and ill send them to the appropriate investigators

I will keep saying this : Its all good, for justice that is. Justice, unlike Casey, is not impulsive.

One reason why justice is slow is that, typically, the agency will bring forth charges and schedule trial and arrest the person on the same day. That means that the WHOLE case, from start to finish, has to be completed before anything actually occurs. Then its wham, bam, thank you mam.

Ive had some very productive conversations with folks this week. I will be continuing next week, work permitting. in the meantime, keep up the sleuthing

aspeth, email me that stuff at

Anonymous said...

Comment on the Nightline story on their message boards which the editors read.

Anonymous said...

Clickable link fixed?

Anonymous said...

Snowflake is on right now here on the east coast....

Whoops he just said: "win-win.....It's all good"

Drink up everybody!

Anonymous said...

Casey is a lying sack of shit.

He's admitting his fraud, but he makes it sounds like he's the victim....I'd like to beat him with that stupid murse. However, the look on Vicky Mabry's face as she's interviewing him is priceless. She's looking at him like he's lost his mind.

This is not a totally complimentary story. Thank heaven.

Anonymous said...

His site won't load. Probably getting thousands of hits.

Miranda Mayer said...

Geez; while I'm on the road to Astoria all this drama is going on? Yikes.

Akubi said...

Where is the YouTube recorded "thingy" for those on the West coast?

Akubi said...

Ironically, I'm currently watching Network on TCM.

Aspeth said...

R-boy...don't have your email; tried to find it through your blog (btw...YOU'RE a part of TRAIL GIRL?!?!?! I LOVE that blog!!!) Have it posted over at

Aspeth said...

R-boy...ayech...just saw the bottom of the post. Apologies. I've been out tonight ;-)

Anonymous said...

I wonder what Casey was doing with ...

Anonymous said...

Search Sacramento County fictitious business name filings at .

Casey's choices seem to be:

Serin Vending
Serin Sites
Phun Club

Apparently Serin Sites had at least one customer: . . . if you read the source for the page, it appears that the site was reconstructed from an Internet Archive copy, perhaps when SerinSites stopped working.

You can see an ad for the condo Casey sold at

Anonymous said...

Did anyone else notice that Casey closes his eyes every time he lied on Nightline?

ratlab said...


Sell Hammar (sic) pants?

Anonymous said...


Hammar Investments was incorporated in 2003, but Casey is the current owner.

When he mentioned the pump and dump GSPG stock, he mentioned something about posting a screen shot of his corporate E-trade account.

I do believe that you found the new Casey Corp.

Anonymous said...

"I have tried...I have tied so terribly hard."

Coming soon - Galya is pregnant, or at least Casey wants us to speculate that she is.

Casey has been changing the anti-spam code to feature words including "gamete" "zygote" and "pregnancy".

Expect more troll-baiting from Casey in the nearest future.

God help us all.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure Yulia the sister in law will be happy to have another freeloader in her home for the forseeable future...not!

God that kid is seriously handicapped...and he/she hasn't seen a second of TV yet!

Anonymous said...

Assuming that Casey is not trolling. I do hope he is.

Otherwise, just when we think Casey has made his final leap over the shark, he is using his own child to make another run at it.

Anonymous said...

A pregnancy would create yet another distraction and a reason to make the "haters" look worse (in Casey's eyes, anyway). How can you attack and expectant father, blah, blah, blah.

It would also explain why Galina abruptly quit school. It would keep sister-in-law from throwing them out. It might buy sympathy with some creditors. All giggles aside, if these folks bring an innocent child into this mess, than Casey is truly, truly sick. But hey, he's had a beg a thon and he "outed" his own wife, and he uses Scripture to justify his criminal actions. Sadly, what would make this any different?

Anonymous said...

@ gbroiles
Interesting find. I wonder if Neil J. Townley is local rich dad? I couldn't find anything on google for Dustin Townley though.

This shows you what a professionally run website gositenow was.

And it was yet another pyramid scheme.

Anonymous said...

Anyone want to wager a guess at what "The Miracle of Touch" registered by Aleksey Serin is?

DO NOT settle for amature design.

Anonymous said...

Shark-jumping logo, anyone?

Anonymous said...


Check this out...what Snowflake thought his sites/skillz were worth

And here is old contact info

Anonymous said...

Ack another realtard with a Snowflake site

Somebody mail these to R-boy please

Anonymous said...

What the heck is a permanent cosmetic?

Anonymous said...


Now that you mention it, a pregnancy answers all sorts of questions, including "you can't judge me because you haven't been in my shoes."

OK, not a logical explanation but it might serve as a rationalization in KC's mind.

But what the hell was G doing having sex with Casey? I thought women were supposed to withhold their favors when their men act like looser jackasses?

Anonymous said...

@ anon 6:16
Love it, $58/hour for custom website design and he left "new heading" at the bottom of the page.

@ anon 6:21
I don't know, but sign me up for the
Areola Repigmentation Bilateral.......$600

@ Sid
You assume the child is Casey's. My sweet cashback is on the kid coming out looking more than a little like Tony Soprano.

Anonymous said...

Oops, that second remark was at anon 6:26

Anonymous said...

@ming: It's a logical assumption, but as soon as G found out she was preggers, she would have to run to Casey to get some, um, plausible deniability. So one way or the other, Casey somehow got some.

That and if the kid really sprang from the loins of the mailman or some other looser with a W-2 job, wouldn't G use that chance (if she could) to hit the door? Would YOU want your kid to have Snowflak for a father?

IIRC, in DC they run a paternity test as a matter of course. Wonder how it goes down in Sac-town?

Anonymous said...

@ Anon 6:26

What the heck is a permanent cosmetic?

It's a tattoo.

Anonymous said...


Unfortunately, I believe that Galina is a traditional wife in every sense of the word. Given their cultural background, and backed with Casey's not consulting with her about anything until after the fact, or considering pimping her out on the blog. I believe that she is performing her wifely duties.

Casey is a proven manipulator--he wouldn't marry a strong woman who would fight back and/or walk out. And if they are fundamentalists, they may not be using birth control.


Anonymous said...

Permanent cosmetics... LOL... I've seen a few of those ladies, with total spider-face eyebrows and eighties eyeliner..

Anonymous said...

Hi everyone -

I took a much needed break from the CC (my new term for snowflake - CC stands for Crazy Casey).

Anyway, is G pregnant?
Perhaps CC switched the BC pills with vitamins? Or, maybe he stuck pins in the condom?

What is with all the "nice nice" of the nightline story. I can't believe they didn't hit him hard on the liar loans, multiple closings, unemployment, etc.

Anonymous said...


If by G's "cultural background" you are referring to the fact that she is Russian, do NOT fall for that.

I live in Russia and work in Russian, had more Russian girlfriends than I care to count, so I speak from some experience here.

That and Russia has some of the highest divorce rates in the world.