Sarasota man charged with fraudulently selling home belonging to Michigan resident and using stolen identification information

Vernon Lavoie being held on bond of $36,500

Vernon Lavoie. Photo courtesy Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office

The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office has arrested a Sarasota resident on allegations that he fraudulently sold a Sarasota home and opened a bank account using stolen identification information.

Vernon Lavoie, 55, of 2525 S. Tamiami Trail, Unit 103, in Sarasota, has been charged with single counts of Scheme to Defraud $50,000 or More, Mortgage Fraud, and Counterfeiting of a Driver’s License, along with two counts of Criminal Use of Personal Identification, a news release says.

Bond of $20,000 was set on the first charge, according to Corrections Division records provided by the Sheriff’s Office on its website. The total bond on the other charges is $16,500. He is scheduled to be arraigned on Sept. 25, the Corrections records show.

He also was listed as unemployed.

Lavoie recently was arrested in Alabama on a charge of Identity Theft, and is on probation for a Grand Theft conviction, the news release points out. His probation is due to end on April 4, 2021, the Sheriff’s Office report notes.

He was arrested on Aug. 13; as of Aug. 17, he remained in custody at the Sarasota County Correctional Facility while the investigation continued.

The Sheriff’s Office began looking into its investigation on May 13 when the victim reported a house he owned in Sarasota was being sold without his authorization, the news release says.

The victim, who was not identified in the official report, contacted the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office in Pontiac, Mich., noting that the house had a value of $97,200, according to the Sarasota County Property Appraiser’s Office.

A detective with the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office reviewed the records associated with Lavoie’s alleged fraudulent sale of the same property for $62,900 on March 6, the report says. A Notary Public for Pinellas County notarized the documents, the report adds.

After obtaining records of the sale “and the completed wire transfer from Tiago National Title LLC and SunTrust Bank,” the report continues, the detective learned that Lavoie used the name and information of another person to open a SunTrust account” to complete the wire transfer of $58,785.43 on March 12.

Then the detective observed Lavoie on surveillance video from three different SunTrust branches within Sarasota County, the report notes. Lavoie made cash withdrawals of $8,000, $10,000 and $14,000 from the SunTrust account, out of the proceeds from the wire transfer, the report says.

Tiago National Title has several Florida offices, including those in Bradenton, St. Petersburg and Tampa. Image from the firm’s website

After getting a copy of the Florida driver’s license Lavoie allegedly used “to complete the sale of the home with Tiago National Title LLC,” the report continues, the detective determined that the photo on that license “was a photo of [Lavoie].” However, the Florida driver’s license number was fraudulent, the report points out. The address and date of birth listed on the license are those of the owner of the home Lavoie is charged with selling under fraudulent circumstances, the report says. “Tiago National Title LLC confirmed the male in the [driver’s license] photo provided is the male who signed all of the paperwork to complete the sale,” the report adds.

The actual owner of the house told the Sheriff’s Office detective that he did not know Lavoie, the report adds, and that Lavoie did not have permission to sell or conduct any business involving the victim’s Sarasota property.