Jason Hartman and Elisabeth Embry start off the show by reminding you that it’s time to make your 5 year plan. Not only will it help you create and guide your future, but it could win you some nice prizes from Jason. The two discuss how a 5 year plan helped Elisabeth and her husband become financially free, and how they do their yearly check-in.
Then, Jason talks to another potential victim of PIP West and their tax lien business. Jason talks with Bill Truss, who invested nearly $100,000 in tax liens several years ago, has only received $28,000 back, and is unable to get any movement on closing out the liens he holds on properties in Illinois. The two discuss what was promised, what was delivered, and what it would take to make things right.
Jason & Elisabeth Intro:
[4:13] How Elisabeth Embry’s 5 year plan led her to Jason and Meet the Masters
[7:02] How it feels to be financially free
[10:28] We can author our future
[14:47] What to do BEFORE you do your 5 year plan
[17:00] How Elisabeth and her husband go over their past year and their next 5 years every year
Bill Truss Interview:
[23:39] How Bill met PIP West
[26:43] What happened to Bill after he invested $99,664.71 with PIP West
[29:15] What a tax lien is and how it works
[32:04] The additional invoices Bill’s received for “administrative fees”
[35:33] What Bill is asking for from PIP West
Jason: Okay, this is the interview with Bill Truss, that’s T-r-u-s-s. He’s another victim of PIP or PIP West or Platinum Investment Properties. This is a company that sells tax liens and tax deed investments and we’ve done a couple of shows on them and we’re going to do another one. Here we go.
Jason intro: Hey, it’s my pleasure to welcome Bill Truss to the show. I’ve done some shows in the past about a company called PIP and that stands for Platinum Investment Properties. They go by the name PIP West as well and the principal is Charles Sells, S-e-l-l-s, and I believe that I have been a victim of this company and I believe they’ve done me wrong with my investments, and I am actually litigating a case with them now and I believe it’s looking pretty good. I don’t believe they have much of a case and we’ve also interviewed another alleged victim of theirs, Florence Hamler, on another episode that I did and now we’ve got another one who reached out to me recently and that’s Bill Truss. Bill, welcome. How are you?
Bill: I’m fine. How are you?
Jason: Good. And where are you located? You’re in Florida, I believe, right?
Bill: That’s correct.
Bill: Pembroke Pines so yes.
Jason: Pembroke Pines, okay. Fantastic. And, Bill, I just want to make sure that at the beginning of this interview, before we dive into your story and your case that I once again make the overture to Charles Sells, the owner of PIP or Platinum Investment Properties, I want to invite him again to come on the show and share his side of the story in terms of my case, your case, Florence Hamler’s case and any of the other people who come out and claim that PIP has done them wrong and cheated them in some way or overcharged them or whatever the claims are. So again, Charles Sells, we would be happy to have you on the show to come and you know, tell your side of the story and rebut anything that anybody shares, including myself, on the show. So that invitation stands and you’re welcome to come on the show and do that. Okay, Charles? So, there you go.
Okay, so Bill, you told me earlier today when you reached out to us that you had invested I believe $100,000 with PIP after seeing them speak at an equity trust conference and that was in about, what, 2013, 2014, I think you said?
Bill: Actually, yes, it probably was 2013.
Jason: Okay. So tell us about that, what happened there so… who was the speaker? Was it Charles Sells or was it Don Fullman? Who spoke? And this was like a group setting, a public speaking engagement, right?
Bill: Yes. Don Fullman had a booth at this equity trust convention and I had heard about, read about, what tax liens were so I then approached Don Fullman at his booth and we spoke briefly about his company.
Jason: And then did you see an actual presentation like a formal presentation from either Don Fullman, Charles Sells or somebody else?
Bill: Yes, I did. It was Don Fullman who had the presentation.
Jason: Okay. And what did he say? What did he tell you? What did they claim in the presentation that you could achieve by investing with them?
Bill: Well, primarily they promoted Illinois tax liens and they said that in Illinois there was an 18 percent possible return on investment in a six-month period and that being 36 percent, of course, in a year, so that sort of got my attention and I listened to what they had to say.
Jason: Yeah, that’s a pretty awesome return on investment, isn’t it? And they even promised me higher potential returns by investing in tax liens because not only do you get to invest in the tax lien and get that return, which is kind of an interest rate sort of return I guess I’ll call it, but you also have the potential to purchase these properties in essence through foreclosure at an incredible discount and that’s where it went all wrong in my case, which I’ve explained on the show before and I know you heard that episode where I explain that. But, okay, so you just liked that return, you invested $100,000 and was this money from your retirement account that you invested or was it outside of your retirement account?
Bill: It was from my retirement account.
Jason: Okay, that makes it I’d say especially important or especially, you know, tragic. I hope this doesn’t end up as being tragic and that’s your retirement so that’s obviously super important to you and everybody else. And I just want to say that I believe that Equity Trust is a fine company. I think they’re doing a great job in terms of the self-directed IRA business and it has nothing to do with them, I don’t think this should be a reflection on them. You may feel different and feel free to add your comments but this was an event where PIP spoke at their event, you know, probably rented a booth there and was one of the speakers and each presenter presents their own thing so that’s not necessarily affiliated with Equity Trust in any way. So, what happened next after you invested $100,000?
Bill: Well, basically next after… and to be more specific it was $99,664.71.
Jason: Okay, you are specific.
Bill: But, what happened next there were a number of email exchanges and such and I received a very attractive binder from PIP West.
Jason: Like a notebook, you mean, right?
Bill: Yes. Right.
Jason: Okay, all right. Tell us about that. What was in there?
Bill: Yes. Well, I mean, it gave me a map of Illinois and it also explained the counties where I had investments—St. Claire County, Brown County and Kankakee and it… I have documentation here that those properties right now, I have control over those properties via the tax lien and that has, you know, that’s just all that I have on that particular part of it now. Other than that, in 2013 I did receive some returns. I do not have the exact amount of returns that I have but there were some returns that I received and it would probably amount to something like about $28,000.
Jason: Twenty-eight thousand dollars. So you invested, we’ll just round it off, say $100,000. I mean, it’s close enough. So you invested about $100,000 and you got about $28,000 back, you’re saying? Right?
Bill: Yeah. Right.
Jason: And what happened to the rest of the money? I mean, you know, there’s still about another $72,000 plus any potential and hopefully profits. I mean, the idea of investing is to make a profit on your investment, not just get it back. But, what happened next?
Bill: Well, I mean, after the initial redemptions of the tax liens happened and they would have gone up to perhaps maybe 2014, this was the end of 2012 when I first started investing. In 2014, then that’s when all of the redemptions dried up, so that’s the way it’s been since that time. And since that time I have communicated with them on numerous occasions trying to find out what my redemptions would be resumed and I have not received any information as to when they would be resumed. They did say that they would do foreclosures on these properties but that has not netted me any returns.
Jason: Okay, just so the listeners understand a little bit and feel free, Bill, to just explain your understanding of this investment, you know, I’ll give you my overview just for the listeners so they understand. Basically, what happens here with tax liens or tax deed investing is when someone doesn’t pay their property taxes on their property, certain municipalities offer investors the opportunity to buy the rights, that tax lien, so that government agency, that municipality, can have money right away. Yeah, but the investor gets the opportunity to earn a return on their investment by buying that tax deed or tax lien and they do it in two ways. They can earn an ongoing return of we’ll call it an interest rate type return and that’s what you talked about earlier when you said the 18 percent, and/or they can actually foreclose on the property if the property owner does not pay the lien off. Then the investor has the right to foreclose and actually own the property, and there have been some incredible stories that many of us have heard over the years about people buying, you know, really valuable property for almost nothing—for pennies on the dollar quite literally, and that’s the opportunity so did you actually… so PIP you said recommended that you foreclose on some of the properties that you purchased tax liens or tax deeds on, right? Did you start the foreclosure process or not?
Bill: Well, I have not been actively involved in the foreclosure process. I have spoken with some of the office managers that are at PIP, which… and it was my attempt to have them to give me some pointers on how this should be done, but I have not received any information on how this is actually supposed to be done.
Jason: Okay, so in my case, and on another episode I told my story; they told me to pay basically $17,000 to start foreclosure on 10 properties and then they basically took one of the properties and re-titled it to themself and by the way I didn’t tell this part on the case but it came out in litigation in the depositions, and they just took the property, from what I can understand, that was mine and kept the money and they claimed that that money was kept by them to pay fees that I owed them yet they have never billed me anything that I didn’t pay. There were some ongoing fees that I paid along the way. Did you pay some additional fees and get some additional invoices along the way? I know you told me about that earlier. Tell the listeners what that’s about.
Bill: Yes, I have received numerous bills, invoices from PIP, indicating that I owed administrative fees. As a matter of fact I have one sitting here now; it’s over $2,000 but they are claiming that I owe administrative fees and I can’t see why I should have to pay any administrative fees if I’m not getting any returns on the investment.
Jason: What are these administrative fees for? I mean, what are they claiming that’s for? Why do you owe them that money?
Bill: There’s numerous administrative indications which… oh, I don’t have all the information here right now with me.
Jason: That’s all right. That’s okay. Don’t worry about it. Okay, so you talked to someone else at the company. I woman I believe. What was her name and what did she say?
Bill: Lena Cabriani.
Jason: Lena Cabriani.
Jason: Okay. And what was your conversation with her about? And what was the upshot of that?
Bill: Well, it was… my conversation with her basically was that I really was interested in liquidating my account and she had… she was the one who said that well the way to do that would be to go through the foreclosure procedure. That’s what she said.
Jason: Okay. So, so in other words you wanted your money back when you say liquidate the account. That’s what you meant by that, right? You wanted to get your money back?
Jason: She said that they couldn’t give you the money back and this is a question not a statement, they couldn’t give you the money back unless you were willing to start the foreclosure process on the properties. Is that correct or is there something else?
Bill: Well, it was basically that and they were supposed to get back in contact with me about the foreclosure process but I really have not heard from them, you know, about that particular process.
Jason: How much time has gone by?
Bill: Well, I really started speaking with her about this last year.
Jason: Um huh, oh, since last year? So a year has gone by and they haven’t told you anything about it? Wow.
Bill: Correct, yes. And I’ve called at least 2-3 time about it.
Jason: And who did you talk to? What happened when you called?
Bill: Mostly when I called I speak with the same person who identifies herself as Lena Cabriana.
Jason: Okay. Have you ever spoken with Charles Sells? I know you’ve spoken with Don Fullman but do you get ahold of Charles or anybody? Don has left the company, I’ve heard.
Bill: Yes. No I have not spoken with Charles Sells yet. I have not spoken with him.
Jason: Okay. All right. Do you feel they’re ignoring you? I mean, you said it’s been a year and there’s been no action. You’ve asked to liquidate and they haven’t told you about the foreclosure process and I don’t know. Do you feel like they’re ignoring you? That’s how I felt with my investment. I know that.
Bill: I do feel that this is a strategy that they use to wear me down, to in some way… well, I think that you eluded to… taking the properties and doing what they want to do with the properties so this may be what their strategy is. I just don’t know, but you know, I’m, I’m very much disappointed with what I have witnessed thus far in my interaction with them.
Jason: Yeah, okay. That’s not good. Well, what would help solve the problem for you now at this point? I mean, what are you asking for?
Bill: Well, I mean, as I said, I am still showing a $72,000 and a few dollars that is still supposed to be holding tax liens.
Bill: And so for that amount of money at a minimum that would be what I would expect to get as a return.
Jason: Right, right. Well, that’s just the return of your principal that’s not a return…
Bill: That’s the return on the principal, yeah. Right.
Jason: That’s not a return on investment. That’s just getting your principal back. Right?
Bill: Right. And then, too, and we’re talking about any interest paid. I mean, that amounts to quite a bit of money by my calculations that equals to, even greater than my original investment.
Jason: Yeah. Wow. Okay, well thank you for sharing your story. I mean, is there anything else you’d like people to know about this or like to ask of PIP and Charles Sells? Anything you’d like to ask them to do? You know, anything else we haven’t talked about?
Bill: Well, I do not believe that this company is really focused in on doing what they said that they will do and that is by giving a minimum, as a matter of fact they said an average of 17 percent, I think it is. That was the term that they used or the percentage that they used. On investments for a year, I just don’t believe that. I believe that they deliberately take money and they do, they do obviously do invest, but what happens to it after that I do not know and so therein is questions that I have as to what I should do. I’m pretty much at a loss at this point of what I should do to gain access to my, to the rest of my investment.
Jason: Yeah. Right, right. And just to tell the listeners and clarify this a little bit, where were the tax liens you bought? Were they all in the state of Illinois or were they in multiple states? You know, you can even say which counties, I know you may not know. There’s a lot of different counties but just share geographically like how that works. Where your investments are.
Bill: All of the tax lien properties were in the state of Illinois. In Kankakee County, Brown County and St. Claire County.
Jason: Okay. All right. Well, thank you for sharing this story. I hope it helps. I hope that you can recover your investment and hopefully return on your investment as well and I appreciate you reaching out and sharing this story. You know, a couple other victims have come forward as well and we just gotta make sure that we continue our consumer advocacy and get the word out about things and again PIP, Charles Sells, you’re welcome to come on the show and tell your side of the story. We’d be happy to hear it. Bill, thanks again for joining us.
Bill: Okay and thank you, sir, for calling.