Heather Dubrow is seething mad and getting serious with fans about what it’s like to be the victim of a financial scheme. Last month Terry Dubrow disclosed that the couple had lost almost $2 million dollars after being defrauded by a trusted accountant. In Dubrow terms that’s one less marble-encrusted bathroom in the massive mansion they’re building.
In the latest episode of her podcast, Heather Dubrow’s World, Heather reveals the details of how the scam was perpetrated, shared the identities of those involved and questioned bounty hunger Zeke Unger on how it’s possible to recoup losses after the scammers flee! Fascinating stuff – and I truly hope we’ll see more of it on Real Housewives Of Orange County this season.
First, Heather releases the identity of the main perpetrator, Jennifer Lindsay Bell. Heather and Terry are offering a $25,000 reward for any information as they believe she has fled the country to evade authorities.
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“Our accountant, a prominent attorney and THIS woman scammed US and many others out of MILLIONS OF DOLLARS. SHE has fled,” Heather revealed in an instagram post. “There is a warrant out for her arrest. Terry and I are offering $25,000 for any information leading to the capture and arrest of Jennifer Lindsay Bell. We don’t want this to happen to anyone EVER again.”
On her podcast Heather named names, and filled in the details of how the scam was orchestrated, including explaining how their longtime accountant convinced them to get involved. “We made an investment that was not good,” Heather candidly admits. “We were conned out of almost $2 million dollars.”
Heather lists the major players as:
- Jennifer Lindsay Bell: “Formerly of Bellwether Lifestyle, now – we think – called 3 Arch Ventures Limited in London.”
- Their accountant for more than 20-years, Gary Hoffman, of Hoffman and Nardonne Accounting.
- Steve Czick, an attorney from New York.
As for how they got into this mess. “I think Terry and I are relatively smart people… we f–ked up,” concedes Heather. “We didn’t do this appropriately. This is an incredibly expensive lesson.”
The trouble started when the Dubrow’s sold their original Orange County home for $16.45 million dollars. “When we sold the house there was a lot of cash,” explains Heather. A lot of cash that needed doing with. After meeting with advisors and their bank, the Dubrows allocated almost all of the money to various trusted entities (Savings, stocks, bonds, etc.), and with some of the remaining money Heather and Terry decided to invest. “Our accountant knew that we had all this money sitting around so we were so ripe for the picking.”
Heather and Terry felt comfortable following Gary’s advice due to their longstanding relationship – they initially met him through Terry’s best friend, who also used Gary as his accountant!
“Gary had been our accountant for years and years and years, and a trusted advisor,” explains Heather. “He’s a very religious man, an Orthodox Jewish man, very family oriented. We were at his son’s wedding. Gary Hoffman told us he knew Jennifer Lindsey Bell very well and he was in business with her.”
Gary advised them to “loan” Jennifer “about $1.75 million dollars.” Ostensibly Jennifer would use the Dubrow’s money to rent out properties to people during the 2014 World Cup. Obviously that isn’t what happened.
The plan was Jennifer would rent these apartments, then sublet them to people who would be desperate for a place to stay during the World Cup. According to Jennifer’s predictions people would pay “huge premiums” – far more than what Jennifer paid to secure and rent them. As a result Jennifer would return the Dubrow’s money + profit.
Their accountant Gary promised the Dubrow’s they “could not lose” in the deal and spent several months persuading them to loan Jennifer the money. They were eventually assured by Gary’s avowed “PG” or “signed personal guarantee,” which stipulated if the deal went bad Gary (with the help of a “very reliable” attorney) would personally repay the Dubrow’s money.
Was this attorney the same one used by Jacqueline and Chris Laurita?!
Gary sweetened the pot by promising inclusion in future lucrative investments. “He told us that he had a group of guys who routinely [invested] in these sorts of things and we could be part of this circle.”
After considering all the facts, despite that Heather and Terry had never personally met Jennifer Bell, they believed the investment “seemed reasonable.” Now Heather says she had doubts, but Terry seemed “so confident” and she went along with it.
“Initially Terry gave them $1.5 million dollars,” says Heather. But as the World Cup got closer they asked for $250,000 more to secure the entire block. Jennifer promised to “sweeten” the Dubrow’s deal if they came through with the cash. Heather wasn’t convinced. “I didn’t know about this part until after the fact, but [Terry] agreed and gave them the extra money,” she shares. That brought the Dubrow’s total investment to $1.75 million!
Heather asks us to take a deep a breath as she repeats that number several times. “It’s betrayal on so many levels,” she laments.
The ensuing revelations continue to baffle Heather and Terry, including:
— Contrary to Gary’s claim that he had known Jennifer Bell for years, they had actually met only “weeks before – in a bar.”
— Gary and Jennifer were possibly having “some sort of inappropriate relationship.”
— “He had no money to back up the loan.”
— And most shocking, “As it turns out, Gary is not even a CPA!” Gary is actually only a tax preparer.
“The first payment that Jennifer Bell gave to us… the check bounced,” says Heather. Naturally they followed up with Gary – that’s when the Dubrows learned Gary didn’t have any money!
Heather and Terry then tried everything to get information out of Jennifer. They have saved phone calls and texts filled with excuses and promises, but they never saw any money. “It was just lie after lie after lie,” sighs Heather. “But you sort of want to believe it. She swore on so many things everyone around her must be dropping dead!”
Their next step was to sue Jennifer for the return of their money. The Dubrows vacillating over whether or not they should take their situation to TMZ or various other news outlets in an attempt to threaten Jennifer into coughing up their cash.
Eventually they decided against that route and pursued only the lawsuit. “We always had every intention of making this public to help other people, but what we were worried about is that if we made it public she would flee the country and we’d never get our money back,” explains Heather.
The first step in suing was to subpoena Jennifer. But there was an issue: Heather and Terry had no idea who or where Jennifer actually was (Heather assumes she was using aliases). Eventually through one of their text conversations, even though she had bounced a check and owed them millions, Jennifer had the nerve to ask Terry for an additional $26,000 in exchange for a promising to repay all their money “in full” the following week. Terry decided to use this as bait!
The Dubrows set a trap. Terry asked Jennifer to come to his office to get the money, and they arranged for someone to film – sadly NOT Bravo – the exchange. Jennifer actually showed up! And instead of a check, Terry handed her the subpoena.
“We sue her. She hires a lawyer to settle with us for a payment plan,” recounts Heather. “She ends up stiffing the lawyer and never even made one payment to this payment plan!” Then Jennifer never appeared in court for a scheduled Debtor Judgement Hearing.
Jennifer now has a $2 million dollar bail set and a warrant out for her arrest. Heather and Terry have “some intel” pointing to Jennifer hiding out in London. Next season’s Ladies Of London cast, perhaps?!
Bravo loves scammers! So — I gotta ask: Is this Jennifer woman dating Brooks Ayers yet?
Heather and Terry have also sued Gary, their former accountant. He admitted to not knowing Jennifer Bell, making a faulty personal guarantee, and fraud. “We’re dealing with his insurance company right now and will make some money back there,” adds Heather.
The attorney, Steve Czick is trying to “avoid” the Dubrow’s lawsuit by refusing to answer, even though he was sanctioned by the courts. “He’s an attorney – he has a lot to lose here,” warns Heather.
The most shocking revelation, however, is that the Dubrows have discovered they’re not the only people who were scammed by Jennifer, Gary and Steve. The three were co-conspirators from the start. “So far we have a total of about $8 million dollars that these people scammed. These three got together and scammed all these people.”
Heather and Terry’s motivation for taking their situation public is to protect others. “They’re gonna do it again… If we don’t tell people who they are, and this happens again, that’s our fault. And if the person who this happened to before me had spoken out, maybe it wouldn’t have happened to me.”
The situation has taught Heather and Terry important lessons. They both recognize their faults in how they got taken advantage of.
“Terry failed because he did not find out what the collateral was on this personal guarantee and he didn’t show it to our attorney,” says Heather. Heather blames herself for not conducting due-diligence and double-checking that Terry had done all the leg work. “Our system of checks and balances failed,” she acknowledges.
But the situation has Heather questioning, “How do we protect ourselves? Who do we trust? You feel like, raped…,” says Heather, who predicts it’s more common than we all think to be scammed in this fashion. Heather plans to help all of us by having people in the finance world as guests on her show in the upcoming weeks.
Bounty hunter Zeke Unger also joined the show to weigh in on how to track someone like Jennifer down. “People don’t disappear, they relocate,” he says.
Zeke credits a lack of true detective work in the internet age for scammers being able to get away with it more readily. He also warns that no matter where these people go, they usually use the same patterns (i.e. a leopard doesn’t change its spots). Zeke recommends verifying all information on the missing person so you’re not chasing a red herring. You can hear more of Zeke’s advice by listening to Heather’s podcast.
TELL US – ARE YOU GLAD HEATHER SHARED HER STORY? HAVE YOU HAD AN EXPERIENCE LIKE THIS?
[Photo Credits: FayesVision/WENN.com & Instagram]