If you’ve watched the A&E Hit Show “Flip This House”, you’re most likely familiar with the cool, suave Sam Leccima of Atlanta, Georgia. The reality series depicts Mr. Leccima as a real estate investor that can do no wrong. Every deal he touches appears to turn to gold, and his properties are sold at the first open house. Better yet, they often sell above his asking price.
In fact, this reality couldn’t be further from the truth. After receiving numerous complaints from real estate investors in the Atlanta area, Dale Russel of Fox 5 News began researching Sam Leccima’s investment practices and his findings are shocking. In addition to losing his real estate sales license for “not bearing a good reputation of honesty, trustworthiness and integrity”, Leccima was faking home renovations and claimed to have sold properties that he never owned (or even had under contract).
Here’s a copy of Sam Leccima’s real estate license revocation.
When asked about the suspected scam, Sam Leccima responded with,
“Hey, it’s a TV show.”
He then deflected the blame to A&E producers, claiming that everyone at “Flip This House” was aware of what was happening. He contended that he was only guilty of creating interesting television, only to be used as a scapegoat once the story was exposed to the public.
I agree that TV programs are designed to entertain, and one would have to be extremely naive to believe that reality TV shows are actually based on reality. After all, the reality of real estate can appear to be a bit mundane for television. I would also agree that A&E was most likely aware that he was not buying and selling houses at the rate he was claiming.
But this is not the issue that I find to be so troublesome. You’ll see in the videos below that “Scam Leccima” was actually defrauding investors. The first video features his realtor explaining how he had out-of-state investors put up the funds for rehab deals and then never completed the work. Using clout from the hit TV show, “Flip This House”, he marketed heavily to cash investors with a focus on trust that they would make a quick profit. And trust, they did. After all, he was on a television program selling properties left and right. In the end, he left his cash investors with major losses when none of the properties actually sold in reality. This was despite the elaborate closing parties seen at the end of each episode.
In the second video below, Dale Russel digs deeper into the Sam Leccima story. This video shows interviews with the investors who lost money from this fraud. He is also able to corner Sam Leccima and attempts to ask him about the fraud allegations.
To make matters worse, it looks like he and his wife have not exited the real estate market and are working to expand their empire through a relatively new venture. With the help of some extremely low quality video and audio recording equipment, it appears that the Leccimas have attempted to produce their own reality show. Combine numerous unnecessary quick cuts with some of the worst narration one can find on the internet, and you have – Married Millions. This is a video series (see video below) that highlights successful married entrepreneurs, and has even spun off a book entitled “Married Millions”. Far more troubling is the fact that Sam and Shani Leccima identify themselves as “real estate investors and business coaches” on their site.
While I’m sure that Sam and his wife have the lofty goal of eventually selling this series to a cable network like A&E, I think it’s safe to say that this “Reality Show” isn’t going much further than Youtube. One can only hope that the featured business owners did not pay to be a part of this video series.
– UPDATE –
It appears the Sam Leccima and his wife have also started a hair product business called, “My Cool Hair“. Check out the video below from August 11,2012 to see Shani Leccima (the wife) rant about her hair for about 10 minutes. What is really interesting is the fact that Leccima no longer refers to himself as “Sam Leccima”. Instead, he presents himself as “Samuel P. Leccima“, as can be seen on their about page. This is also the name that he uses for his Facebook Page. I’m assuming it’s an attempt at cutting through all of the negative press when his name is googled.