Sam Leccima, an Atlanta businessman known for his presence on the reality show “Flip This House,” has been accused of fraud.
According to the Associated Press, A&E, the network that ran the show has pulled all reruns that feature Leccima and have taken all mention of him off of their website, as now authorities and legal filings are claiming that Leccima never sold houses that he claimed to and the renovations and repairs made to homes were fake — just quick patch jobs, often temporary, that looked good on camera.
An Atlanta pharmaceutical representative, Sonya McGee, said that she was caught up in an investment scheme, a scam hosted by Leccima that cost her $4,000. She and others claim that the people on the show who are prospective buyers are actually fakes too; they are really friends and family of Leccima who are posing as buyers for the show. Often “Sold” signs would be put in front of homes that remained unsold. On the show he was depicted as making profits of upwards of $77,000 from renovating and selling homes, reports the Associated Press.
Atlanta real estate records did show that he did not own several of the homes that he featured on television.
WAGA-TV of Atlanta, who first featured the story on Leccima, took a look inside of one of the homes featured on the show and found mismatched floors and patched walls that had not been painted.
Also, Leccima depicted himself as a real estate investor on the show in 2006, when in fact he does not have a real estate license; it was revoked in 2005 by the Georgia Real Estate Commission. The panel had ruled that Leccima “does not bear a good reputation for honesty, trustworthiness, integrity, and competence.” The Georgia Secretary of State’s office is now conducting an investigation on him for securities fraud.
According to Leccima he had never claimed to own the houses. He neither confirmed nor denied that his home renovations on the show were staged. He also suggested that A&E and Departure Films knew precisely what he was doing. In an interview conducted via telephone, Leccima stated, “Ask anybody who works in television how a reality show is made and you’ll find that ours was a very typical approach.”
Leccima said that he has been advised by his attorney to not make statements about the claims but feel they come from being a high-profile person.
“I’m a business person and I think I have as many people that like me as don’t like me,” he said. “Anyone who puts their face on national television should realize they’ve signed a Faustian deal of sorts.”