Benji Smith, CEO of Smith and Ken is the kind of Real Estate Scams in Dubai and Los Angeles!
BEWARE of Ben Smith from Smith and Ken Real Estate Brokerage
in Los Angeles, California!
This man is a criminal from UK and is on the run after
scamming hundreds of property investors in Dubai. The scam was short lived but
he has since fled to the US and recently established a US Real Estate brokerage
company in Los Angeles and claims to specialize in luxury homes.
Company CEO Ben Smith has fled Dubai when the authorities
caught onto his Dubai Real Estate scam and he will be arrested if he ever ends
up back in the UAE. He uses several UK criminals by the name of Susanne Adam,
Jeremy Bentley, David Kodama, Scott Mitchell, Rebecca Cooper and several other
UK expats to continue to run their scam, right here in The UAE and operate
under the name Smith and Ken.
Smith and Ken once operated legally here in Dubai but had
their license revoked last year after a flood of customer complaints and
misrepresentation and mismanagement of funds.
As a new resident of Dubai, my wife and I agreed to hire
Smith and Ken as our agents to protect our investment by assisting with our
first UAE property purchase in September of 2013. We agreed to buy the property
from Smith and Ken sales agent David Kodama at the listed price, but had no
idea that the seller listed on the MOU was not even the real seller. The
property had been repossessed by the bank during the 2008 crisis.
After checking this information with the Dubai Lands
Department, Susanne Adam (Smith) was confronted but she claimed that my MOU
details were a simple mistake on their part and claim they did not realize the
property had been repossessed. This process dragged out for a painful 12 months
of excuses by Susanne and her team.
Once it was determined that Smith and Ken was not able to close
the deal, I asked them to return my 10% deposit, but they refused to
communicate with me again offering no reason not to pay. After several weeks of
unanswered emails and phone calls, I reported the incident to Mr. Abdulla,
Senior Investigator from The Real Estate Regulatory Agency, and he ordered
Susanne Adam and Rebecca Cooper to attend a meeting in person which they agreed
to do. They showed up the same day and it was determined that Smith and Ken
should NOT be using the name Smith and Ken to conduct business in the UAE. It
was also determined that brokers are not allowed to ask for 10% deposits in the
name of the company here in The UAE. The deposit cheque should be written in
the name of the seller. The 10% deposit should NOT be cashed until the day of
the transfer. In my case, the funds were cashed without consent and sat in the
broker's account for the entire year and the funds have still not been
returned! I have since found out, this is something that Smith and Ken is known
for in Dubai and part of the reason why Smith and Ken lost their Real Estate
Upon signing of the MOU in 2013, Smith and Ken agent Jeremy
Bentley from Smith and Ken Home Loans charged me an additional 8,500 AED to get
me a personal loan which he was not able to get, so he gave me the contact
details for a competitor who was able to get me the loan for an additional
service charge. Jeremy ended up cashing my cheque which was supposed to be held
as a security deposit until my loan was received. Jeremy claimed that this was
a mistake on his part and promised to return the deposit, but weeks later,
Susanne Adams (Head of Client Services) stepped in and said the funds would not
be returned as per the request of her company CEO, Ben Smith. The wording of
the MOU is very transparent and clearly said that the deposit would be returned
if the personal was not approved. These details were investigated by the Real
Estate authorities who determined that Smith and Ken had NO right to cash the
deposit. RERA demanded immediate reimbursement of this deposit but still, the
deposit was not returned. These details can be verified with Senior
Investigator Mr. Abdulla Mohammed Al Shehhi at +971 4 203 0156 from the Dubai
Lands Department who is currently investigating this crime.
Susanne told Mr. Abdulla that Smith and Ken will return the
deposits which total about 130,000 AED, but she requested permission to keep
the commission for putting in the effort which was about 24,000 AED. Mr.
Abdulla determined that Smith and Ken was NOT entitled to keeping the
commission since they did not complete the terms of the agreement and was given
48 hours to return the funds to me. Still nothing was returned to me.
Before the payment deadline date two weeks ago, Susanne,
Rebecca and David made several attempts to renegotiate the total reimbursement,
but no evidence was presented to justify keeping any of the funds and RERA did
NOT grant permission to repay an alternative amount. On the last day before the
deadline, Rebecca told Mr. Abdulla that Smith and Ken will not return my
RERA has officially given Susanne and Rebecca until Thursday
of last week to pay the funds or be faced with severe consequences. I was told
that this can include prison time in the UAE since several laws were broken to
scam me out of my 130,000 AED which is equivalent to around $35,000 USD.
If my funds are returned in full, I will update my statement
on this website and admit that Smith and Ken made good on their word, but at
this point, I am doubtful as all indications are suggesting this was a scam and
keeping my deposits were intentional and calculated in advance.
After some lengthy investigative work, I made the discovery
that Ben Smith has opened another Real Estate business in the US in Los Angeles,
and called him on the phone. He was absolutely shocked that I tracked him down.
As a North American expat myself, I was able to tell him with confidence that
public feedback goes a long way in North America and negative customer feedback
should not be underestimated. Since public warnings all over the UAE Complaints
Board and Black List websites have not stopped Ben Smith from scamming the
public, it appears as though he will try his luck at challenging the public
feedback forums in the US.
The fact that this money was outright "stolen" by
the Smith and Ken group means that I will spend whatever time necessary to
ensure that Ben is not able to continue his scam in the US.
Smith and Ken Los Angeles is already making claims that they
specialize in high ticket properties and claim to have a client list that
include several well-known celebrities such as Reese Witherspoon, Sean Combs,
JayZ and Beyonce but this company has no connection to transactions with the
celebrities they mention. All evidence already indicates that Ben Smith has plans
to scam Americans during his stay in Los Angeles. Ben Smith has partnered with
a man named Peter Szumski who also specializes in Real Estate scams.
If you or someone you know has been approached by Smith and
Ken, Ben Smith, Peter Szumski or anyone affiliated with their company, you are
urged to call the police and report the details of your transaction to ensure
that you are not a victim of their scam. Do not let criminals come to North
America and prove that there is room for shady business practices and scams.
Smith & Ken Estate Agents Inc. BRE License No. 01956597.
Tel +1 818 386 8040, Fax +1 818 386 8039 and email email@example.com