San Francisco real estate broker W.B. Coyle has become the subject of intense media scrutiny after what alleged victims assert has been a “decade of deception.” The State of California’s Department of Real Estate filed a complaint against Coyle and his business, charging that the broker engaged in numerous fraudulent practices against clients while managing their investments. Local journalists have detailed 20 lawsuits and over 40 victims in the wake of Coyle’s reported swindle, making for a total of $15 million at stake.
Coyle has been head of the North Beach-based Telegraph Hill Properties (THP) for at least seven years, operating the company as a vehicle for investing in high-end San Francisco residential real estate. He would often form joint ventures with clients to purchase properties and then sell them at a return, yet he is accused of making sales, co-mingling funds and awarding himself commissions without client knowledge or approval.
Along with this misappropriation of investor funds, Coyle is said to driven several of these enterprises to bankruptcy, resulting in clients’ money being sucked away by lenders and lawyers. THP also reportedly facilitated the eviction of rent-controlled tenants at multiple locations under the Ellis Act with the aim of speculating on re-sale of the units. The THP entities that went bankrupt were named Dissolution Properties LLC, Turbulence LLC, and Hades LLC, curious designations for a man looking to pass himself off as an honest broker.
While Coyle already has a $1.1 million judgment leveled against him, he would lose his license entirely if state authorities’ investigation is proven accurate. Many of his investors have attempted to pursue every possible avenue of civil and criminal action against the North Beach broker after years of what they would call outright theft. Sam Kiamanesh, a professor of real estate law and investments at DeAnza College in Cupertino, offered this assessment of Coyle’s case:
I have never seen a broker with so many violations over so many investment properties with so many different investors. It seems like a pattern with Mr. Coyle. He is basically at every turn making sure he gets taken care of first. Whether it is getting paid the commissions on a transaction, or taking a position that was adverse to his clients. My take is he (Coyle) is in a lot of hot water. He’s been accused of breaking every rule in the book basically.
WILLIAM BERNARD COYLE
- Companies: Telegraph Hill Properties
- Job: Real Estate Broker
- Alleged Scam: SF Residential Properties
- Amount of Fraud: $15 million
- Number of Victims: 40
- Location: San Francisco, CA
- Complaint: Fraud, Co-Mingling, Secret Commissions
- Agency: CA Dept. of Real Estate