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Miami Realtor’s Past Dark Criminal Fraud Exposed

Miami Realtor's Past Dark Criminal Fraud Exposed - man in shadows with finger to mouth to "shhh," commercial real estate in background
Hidden criminal past of a successful Miami real estate agent was a concealed conviction that impacts trust in the property market.
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Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • Stephen Manuel Costa, a Miami real estate agent, concealed a 2015 healthcare fraud conviction while promoting his real estate business.
  • Costa’s scheme involved reselling medications obtained from Medicaid beneficiaries, leading to significant legal penalties.
  • The case has prompted a review of regulatory practices and highlights the need for improved transparency within the real estate industry.
Miami Realtor's Past Dark Criminal Fraud Exposed - wealthy friends partying on yacht sailing in Miami, Florida

Stephen Manuel Costa’s Criminal History Resurfaces Amid Booming Real Estate Career

FLORIDA, Miami — In a city where image often outshines substance, one Miami real estate agent’s carefully curated persona has begun to unravel.

Stephen Manuel Costa, co-owner and co-founder of Scope Realty LLC, has been enjoying significant success in the Miami real estate market, promoting luxurious condo listings in high-demand areas like Miami Beach and North Bay Village.

However, recent investigations have brought his hidden criminal past back into the spotlight, raising questions about transparency and trust in the industry.

Concealed Conviction

Costa, who holds a real estate license, has been operating his firm while concealing a 2015 conviction for his involvement in a healthcare fraud scheme.

According to court records, Costa led a plot to defraud the U.S. health insurance program for the indigent by stealing and reselling medications, including those used to treat AIDS.

The fraudulent activities, which took place in New York City, involved purchasing medications from Medicaid beneficiaries and relabeling them for resale to pharmacies.

Uncovering the Scheme

The scam lasted less than a year, culminating in Costa’s guilty plea to conspiring to commit healthcare fraud.

He served approximately three years in prison and was fined $10,000, with an additional $1.2 million ordered in restitution to the U.S. government.

Despite this, Costa maintained his real estate license, which he had obtained in 2003, continuing to profit from residential and commercial real estate transactions.

Regulatory Oversight

Under Florida law, convicted felons can retain their real estate licenses; however, they are required to report their convictions to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation and the Florida Real Estate Commission.

It appears both entities failed to notice Costa’s criminal record until recently when inquiries by the Miami Herald prompted a review of his licensure.

Ongoing Investigation

Following the Miami Herald’s investigation, state authorities are now scrutinizing Costa’s background and his concealment of the Medicaid fraud conviction.

Costa’s attorney, David A. Howard, indicated that his client is “not likely” to comment on the matter.

Impact on Real Estate Market

Costa’s case highlights a critical issue within the real estate industry—how criminal histories are managed and disclosed.

This incident underscores the importance of rigorous background checks and transparency to maintain consumer trust.

For potential buyers and investors, the revelation serves as a stark reminder to thoroughly vet real estate professionals.

Assessment

The exposure of Stephen Manuel Costa’s criminal past raises significant concerns about regulatory oversight and the integrity of professionals within the real estate industry.

While his success in Miami’s booming market is notable, the undisclosed conviction for defrauding a government health program underscores the necessity for greater transparency and accountability.

As authorities continue to investigate, the case may prompt more stringent regulations to prevent similar occurrences in the future.

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