A Virginia Real Estate Board report shows the man has a history of funneling money overseas.
NORFOLK, Va. – The Virginia Real Estate Board revoked Alex Nova’s real estate license in May. Since then, homeowners and realtors who worked with him say he disappeared with hundreds of thousands of dollars of their money.
According to an investigation by the Virginia Real Estate Board, on September 9, 2020, the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation received a written complaint from a former seller of Remax Central Realty, Nova’s real estate management company.
The complaint alleged that Central Realty’s August 2020 rental income was deposited into property owners’ bank accounts but was later reversed and withdrawn from the accounts. It also said that Central Realty said the reason for the reversal was that its bank accounts were compromised.
Shortly after, similar complaints were also filed by another former seller and several property owners, the report said.
Subsequent investigation found that “customers of property owners were paid monthly owner proceeds by Central Realty on August 11, 2020.” However, according to the report, those payments were reversed around August 20, 2020.
After the funds were withdrawn from their accounts, customers turned to Nova for an explanation. According to the report, Nova’s office responded with several conflicting statements at the time. One of the reasons for the chargeback was that the company’s bank account had been compromised, according to the report.
“The situation was due to fraud, not an accounting error or a financial problem: problems with the bank account were resolved,” the report said.
On March 31, 2021, at the request of VREB, Nova sent investigators a list of properties his company managed, along with leases and property management agreements, the report said.
After examining those documents, the report said, investigators found that Remax Central Realty’s fiduciary liability (amount of money they must hold in their account to be paid back to customers for things like security deposits) was over $379,000.
According to the report, as of May 10, 2021, there was $8,059.47 in Remax Central’s PM escrow account 3614, leaving an approximate escrow deficit (or lack of funds that they should be willing to pay back to customers) of over $371,000.
The next day, in an interview with investigators, Nova said the payment cancellation issues stemmed from issues with its software provider, bank accounts, and a third-party payment processor, the report said.
Nova also said the PM escrow account held 3,614 property management deposits for the company and that only he and his office manager had access to the account, according to the report.
When investigators told Nova the account had insufficient funds to cover his company’s fiduciary liability, the report said he told them about a new account he set up through a lawyer.
The report said Nova told investigators the new account was with East West Credit Union in Toronto, Canada and that he didn’t have the account number and was locked out of the account for a week.
According to the report, the EWCU account was funded with funds from Remax Central’s Towne Bank accounts. According to the report, the money went from her escrow account to her operating account and then straight to the EWCU escrow account.
Nova said there was $489,000 in the account at the time. He also said he set up an operating account with the EWCU, which the report said contained $141,000 at the time the other EWCU account was set up.
Nova told investigators that he used eastwestcu.com to access his company’s EWCU account, the report said. This website is not an active web address.
According to the report, when investigators examined Central Realty’s bank statements from May 15, 2020 to August 17, 2020 (just prior to the payment cancellations), they found that over $800,000 was tangled between the escrow, commission and operating accounts of Central Realty had been transferred to their operating account; $300,000 of that came from her escrow account, the report showed.
During the same period, over $789,000 was remitted from the company’s operating account to three foreign companies in China, the report said.
“Nova’s actions in accepting at least $354,000 in trust funds of $354,000 and transferring them to the Company’s operating account, which resulted in those funds being electronically transferred to foreign entities, constitute improper, fraudulent or dishonest conduct “, says the report.
Nova has reportedly repaid some of the money in question since the investigation. However, the report clarified that at least some of the returned bails were related to property management situations that were not originally included when Nova sent documents to investigators for review.
The report also found that Nova did not include the security deposits of several properties that came into the possession of Central Realty and were owned by others.
The only known penalties Nova is currently facing are fines, but Virginia court documents online show that since June 1, multiple civil lawsuits have been filed against Nova in the Virginia Beach General District Court.
The report showed four fines totaling $5,100 for violating four different rules. The report explains that the rules Nova violated relate to fraudulent activity, mismanagement of trust funds and parameters for agents providing information to the VREB.
The Norfolk FBI would neither confirm nor deny if there is an active case involving Nova.
In an interview with 13News Now, Courtney Zawisa said she used to work with Nova and that he has disappeared with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bail since his license was revoked in May. Some of that money is owed to 34 of her tenants, she said.
Zawisa also said Nova owed her a $38,000 commission.
Latanya Morgan lives in New Jersey, but she explained in an email to 13News Now that her family owns a home in Portsmouth. She said Remax Central Realty managed the property, which currently has tenants.
Morgan said she received no rent payments from Central Realty for the months of May and June 2022.
Apparently Morgan is not alone. The company’s Facebook page had mostly good reviews, but one post with over 66 comments is full of angry customers writing that they have the same issue as Morgan and can’t get in touch with Nova.
The popular post was posted by Markeith Scott Sr., who lives in Florida but had a property in Chesapeake managed by Nova.
In an interview with 13News Now, Scott said things started well with Nova, but after a year or two of working together, Nova became difficult to contact.
Scott, a Navy E-6 operations specialist, said he was so busy he didn’t have time to fire Nova and hire someone else. Scott emailed Nova, but he said he rarely got replies.
Scott claimed that poor communication went hand in hand with late payments for a number of years until 2020, when rental payments were no longer fully routed to Scott.
From March 2020 to July 2021, Scott said he did not receive periodic rent payments from Nova, although a lease was signed on his property for that period.
Scott said he finally got some money in the form of bail to get his home repaired after saying Nova told him it had been inspected and was vacant as of June 2021.
Scott was thinking of selling his home and had a realtor come over later that month to look at it. The realtor let Scott know that someone definitely lived there, and Scott had to have the police eject the person.
Now, Scott said Nova owed him over $25,000 in rent payments and damage to his property while it was being managed by Remax Central Realty.
Nova could not be reached for comment prior to the publication of this article.