Self-professed "Robin Hood" Dominique Grubisa is on a mission to mainstream her Real Estate Rescue strategies, despite the ACCC cracking down on her for allegedly breaching Australian Consumer Law.
IN A RECENT webinar (on 7 January), Dominique Grubisa went on the attack against her critics once again, saying:
If you google me, you will see that those full of fear and ignorance have chosen to deride and ridicule me. Those with vested interests, that is something to lose, are threatening me. And others seek to bad mouth me and vilify me and ruin my reputation.
All of this though is small compared to the bigger picture because I am on a mission. My vision is that one day, be it a decade or more, this will be mainstream. What they have been doing in other common law countries in America or Canada for a very long time will be very normal in Australia.
Grubisa is talking about her "Real Estate Rescue" strategies.
As we reported last September, it was the 2009 book by U.S.-based best-selling author Chip Cummings that Grubisa plagiarised to create the Real Estate Rescue manual for her students. She also appears to have plagiarised it for her 2019 self-published book Real Estate Rescue: Your Guide to Buying and Selling Distressed Properties — a kindle version is available for 99 cents from Amazon.
Grubisa's book doesn't just cover her real estate strategies but also delves into asset protection.
In it she describes how she will explain:
'... how to protect all of your investments by making yourself, your wealth and your legacy bulletproof.'
Later in the book, Grubisa says:
'No asset protection system can spruik itself as being impenetrable.'
So, it's bulletproof but not impenetrable.
If you are confused, Spartan Armor Systems can clear that one up for you:
'Popular tv shows and movies will have many people thinking that body armour is an impenetrable shield that deflects bullets like they’re nothing. However, bulletproof vests can only provide a certain level of protection for the wearer and some even break after being impacted by multiple rounds.'
That's good to know. And it's good to know that Grubisa wouldn't spruik an asset protection system described as impenetrable... except that she has.
In a YouTube video that was online for years (but was taken down on 4 December 2020, the day before a story by Richard Baker came out in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald about Grubisa's asset protection claims), the self-professed property maven described her asset protection as an "impenetrable Vestey Trust system" — an "invisible force field".
Then there was Grubisa's appearance with financial commentator Harry Dent in a 2020 webinar hosted by business event organiser Goko Group.
Speaking about this "vault", Grubisa said:
“No one is getting in there… You build a force field around like, like that vault. That’s the impenetrable Vestey Trust. This is my life’s work…This will protect it all for your lifetime.”
Again, in a webinar in June 2021 referring to the "impenetrable Vestey Trust forcefield for your lifetime", Grubisa went on to say:
“... would it be worth, I don’t have tickets on myself, $35,000 to have an ongoing relationship with me for life. I can tell you my husband Kevin pays a lot more than $35,000 a year to have a relationship with me for life.”
Now we wouldn't dare suggest Grubisa has tickets on herself.
It's not like she procured a music magazine in the Dominican Republic to publish a paid-for guest post about herself which described her in the following way:
'Dominique has a golden heart with an entirely glittering personality. She has a heart that shines with education. A heart that shines with courtesy and love for others… Dominique is beauty with brains.'
Grubisa's "Real Estate Rescue" strategies involve matching up names from court lists of people facing repossession of their homes or those involved in family law proceedings with properties owned by those people. Grubisa's advice in her manual (essentially, ripped straight out of Cumming book) includes 'to train your eye to pick up desperate sellers' and to 'take full advantage of such situations'.
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Grubisa might be unaware that things have moved on somewhat in the USA since Cummings' book was published.
State after state in the USA has moved to introduce legislation to regulate what is generally referred to as "pre-foreclosure" or wholesaling strategies — strategies more prevalent in the U.S. than they are in Australia but which are increasingly under scrutiny by regulators and consumer protection bodies.
For example, in October 2021 Oklahoma introduced the 'Predatory Real Estate Wholesale Prohibition Act'. This legislation requires "real estate wholesalers" to obtain a real estate licence and comply with codes of conduct.
The City of Philadelphia introduced laws requiring people who bought residential property for the purpose of resale to obtain a licence and to make certain disclosures. The state of Illinois has also introduced licensing requirements for wholesalers.
California law requires 'mortgage foreclosure consultants to be registered and provide a bond'. These consultants who perform services to seek to stop or postpone a foreclosure sale or obtain forbearance from a mortgagee are prohibited from acquiring an interest in the owner's foreclosed residence or taking a power of attorney from the owner.
In New York City, distressed property consultants have also been subjected to regulation.
Jerry Norton, a promoter of wholesaling techniques, says in a YouTube clip titled 'Another Law Passed Against Wholesaling Real Estate — The Crackdown Continues':
“I’ve been saying this and I will say it again, regulation is coming and it’s coming fast to the wholesaling industry.”
As we reported in September last year, one of the things that Grubisa has been telling her students for years is that if a bank steps in and repossesses a home, it will keep everything and give no change. Decorated consumer advocate Carolyn Bond AO referred to this on her blog The Naysayer in September 2018. Grubisa's claims in this regard are one of the matters with which the ACCC has taken issue.
Our story also referred to an example where Grubisa's claims were repeated by "mentors" who train Grubisa's "students" in her strategies.
One issue that Grubisa might find problematic in her mission to make her strategies mainstream, is that the use of personal information (licensed by state government agencies as part of property data provided to "value-added resellers") for direct marketing is expressly prohibited under the terms of the contracts upon which that data is made available.
Grubisa has no regard for this when she promotes her strategies, even after numerous companies severed ties with her business and investigations are now being undertaken in numerous states.
We don't want to burst her bubble, but we doubt Grubisa's strategies of targeting people from court listings will become mainstream in Australia. What we suspect, or at least hope, is that the light shone on her activities will lead to action to further protect the personal information of vulnerable people.
Grubisa likes to consider herself a Robin Hood-type figure.
In fact, in a YouTube clip that was taken down in December 2020, she described herself in this way:
"So, I became the go-to guru when it came to helping people in debt. I was featured heavily in the press. I was like a Robin Hood, basically helping people fight back."
Exactly which people has she helped fight back? Is it the thousands to whom she has flogged her asset protection nonsense? Or is it people whom the ACCC alleges risk facing significant financial harm if they rely upon her advice?
Perhaps it is people who discovered her business had made up fictitious loan amounts in their names such as Barry and Rachel who featured on the 'A Current Affair' segment in May 2021.
Was it someone named in Richard Baker's story in November 2020?
Was it Jose West who told 'A Current Affair' in 2021 that the "false sense of security" in relation to Grubisa's asset protection product stopped her from seeking further advice?
As West said:
"The correct legal advice may have saved the business — might have saved my home."
Perhaps Grubisa's supposed altruistic activities were for those she described as:
“...wannabe pretenders and oxygen thieves sucking the life out of us while ‘playing’ property entrepreneur.”
Whomever Grubisa is doing this for, it is clear from a section in her 'Real Estate Rescue Manual', which also features in her book (a rare part of her manual not plagiarised from Chip Cummings book), that these strategies are not about "helping people fight back", but to make money from the misfortune of others.
After telling the reader that her first entrée into distressed property purchasing was a mistake (words also used by Cummings in his book), Grubisa goes on to express her motives with the next deal.
When I went to buy my next property, of course, I wanted to find the same thing again, a distressed vendor with the bank breathing down their neck but to my dismay, no-one ever advertised this sort of deal and the few “deceased estate” “divorce” or “mortgagee” sales I found advertised were already out there and every Tom, Dick and Harry was buzzing around them in a lather pushing the price up beyond my reach.
How terrible that these people received competitive prices for their repossessed homes after going through a relationship breakdown or the death of a loved one; so shocking, Grubisa having to compete to take advantage of their distress!
Grubisa is also the person who told her students in an email last year that American real estate billionaire Sam Zell attributes his property fortune to "dancing on the skeletons of other people's mistakes…".
She went on to say:
"You could look for similarities between what Zell faced and leveraged then and what you could achieve in this market."
Quite the Robin Hood figure is Grubisa.
But we certainly won't be holding our breath waiting for Grubisa's mission to become mainstream.
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