Mortgage fraud in Cities on FBI radar

Mortgage fraud in Cities on FBI radar

There are 1273 comments on the Star Tribune story from Jul 21, 2007, titled Mortgage fraud in Cities on FBI radar. In it, Star Tribune reports that:

“We've seen properties we think are problematic and they turn up TJ Waconia”

Federal investigators are probing a renewed rash of potential mortgage fraud in the Twin Cities area in response to reports of a large number of unusual real estate transactions in north Minneapolis and ... via Star Tribune

Join the discussion below, or Read more at Star Tribune.

Andy

Minneapolis, MN

#22 Dec 27, 2007
I hope the law comes down hard on them and you get your money back. I don't know why they would do this to anyone. Greed, I guess but they seemed well off before they got deep into this business.
Victim

Houston, TX

#23 Dec 30, 2007
Sorry for the late reply. We did check out his company and he deceived us. He was also considered a good friend and we trusted him.

That is how these scams work. Unfortunately we fell into the trap. We are not only saddened for our own situation, but also feel extremely bad for all the families and communities Jon Helgason and Tom Balko have harmed.

We are just glad that we were able to assist the FBI in stopping them from harming anyone else.

Here is hoping that the New Year brings peace in this situation to all!
1st Victim

Minneapolis, MN

#24 Jan 2, 2008
Would anyone on here who knows when a trial date or anything of the sort, please post it. I too want to be at the trial and sentencing. I may have been their first victim. Reading the comments here, it looks like their MO changed very little over the years.

Amy, Jon, Tom and Jill all knew what they were doing and benefited from it. Do you think they ever thought of their kids at any point? It is likely they may never see them graduate high school. How sad and selfish of them.

I do not want to see these two get away. They are horrible, horrible people.
JJJ

Minneapolis, MN

#25 Jan 2, 2008
Check out this web site. It has the court dates: http://pa.courts.state.mn.us/default.aspx
Victim

Houston, TX

#26 Jan 3, 2008
All Victims,

I wish there was some way we could send out notice to anyone that was scammed by these two and keep everyone informed. Any ideas??

We just learned in our civil case that Jon and Tom have filed for a protective order and a stay from all civil cases until the criminal investigation is over. We are going to court at the end of the month to fight this order and hopefully the judge will let us continue. Jon Helgason has now hired a 3rd civil attorney ( I wonder why the others keep leaving??) and also hired criminal defense attorney Meshbesher. Where to you suppose these two are getting all the money to pay these expensive attorneys?? Balko obviously stole his from little children at his dance studio.

I will try to keep all informed as this continues...just let me know if there is a way to start a website/better format to get the word out to other victims.

Maybe we can organize a protest at their homes?? Our attorney said we can protest, we just have to be on public property.

Since: Jan 08

Minneapolis, MN

#27 Jan 3, 2008
How has Tom Balko and Jill Balko not been arrested for there Dance Studio Scam? Can someone, somewhere explain that one?

It sounds like Jon and Tom have seperate lawyers? Interesting, wonder if they will turn on each other. I imagine the fingers are going to start pointing soon.

A website needs to be set up that can inform all victims of what we know is going on. For all that they took from us, the very least, we are owed this information.

How do we get it started?
Brian from Rogers

Rogers, MN

#30 Jan 6, 2008
1st Victim wrote:
How has Tom Balko and Jill Balko not been arrested for there Dance Studio Scam? Can someone, somewhere explain that one?
It sounds like Jon and Tom have seperate lawyers? Interesting, wonder if they will turn on each other. I imagine the fingers are going to start pointing soon.
A website needs to be set up that can inform all victims of what we know is going on. For all that they took from us, the very least, we are owed this information.
How do we get it started?
My wife worked for the dance studio and was fired 4 days before he locked the doors. It is our belief that she had simply started to ask too many questions. The money was a problem for quite some time. First there were questions about an FBI investigation which Tom denied, then the building was found to be in foreclosure, then there was information about thousands of dollers of back taxes owed. Tom had an excuse for everything. Finally, payroll simply did not go through. My wife was given a different story from Tom than the payroll company who dealt with payroll. After she told Tom she on longer knew what to think, he fired her, telling her they needed a director who trusted and had faith in them.
Three days later, Tom sat at the front desk and collected tuitions from the clientele, and when asked, reassured everyone that the studio was fine and they would receive all they had paid for. He locked the doors 2 days later on the staff and the clientele. He never paid the staff for the last 2 weeks leading up to locking the doors, and has not responded to anyone's attempts to recover their lost wages. By our estimate, he had collected at least $90,000 in pre-paid tuition and costume fees.
Originally, he and Jon, purchased the studio from my mother-in-law, in what could only be described as a hostile take-over. In the end, in spite of a personal guarentee, they failed to pay her what was promised, and have left her with no income and very few options. She is in her 60's, living on social security, and her life's work has been stripped away from her. Just another example of the way these people continue to steal from people.
We were invited to partake in this "business opportunity", but we felt it sounded too good to be true. Unfortuately, some of our clients were convinced that this was fair and legitimate, and now find themselves with 9 homes in bankruptcy, and their savings depleted as they try to make right what these people have done wrong.
Everyone talks about what good friends these people were. We thought so too. We had them to our house for dinner, my wife and Jill went on business trips together. When Tom discovered his wife was cheating on him, he cried on my wifes shoulder. When he fired her, his comment was I'm losing a friend today. This man and his wife do not know the meaning of the word friend. They are lothesome scum. They are criminals who deserve to experience the fullest extent of the law. I am trying to post links to 2 of the stories in the Star Trib and 1 from WCCO regarding them.

http://wcco.com/seenon/dance.studio.maple.2.5...

http://www.startribune.com/local/west/1268836...

Since: Jan 08

Minneapolis, MN

#31 Jan 6, 2008
Great comments above. Is that why Jill purchased a home in Maple Grove in July (living there now) and the home in Rogers appears to be lived in?(most likely by Tom)

I too, at one time asked too many questions and thankfully was ousted. I am sorry to hear about the dance studio and all that took place. That is so unfair. Are the Maple Grove cops going to do anything? Attorney General? Anybody? That is out and out larceny, isn't it?

Jill Balko must be held responsible along with Tom. She has a nice grand piano sitting in her front window. It just sickens me to see they still try to maintain this false lifestyle they never earned.
Brian from Rogers

Rogers, MN

#33 Jan 7, 2008
Yes, she and Tom are getting/are divorced. Tom is living in the home in Rogers and Jill and the kids in Maple Grove with her lover, Don, and his child. The speculation is that the house in Rogers has too many mortgages against it to sell, but that is not known as fact, just speculation.
And yes, being ousted was a thankful event in the end.
CisforCookie

Irving, TX

#35 Jan 8, 2008
My girlfriend is one of the parents whose daughter took lessons at Dancers Edge but does not attend the new studio.
One of the instructors told my girlfriend in early November that "a lot of us are going to be leaving here soon. A few others here are about ready to open another studio." When she asked how she knew? The instructor told her that she had been approached to "come with us."
The instructor asked that she (my g/f) not say anything.
Sounds sort of shady to me.
Brian from Rogers

Stillwater, MN

#36 Jan 8, 2008
Prior to my wife being released on November 7th, there was no talk about a new studio. The staff was trying really hard to address all the rumers that were flying regarding Tom and the divorce, FBI investigation, back taxes, and foreclosure. The day Tom released my wife, he had told her they were meeting to discuss how the staff could address the parents after 31/2 months of Tom trying to ignore the issue.

Tom, with all his class, fired Shannon with clientele present and would give her no reason for her being released. He then met with the teachers and fully expected them to just pull together and cover everything Shannon did, even though he was too short-sided to have considered how to cover her classes for the rest of the day. By this point, the teachers knew things were not right and were clear with Tom that they wanted Shannon to stay as director, that they did not trust him, and did not believe his lies.

On Sunday, November 10th, Shannon held a meeting of interest to see if there would be support in the future if she were to open a studio of her own or perhaps purchase DE. The teachers were aware and in attendance, but there was no time-line or plan for a studio at that point. All teachers, with the exception of Shannon, would continue to teach classes at DE. The next day the teachers went in to work on choreography and they found the doors locked and the locks changed.

At this point, Shannon, Mary and Steve banded together and reached out to some very knowlegeable and resourseful people in our community who helped them secure space and get a studio up and running in a week. During this week, parents of DE stood outside the locked doors, in the coldest week of the year, and collected emails and phone numbers of families who brought their children to class, only to find the doors locked.

They made every effort to negotiate with Tom to rent the space or purchase DE outright, but with the negative reputation it had gained with many of it's vendors, it really was better long-term to start over. In the end, most of their former vendors have reached out to them in spite of how much money they are still owed by Tom.

The support in the community has been overwhelming. People from other studios, parents and vendors are continually asking "how can we help?" Dads even volunteered to lay flooring over the Thanksgiving holiday. This studio was started simply to provide these kids who lost so much an opportunity to stay together with the teachers who knew and loved them. It only exists because the parents trust that these teachers have their best interests at heart. Without the support of so many, none of this could have happened. And through it all, the number one driving force for the staff has been to do it all with integrity. The lies and rumors they spent the previous months with are nothing they ever intend to experience again.

I would say that for Tom, this was simply another business venture. He didn't care or know about the business or the people.
But for my wife and these teachers it is their passion, and that makes all the difference.
Whatever

Saint Cloud, MN

#37 Jan 8, 2008
Funny - I heard the exact same thing as you, CisforCookie. The instructors WERE planning on leaving. My good friends daughter danced there also, and she was approached also, maybe Brian was not aware of what they were planning.

Since: Jan 08

Minneapolis, MN

#38 Jan 8, 2008
You know guys, whether they were planning or not to leave, how does that justify collecting money than closing down and locking the doors?

Where is the money?

And was it wrong for the instructors to bail before the FBI took that business too, or the bank, or the vendors? Please, CisforCookie and Whatever, are you defending the Balko's?

Just curious.

Does that mean the Maple Grove police weren't telling the truth when they said they talked to him and he was going to reopen? Has he reopened? Has he returned any of the money that people want refunded?

Jon and Tom have not changed in years and it has caught up to them. A complaint was filed with the commerce department years ago, and they failed to look into it. For that, many more people have been hurt.

It must stop now, and all who have been taken advantage of must come forward and make sure these people are never allowed to do this again, to anyone.
DISTURBED Northsider

United States

#40 Jan 8, 2008
I am watching Tom now.
Brian from Rogers

Stillwater, MN

#41 Jan 8, 2008
Whatever wrote:
Funny - I heard the exact same thing as you, CisforCookie. The instructors WERE planning on leaving. My good friends daughter danced there also, and she was approached also, maybe Brian was not aware of what they were planning.
Being that my wife was fired and there was never any talk about opening a studio before that makes me a little more in the know when it comes to the timeline of events. What I've posted above is the truth.
Brian from Rogers

Stillwater, MN

#42 Jan 8, 2008
1st Victim wrote:
You know guys, whether they were planning or not to leave, how does that justify collecting money than closing down and locking the doors?
Where is the money?
And was it wrong for the instructors to bail before the FBI took that business too, or the bank, or the vendors? Please, CisforCookie and Whatever, are you defending the Balko's?
Just curious.
Does that mean the Maple Grove police weren't telling the truth when they said they talked to him and he was going to reopen? Has he reopened? Has he returned any of the money that people want refunded?
Jon and Tom have not changed in years and it has caught up to them. A complaint was filed with the commerce department years ago, and they failed to look into it. For that, many more people have been hurt.
It must stop now, and all who have been taken advantage of must come forward and make sure these people are never allowed to do this again, to anyone.
The MG police did speak with Tom, before he sold the studios assets to Dancin' on Broadway. The Kmart of dance studios, imo.
Tom has all the money still. MG police have opened a case against him for fruad, so if anyone reading this is still waiting for money from Tom you need call them.
Brian from Rogers

Stillwater, MN

#43 Jan 8, 2008
DISTURBED Northsider wrote:
I am watching Tom now.

Physically or in a metaphorical sense?
Dance mom

Plymouth, MN

#44 Jan 8, 2008
My child attended Dancers Edge and we are out over $1000. To these people:
"Whatever wrote:
Funny - I heard the exact same thing as you, CisforCookie. The instructors WERE planning on leaving. My good friends daughter danced there also, and she was approached also, maybe Brian was not aware of what they were planning."

As parents worried about the financial situation of Tom Balko and the studio when we asked questions we were assured by the teachers that "everyone would stick together". We didn't even know we were leaving the week the doors were locked on us. Tom lied to our faces. I feel so bad for his 3 kids they have a Crook for a dad, slut for a mom.

Thank you Brian, for posting your info. Shannon and the staff done an amazing job at making this a smooth transition for our kids. The teachers are the heart of the studio. The building means nothing.
Brian from Rogers

Stillwater, MN

#45 Jan 9, 2008
Dance Mom,
The teachers and staff thank you for your support. Without the support of parents like you they would never would have been able to pull this off.

I'm sorry to hear about your loss in money. Tom still owes us over $3000, and we are still dealing with a credit card he listed Shannon on as a cosigner. PLEASE make sure you contact the MG police they need as many parents to come forward as they can get.

Lets not forget that Tom and Jill were only co-owners here. Jon and Amy Helgason are just a responsible.

We feel sorry for Tom's children too. People that have kids that go to school with them have told us this is really hard on them. It breaks my heart to hear stories like that, after all those kids didn't do anything wrong just the parents. The really sad part is their fathers reputation will follow them around for life, everytime they apply for a loan or a job or even a credit card there dad's record will pop up when he's convicted.
Victim

Houston, TX

#46 Jan 9, 2008
What I would like to know is....is anyone watching Helgason? He is the truly calculating one.

I do hope they get indicted, but once they do we can no longer go forward with our civil case. So I hope we get them first!

Does anyone else have a pending civil case??

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