Ex-HGTV star and Los Gatos house flipper sentenced in real estate fraud case

Charles "Todd" Hill was known as "Mr. Flip It" on HGTV's show "Flip It to Win It."

Lauren Martinez Image
Tuesday, April 16, 2024
Ex-HGTV star from South Bay sentenced in real estate fraud case
Charles "Todd" Hill, former HGTV star and house flipper from Los Gatos Charles, has been sentenced to four years for real estate and financial fraud.

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- A former HGTV star and house flipper from Los Gatos has been sentenced to four years in Santa Clara County Jail.

On Tuesday, Charles "Todd" Hill, star of the show "Flip It to Win It," was ordered to pay close to $10 million for real estate and financial fraud.

Prosecutor Oanh Tran said Hill's scams including a Ponzi scheme impacted 18 homes in the Silicon Valley.

"I think this is a major real estate fraud case - there are 11 victims here who are still dealing with the fallout," Tran said.

The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office says this case started almost 10 years ago.

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Hill was indicted in 2019 and convicted last year.

"He took money from an investor who he started a company with, laundered the financial accounts which he had complete control over," Tran said.

Tran said Hill falsified balance sheets and fraudulently obtained loans.

"The point was to purchase a home and remodel them and sell them for a profit, but he would take the money that was given to remodel the home and spend it on luxury cars, vacations, partying as he has stated. And in order to account for that, he would label it as construction costs," Tran said.

Victims were left with either unfinished homes or barely finished homes to finish themselves.

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"Businesses were shut down, one victim lost his home, so the consequences of his fraud are far reaching that cover various aspects of life that these victims are still dealing with," Tran said.

Ten years ago, Beau Eckstein was on the show "Flip it To Win It" with Hill, and had a positive experience with him.

Overall, Eckstein said the house flipping show was more for viewers and not the most realistic glimpse into the business.

"I think the TV channels always show, like everybody's making 150K profit - have you ever stopped and said well, there's no interest there's no real estate commissions involved - like what you're forecasting is not actually reality," Eckstein said.

Eckstein has over 20 years of experience in residential and commercial financing.

"I've made lots of loans and when people tell you their rehab budget is $100K, you can always count on it going to be 25% more, at least. When someone says they're going to rehab a house in six months, it's going to take a year," Eckstein said.

As a lender, he said know your numbers.

"You want to know what security interests you are in with the deal - you're lending as debt and you also probably want to have a broker and an attorney review the legal documents," Eckstein said.

Tran also recommends if you are entering into a monetary transaction with a lien as collateral, run the title insurance report.

"Now that Santa Clara County's website portal is open to the public, I would also run a search for the person's name to see if there are any civil judgements against that person," Tran said.

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