March 3, 2008

Poster Child

From Wikipedia:

Casey Konstantin Serin (born September 10, 1982 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan) is a former real estate speculator and blogger. In a newspaper article, USA Today called him the "poster child for everything that went wrong in the real estate boom".[1] Serin immigrated to America in 1994. In his early twenties, Serin worked as a web developer, but then decided to quit this job to pursue his dream of becoming financially independent through real estate investments. Beginning in October 2005 and continuing through the following year, Serin purchased eight houses in four southwest U.S. states, and then began blogging about the foreclosure[2] process on the properties he was unable to resell. In time, six of the eight properties foreclosed.[3]

He flew to Australia in June of 2007 for several weeks, leaving his wife with little or no financial support[4]

As for his real estate investments, Serin acknowledged to the Sydney Morning Herald that "the stuff I did is technically mortgage fraud, but it's not officially called that until someone prosecutes me and proves that that is indeed mortgage fraud," [5] asserting a presumption of innocence. On the Jon Ronson show, Serin confirmed his use of so-called "liar loans".[6]

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer


Anonymous said...

If you want more of the Casey Saga go to:

The podcasts, the sooper sekrit bizness meetings, the Koi, the VDubs, the Jamba Juice, the semi-vegan diets. It's all there.

I've never gotten as sucked into someone's personal life like I did with his. It was fun, but I'm glad f*cktard is more or less of the Internets. It just ate up too much time.

William said...

I suspect that guys like Serin feel a little bit more enabled to bend or break the law because they're "citizens of the world."

If I break the law as an American I'm stuck with facing the music. If Serin breaks the law he can always go back to Uzbekistan (not that he'd want to) or to any of a dozen Western countries where he probably has friends or relatives. Non-citizen residents used to have fewer rights than you. Now they have more.

ben tillman said...

A classic example of the virulence engendered by horizontal transmission.

Steve Sailer said...

Here in Southern California at ground zero of the mortgage meltdown, I have a suspicion that immigrants from the ex-Soviet Union and/or Middle East (that nameless group that has become so numerous in SoCal) are particularly leveraged up. Has anybody seen any evidence on this, pro or con?

Anonymous said...


Going by anecdotal evidence it looks like most of the "big time" fraudsters like Serin are Hispanic and White. Hispanics seem to do most of the predatory broker lending like a 700K house to a 15K/year farmworker. Whites seem to be the ones who become realtors and end up with a half dozen houses hanging around their necks through appraisal or lender fraud.

Thanks to the FBI and other LE agencies declining to pursue these cases we won't ever really know who did the deeds.

What's interesting is how the stupid and/or lazy these "big time" guys are. Casey was probably the dumbest and laziest of the bunch but most of them seemed to be junior college dropouts, if that. They couldn't run a three card monte table, yet banks lent them six and seven figures.

Anonymous said...

Steve, it's always struck me how apparently wealthy so many Middle Eastern-looking and former-Soviet-Republic type people are around your neck of the woods. Not that they aren't capable of making a lot of money, but that I can't at all tell where it's coming from. Eg, 28-year-old Armenians driving brand new 7-series BMWs and hanging around Starbucks for hours on a Tuesday afternoon. See that sort of thing all the time. Heavy leveraging or something else?

Anonymous said...

Banks and lending institutions deserve to have to eat the worm if they are going to lend money to charlatans like this kid obviously was.

Whatever happened to going out and earning a living by working, and MAKING something tangible. This nation used to be about making ocean going vessels, railroads, cars, appliances, furniture, roads, utilties, dams, furniture and other "hard" goods. Now we make entertainment, sell legal services, sell insurance, sell money----stuff you cant really put your hands on or even see for the most part.

I cannot get over how many of my liberal aquaintences ended up in the "slum lord" business of buying and renting out el cheapo properties (one pair of teachers I know did this with credit cards) and raising the rent on proles every year, preying on---you guessed it---illegal immigrants who have a "right" to be here. They, of course, let me know how racist I am when I complain to them about renting those hell-hole dumps they own to illegals.

If you think about it, our whole real estate "system" is practically designed to make housing (shelter) cost as much as possible. The points on the mortgage lead the loan officer to want you to borrow as much as possible, the real estate shark wants 6% of as much as you can sell, the bank wants interest on the biggest loan you can muster, even the municipality would rather pull your taxes out of your escrow rather than have you pay them directly out of pocket (so you are less likely to move or even be able to if they rise too precipitously). Everyting adds up to houses that sold for 15K back in 1960, being sold now for 250K now (yes, I have actually seen that in my city). Its nuts.

Anonymous said...

Beginning in October 2005

This was the telling mistake. One reason I'm not so enthused with the idea of prosecuting this guy is that it's selective: whoever his role models were for this (the guys who got into the market five years earlier) presumably committed similar crimes and made a lot of money, but will never be investigated for mortgage fraud simply because their speculative timing was good. Prosecuting only those who lose big while letting the winners go free seems unlikely to have much deterrent effect, since everyone goes in to these deals thinking they will win.

michael farris said...

...It's all there.... I've never gotten as sucked into someone's personal life like I did with his."

Boy you aren't kidding. That site is a black hole that will suck up several hours you could be doing something else with.

And yikes! I think this kid has somehow managed to be the personification of the perfect storm. He's almost all the very worst features of Russophone and Anglophone cultures tied up in one big package of fail: The grandiose schemes that don't have a chance of happening; the lack of introspection and basic self-awareness; the total mental breakdown between actions and consequence; the disdain for education....

Anonymous said...

Casey Serin spend 40-50K on real estate guru seminars and classes. He is a little bit gullible to believe that it is easy to get rich.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Serin, why post this now as if it's news? This stuff was old back in the fall of 2007.
As far as fraud being the province of a particular group, I am a real estate broker and I've seen very little of it among Hispanics. Lots of Middle Easterners (of all countries), some of whom are going belly up because apparently a lot of their wealth (fancy cars, etc.) was derived from taking cash from their homes. Several in my neighborhood are losing the homes to either short sales or taking too much cash out.

Vanya_6724 said...

A side note - Serin in Russian is kind of a dumb sounding last name. It sounds a lot like the Russian verb for "to shit".

Chris said...

"Most problems in region is caused by assholes Uzbekistan who as everyone knows is nosy people with a bone in the middle of their brains."
-Borat Sagdiyev

Anonymous said...

Poster child... for the White Race.

Yes, he does look very Aryan.

Roger Chaillet said...

I work in the mortgage business. I speak for myself and no current or former employers.

Caveats aside, where were the regulators? The financial services sector is one of the most heavily regulated sectors of the economy. It's regulated by the feds and by the states. Why was nothing done?

I know where they were. They were told to stand down and let such crap happen. Paul Craig Roberts was right: It was done by Alan Greenspan at the behest of the Bush administration. It was done to gloss over the lousy economy after 9/11, and - I think - to goose things economically so that Bush could get reelected in 2004.

This Casey guy is not alone. A friend sold almost all the homes in a new neighorhood to out of state investors. The investors - speculators in fact - were looking to pull "Caseys." They too were getting 100% financing on a stated basis. Insanity. Dr. Marc Faber of Barron's Roundtable fame said 100% financing with no credit checks had never occurred before.

It will most definitely never happen again.