Newport Beach investor Mike Alexander was portrayed as hero a few years back for acquiring and planning to rehabilitate hundreds of foreclosed residences in Detroit. Now that many similar deals have turned to merde in Cleveland, he is being portrayed as a scam artist who once went by another name and faked his own death. Google the name of Alexander's partner, Marc Tow, and up pops blogs and websites from victims exposing the Western State University-trained lawyer–and leasee of many Birch Street offices in Newport Beach–as another con man.
Attention is back on the pair thanks to an ongoing Cleveland television news investigation into EZ Access Funding, Tow and Alexander's Newport Beach-based business that pulled off a scam involving 129 foreclosed properties in the Forest City.
When the heat came down, Tow told investors, the California Bar Association and others that he moved to Kansas. But reporters from Cleveland's ABC affiliate found him in Newport Beach, where he claimed he just happened to be visiting relatives. On camera, Tow admitted that he and Alexander scammed Cleveland.
In a follow-up, Chief Investigator Ron Regan traveled to North Carolina, where in 1987 Alexander, then working as a used-car lot owner and going by Michael Pedwell, disappeared. When he did not show up to pick up his wife and another couple for a cruise on his ski boat, she called authorities. Search and rescue teams spent two days in the waters off Wrightsville Beach, where debris from the capsized boat was found, but no body was located.
Pedwell/Alexander was about to be declared dead by drowning, but then authorities discovered something right out of the Coen Brothers' Fargo: strange transactions regarding a Ferrari and Mercedes-Benz Pedwell had reported stolen and filed insurance claims on. He was later pulled over in Ohio driving with another woman, having shaved off his beard and mustache and dyed his black hair blond. He was later sentenced to five years probation for insurance fraud, and in her divorce filing his wife accused him of draining $237,000 from their joint accounts and stealing her valuable jewelry, luggage and other personal items.
Alexander has found himself in hot water here in California. In 2004, while he listed a Solana Beach address, he admitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission that he had engaged in mortgage fraud. He was ordered to surrender $1.29 million and pay a $500,000 fine. In 2006, the California Department of Corporations ordered Alexander and others to stop selling EWorldPartners.com franchises.
Warrants for Tow's arrest were issued by Cleveland's housing court in August 2010. That same month, a vacant home on West 83rd Street in that city exploded. EZ Access had acquired the foreclosed property two years before.
Alexander was propped up as a hero for the underclass that same year in a CNN Money report from Detroit, where EZ Access had acquired 250 foreclosed or distressed residences. According to the Cleveland TV reporters, he's now sunning himself back in our neck of the woods. One wonders what name he'll choose next.