June 23, 2022
A Houston-area social media influencer who touted herself as an expert in how to land the perfect man pleaded guilty to duping followers and acquaintances into bogus real estate deals and was sentenced to five years in prison, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced Thursday.
Mikki Lynn Fox, 41, known on YouTube as lifestyle and dating consultant Michaela Pink and, more recently, Summer Black, pleaded guilty to aggregate theft in the 179th District Court for swindling eight investors out of a total of $136,624. The second-degree felony carried a possible sentence of two to 20 years in prison.
“This defendant used her online platform to gain the trust of unsuspecting victims and steal tens of thousands of dollars of their hard-earned money,” Ogg said. “Thieves are crafty and clever in coming up with new ways to commit their crimes, and we will use every means at our disposal to stop them.”
From March 2015 to July 2020, Fox lured people in Texas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and California into different types of fraudulent real estate investments. Some she scammed locally, including parents whose children played baseball with hers; others had contacted her after seeing her online videos offering dating advice.
Fox would ask her targets to invest $35,000, for example, to help her buy a house to flip, claiming it would sell quickly. She promised to return their principal investment and a share of the profits. In the meantime, she would pay interest in tiny increments to keep them from suspecting anything was amiss.
When the investors later asked for their money, Fox made excuses for why the property wasn’t yet on the market – and then stopped returning their calls.
“She was very charming. People would look her up online and say, ‘Oh, she is somebody.’ No, she just created that persona,” said Sheila Hansel, assistant district attorney in the DA’s Office’s Consumer Fraud Division, who prosecuted the case.
But anyone looking to invest with someone they don’t know should go beyond a simple Google search. Hansel urged Harris County residents to learn as much about the person as possible on their own and to have an attorney or real estate agent look over any paperwork beforehand.
“Don’t give strangers your money. And everyone you know only online is a stranger,” she said.