Call the district attorney and file a case for fraud...i got ten bucks says that the you're not the first person to get taken. A few bucks with a private investigator will be money well spent.
if the case qualifies for small claims file there, the defendant will not be able to bring in an attorney. if they do show up with an attorney have the attorney excluded from the court room by the judge or referee.
you absolutely need a real estate attorney to advise you in this matter. But, as almost everyone else pointed out, unless the deposit is very large, it may be more cost effective to let this go. So sorry for your difficulties! Next time, please be sure to have a buyer's agent represent your interests. Best of luck!
Depending upon the amount of money involved you might want to .....
1. Small amount of money i.e. less than the attorney fee.........dismiss
2. Large amount of money.....i.e. significantly more than attorney fee.......get an attorney and go for it.
Good Luck !
Did the Vendor have an option to purchase from the true owner that they sold to you? If they did then they did have an interest that was transferable and you are out of luck. The attorney may be correct to state that the vendor didn't hold himself out to be the owner of the property, just the owner of an Option to Purchase. Attorneys use terms like "owner" with precision...be sure you are not reading into anything they say. He/she Options a property and then Re-Options it to you for Quick Real Estate Wealth...such schemes are the stuff of seminars and there are many twists on the theme.
How much money are you out? Does your jurisdiction allow attorneys in small claims court?
If this individual "signed" the lease purchase agreement - wouldn't you say he "held himself out to be the owner"?
I think even Judge Judy would deem this to be true - I'm not a lawyer - and I can't give you advice - but you should discuss it with a lawyer - there may be more than just the deposit on the line here.
Your best bet is to consult with an attorney on this subject, as this is a legal matter. I do agree with Robert. If the attorney advises you that the legal costs will be higher than what your deposit is, it would only make sense to dismiss it. Best of luck to you!
Melissa Mancini, Realtor, CBR, GRI