Convicted con man accused of trying to swindle realtor in $23 million scam

Robert Schnepf
Robert Schnepf(SCSO)
Published: Nov. 2, 2022 at 5:48 PM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - A convicted con man is in the Sarasota County Jail after allegedly trying to swindle a local realtor by attempting to buy property worth $23 million with a phony name, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office said.

Robert Schnepf is also accused of fraudulently pledging $3 million to the V Foundation, a pediatric cancer research charity championed by local sportscasting legend Dick Vitale.

Deputies say Schnepf contacted a local realtor Oct. 26. Using the name Robert Banagino, he told the realtor he was from New York and wanted to buy a commercial property on 26th Street Court East.

According to the arrest report:

After completing the deal for $17.5 million, Schnepf, posing as Banagino, told the realtor he also wanted to buy a $5.2 million home in east Sarasota County in the Forest at Hi-Hat Ranch area.

While preparing the paperwork for the second deal, Schnepf also signed a purchase option for a $132,000 car at a Mercedes-Benz dealership.

While at the dealership, Schnepf told the owner he had more than $127 million in a bank account and need to donate some of the money for tax purposes. The dealer suggested the V Foundation, a charity raising money for pediatric cancer research associated with TV personality Dick Vitale.

After arranging a meeting with Vitale, Schnepf pledged $3 million to the Foundation. The realtor began having doubts about Schnepf’s story and began online searches on his background. She found several social media pages accusing Schnepf as a fraudster.

Detectives followed up and learned Schnepf is currently on felony probation on a previous fraud case.

Vitale expressed outrage on Twitter Oct. 29, when the news began leaking. “This morning I am DEVASTATED & HEARTBROKEN to find out he is a notorious con man who has been arrested numerous times all over from NYC to Florida. I believed that we had $3 million for kids vs cancer. I am sick to think in my house he was hugging my wife & I & so happy.”

Schnepf was arrested Nov. 1 and charged with scheming to defraud to obtain property.