Bristol realtor pleads guilty to Ponzi scheme


Date: January 19, 2021


Greeneville, TN — On January 19, 2021, Tammy Lynn Hawk of Bristol, Tennessee, entered guilty pleas to counts of wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, money laundering, and filing a false tax return in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee at Greeneville. Sentencing has been set for April 23, 2021 at 10 a.m., before District Judge Corker, in United States District Court at Greeneville.

Hawk faces an agreed sentence of 10 years in Federal prison, plus up to $1.25 million in fines, and supervised release of three years.

As part of the written plea agreement, Hawk waived indictment by a federal grand jury and agreed to plead guilty to an information charging her with the above-listed crimes. Hawk admitted to using her position as a realtor to swindle numerous customers who thought they were making real estate investments. In reality, Hawk was taking money from new investors to either fund her own lifestyle or to repay existing investors.

According to the plea agreement, Hawk was a licensed real estate agent. Under her scheme, she would falsely tell current and former customers about parcels of real estate that she could arrange for them to purchase and "flip" for substantial gains. She would advise customers that once they agreed to purchase a particular property, the customer would need to provide her with cash, and through a relationship she had with a Florida real estate investment company, that company would purchase the property and then convey the property to the customer. As part of her scheme, Hawk would provide phony contracts purporting to represent contracts for the purchase of properties by the Florida company. However, neither Hawk nor the Florida real estate investment company had any ownership in the properties Hawk was offering to sell. After customers provided Hawk with cash, she would use the money for her own benefit or would repay previously defrauded customers with it.

As part of her scheme, Hawk also signed at least one customer's name to a purchase and sale agreement without the customer's knowledge or consent. As set out in the written plea agreement, Hawk caused or intended to cause losses to 24 victims in excess of $1 million. She also failed to pay income tax on the money she was obtaining from her fraud for tax years 2015 through 2018, leaving unpaid income taxes of more than $100,000. In 2019, Hawk filed for bankruptcy, but she then failed to list her accurate income or all the people she had swindled.

The investigation was conducted by the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigations, the United States Secret Service, the Bristol Police Department, and the Office of the District Attorney General for Tennessee's Second Judicial District.

Assistant United States Attorneys Mac D. Heavener and Todd Martin represented the United States.