Feedback on Al and Alice Black: Real Estate Scam Artists

Readers share their first hand experiences dealing with Al and Alice Black, real estate scam artists based in Nova Scotia.
By the MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors
March/April 1973
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A real estate scammer might try to sell you a scenic overlook like this even though the property isn't for sale.
ILLUSTRATION: CRAIG SPONSELLER


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We own a farm In Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia and must sadly confirm your worst suspicions about Al Black. He sure has a reputation for wheeling and dealing. For example, he'll tell naive land buyers that non-Canadian immigrants can't buy land. So he buys it (with their money) supposedly for them . . . then won't turn the title over. Beware! I know, I also find It hard to believe that someone could be like that.

Name withheld by MOTHER EARTH NEWS

Having worked for a couple of second-rate newspaper rags, I find it gratifying to discover a publication that sticks by its readers rather than sticking it to them. I refer to the Al and Alice Black affair and your warning in the last issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

I guess you're aware that in the same issue in which Madeline and Kenny's letter appeared there was another note from Al and Alice describing the land bargains to be had in Nova Scotia, also offering assistance to would-be immigrants. I wrote to them and received a letter in reply, which I'm forwarding to you. I never followed through on Al's offer, as outlined in his letter ( to buy land In his name, then turn over the deed as a gift—MOTHER EARTH NEWS) because frankly, I'm suspicious of anyone who Immediately wants to do so much for someone he's never even met. The possibility of a flim-flam is there.

Name withheld by request of writer

We read your notice about Al and Alice Black. Here's our experience with them, for what it's worth.

We were interested in settling in Nova Scotia so we answered their Contact ad and asked about the area and what land parcels were available. They wrote and urged us to get land now. . . all would be gone in 1973. In their next letter they wanted assurance that we weren't realtors. They also said that "everyone" bought sight unseen. To sum up; their letters were a little weird, but we kept on writing.

Around Christmas they sent a wire about a 50-acre parcel of land that was available for $1,500. By that time we were so stoked up about Nova Scotia that we were going to send in the money and buy sight unseen. But, after thinking, we wrote for more details. No answer from the Blacks. We wrote again . . . still no answer. We've never heard from them since. We thought this was odd, but after reading your "Beware" notice I guess it figures. Wonder what would have happened if we'd sent them $1,500? I shudder to think about it! That's all the land money we've got and it represents long, hard work at 8-to-5 jobs.

Name withheld by MOTHER EARTH NEWS

I was glad to see your note about Al Black. I should have written to you sooner as I've had a personal experience with Al and can confirm your most horrendous suspicions about his character.

I began by answering Al's ad in MOTHER EARTH NEWS last fall. We corresponded and Al offered to help me find and purchase some land in Nova Scotia. I planned to drive up in January, but then Al wrote and encouraged me to come up right away to attend a tax sale. Before long, a friend, Bill, and I were on a plane to Halifax.

When we met Al we were absolutely impressed. He seemed to be the most genuine and sincere person in the world. We were shown some fine country hospitality. Anxious not to be a burden, we gave Al some money to put towards food and such ($30.00) and worked hard around the farm every day. Meanwhile, Al showed us some property he said was for sale. We loved it. Al convinced us to give him $2,000 so that he could give the owner a deposit and negotiate a sale. We'd have given him more if we could have cashed our checks and money order sooner. As it turned out, the land was not for sale and we began to realize that after trusting Al completely, almost everything he had told us in the course of two weeks was a fabrication of some sort.

We met a lot of good people in Tatamagouche, however, and they told us enough about Al's past shady dealings to fill a book.

We got a lawyer and with his help got all but about $400 back. Al stuck to his stories claiming that the $400 was taken up in fees and an irretrievable deposit. The man who Al had told us owned the land didn't. Al had advised us not to negotiate locally on our own because we would be overcharged.

Finally we went to the RCMP and pressed charges. We almost had a case of criminal fraud that would have put a stop to this nonsense, but Al knew more about what he was doing than we did. None of the charges stuck and, as far as I know, Al Black is still ripping people off. We saw Al receive money orders—each made out to him and totaling thousands of dollars—from different people in the States. These poor folks are losing a lot more money than we did if they think Al Black is buying them land and giving them a fair deal.

Al was never an oil executive. His boy is not seriously ill, according to Alice. Al was born in Nova Scotia in 1919 not far from Tatamagouche. He's a Leo/Virgo, for what it's worth. You can print any or all of this you like, but I'd appreciate it if you could include a note to Chuck and Nina asking them to contact me. I met them briefly at Al's and learned that they were planning to come to Nova Scotia to build on land they bought through Al. Since they left I found that Al had gotten them to make the deed in his (Al's) name, supposedly to avoid some sort of Alien Transfer Tax. Al proceeded to transfer the title to his son and consequently the land cannot be transferred again until the boy is of age.

I could go on and on . . . I'd like to hear from anyone who knows anything about Al. It's a shame that a few people like him make this a world in which we can't trust one another freely. I felt foolish for being taken, but it's sad to think that trusting people is foolish.

Name withheld by MOTHER EARTH NEWS

Due to the sensitive nature of this situation, I am withholding the names of three of the individuals quoted above and, as indicated, the fourth writer has himself requestedanonymity.MOTHER EARTH NEWS.  


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