California Real Estate Fraud Report

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Monique Bryher joins the CalBRE Commissioner’s Real Estate and Mortgage Loan Advisory Panel

January 22nd, 2015 at 4:33pm

I was recently invited by Real Estate Commissioner Wayne Bell to be a member of the  Commissioner’s Real Estate and Mortgage Loan Advisory Panel and have accepted.

The Commissioner for the California Bureau of Real Estate (“CalBRE”) and its employees occasionally  reach out to industry members or to subject matter experts or specialists for advice, expertise, guidance, information, ideas, perspectives or feedback on various real estate and/or mortgage topics or issues.

It is indeed an honor to be a contributor to this group of real estate and mortgage industry professionals.

-Monique Bryher

California Department of Business Oversight Wants to Suspend Ocwen’s Mortgage License

January 16th, 2015 at 12:32pm

California regulators have Ocwen Financial Corp. in their targets and are reportedly trying to suspend the giant servicer’s mortgage license. They are accusing Ocwen of failing to provide documentation that shows it is in compliance with the California’s laws to protect homeowners.

In 2013, the California legislature passed a package of laws, known as the Homeowners Bill of Rights, which were implemented to increase transparency in the foreclosure process and reduce mortgage fraud.

California Department of Business Oversight spokesman Tom Dresslar said that his department has been asking Ocwen for the required information for almost a year but that Ocwen has “repeatedly failed to adequately respond.” As a result, the agency issued a subpoena and a regulatory order, both of which were violated. That prompted the matter to be referred to an administrative law judge with the request that Ocwen‘s license be revoked.

Read the original article in Fox Business.

Yorba Linda Man, Brother Charged in Loan Modification Scam

January 16th, 2015 at 12:08pm

Thirty-seven year-old Carlos Jose Centeno has been arraigned on allegations he was the puppet-master of a $390,000 loan modification scam that victimized mostly Spanish-speaking persons.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Pete Pierce reported that Centeno has been charged with 121 felony counts that include conspiracy and grand theft for illegally charging upfront fees for loan modification services. His companies were called Foreclosure Prevention Department and Orange-based Debt Settlers of America.

Carlos Centeno’s co-defendants are his brother, Rick Centeno, wife, Lizeth Arzate, Susie Rabadan and Hector Valdivia.

Read the original article in the OC Register.

U.S. Attorney Settles Mortgage Fraud Lawsuit against Golden First Mortgage Corp.

January 16th, 2015 at 9:17am

The government has settled a civil mortgage lawsuit against Golden First Mortgage Corp. that accused the mortgage company and its owner, David Movtady, of defrauding the Federal Housing Authority, according to a press release from U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara.

Golden First Mortgage Corp., which is based in Great Neck, New York,agreed to pay $36 million to settle a complaint originally filed by the U.S. in April 2013 and amended in August 2013. In the complaint, the U.S. accuses Golden First Mortgage Corp. of violating the False Claims Act through years of misconduct relating to the mortgage company’s participation in the Federal Housing Administration (FHA)’s Direct Endorsement Lender Program.

Read the original article in DSNews.

Modesto Man Accused of Bilking Real Estate Investors

January 8th, 2015 at 9:11am

The Modesto Bee reported that Ralph Leyva, 62, was arraigned in Stanislaus Superior Court on three felony counts of grand theft with special allegations of engaging in a pattern of fraud, plus an additional felony count of trying to steal $188,630 from Bank of America.

Leyva, who used aliases of George Anderson and Andrew Taylor, is accused of creating a phony company called California REO Services LLC and  Delta Escrow, according to Prosecutor Jeff Mangar of the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office. The Modesto Bee article states that the charges stem from Leyva allegedly posing as an agent authorized to sell distressed properties foreclosed on by government entities to real estate investors.

Ranch Cucamonga Pair Charged for Selling Home They Didn’t Own

January 8th, 2015 at 8:48am

According to the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office, Emma Adel, 45, and Mazen Fazah, 39,  are facing 22 felong charges for selling a home they fraudulently acquired to an unsuspecting buyer.

The defendants, who own Upland-based business, Smart Edge Auto, forged both the name of the owner (title fraud) and a notary public (notary fraud) on a vacant house, transferred the property into a trust, then re-sold the home to the victims, according to Senior Investigator John Vega.


Countrywide Whistleblower to Get $57 Million

December 22nd, 2014 at 1:32pm

There is no category of businessperson I admire more than the whistleblower. Without them, our country would be even more corrupted by the acts of large corporations and our citizens would be the victims of that corruption. So it gives me a great deal of satisfaction to post the following story, published in DSNews.

Edward O’Donnell, a former executive with  Countrywide Financial Corp., will be getting $57 million for the key role he played in the government recovering more than $15 billion against Bank of America.

O’Donnell filed two whistle-blower lawsuits under the False Claims Act: the first having to do with Countrywide’s sale of faulty mortgage-backed securities to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac through a program known as the High Speed Swim Lane (HSSL, or “Hustle”) (see this report from Bloomberg News). That suit, filed in 2012, resulted in the government negotiating a settlement with Bank of America, which bought Countrywide, for $1.27 billion.

The second suit O’Donnell filed against Countrywide resulted in a record $16.65 billion settlement with Bank of America with the government in August 2014.

Bank of America bought Countrywide for $4 billion in 2008. It probably doesn’t look like such a good investment anymore.

U.S. House Moves to Ban FHA Funding Homes Seized by Eminent Domain

December 12th, 2014 at 12:28pm

The U.S. House just passed an appropriations bill that will make it more difficult for municipalities to use eminent domain to condemn and seize underwater mortgages. The bill would ban the FHA from refinancing loans that have been seized via eminent domain, a practice already forbidden by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Read the original article in National Mortgage News.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s 7 Measures to Protect Homeowners

December 11th, 2014 at 9:43pm

The following information is being made available, courtesy of mortgage broker Dan Dobbs. If you’re looking for a loan, you can find Dan on his website:

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is proposing additional measures to ensure, it says, that homeowners are treated fairly by mortgage servicers.

Since the new mortgage rules went into effect on Jan. 10 2014, the CFPB has kept a close eye on making sure servicers maintain accurate records, and give troubled borrowers direct and ongoing access to servicing personnel.

This proposal follows the CFPB’s continued focus on making sure the rules are working as intended.

Here are the 7 key changes that will impact servicers:

  1. Extended borrower protection

Right now , a mortgage servicer must give the borrower certain foreclosure protections, including the right to be evaluated under the CFPB’s requirements for options to avoid foreclosure, BUT only once during the life of the loan.

Under the newly proposed rule, servicers would have to give those protections again for borrowers who have brought their loanscurrent at any time since the last loss mitigation application. 

  1. Death protection

If a borrower dies, CFPB rules currently require that servicers promptly identify and communicate with family members, heirs, or other parties, known as “successors in interest,” who have a legal interest in the home.

The proposal would expand the circumstances in which consumers would be considered successors under the rules, including when a property is transferred after a divorce, legal separation, through a family trust, between spouses, from a parent to a child or when a borrower who is a joint tenant dies.

  1. Proper notifications

Servicers must notify borrowers promptly that the loss mitigation application is complete, so that borrowers know the status of the application and their foreclosure protections.

  1. Holds servicers to timeframe

The proposal clarifies that generally a transferee servicer must comply with the loss mitigation requirements within the same timeframes that applied to the transferor servicer.

Under the current system, when mortgages are transferred from one servicer to another, borrowers who had applied to the prior servicer for loss mitigation may not know where they stand with the new servicer.

  1. Clarifies servicers’ obligations

The bureau is proposing to clarify what steps servicers and their foreclosure counsel must take to protect borrowers from a wrongful foreclosure sale.

Servicers who do not take reasonable steps to prevent the sale must dismiss a pending foreclosure action.

This aids servicers in complying with, and assist courts in applying, the dual-tracking prohibitions in foreclosure proceedings to prevent wrongful foreclosures.

  1. Delinquent advance date change

It would clarify that delinquency, for purposes of the servicing rules , begins on the day a borrower fails to make a periodic payment.

Under the proposal, when a borrower misses a payment but later makes it up, if the servicer must apply the payment to the oldest outstanding periodic payment, the date of delinquency advances.

  1. Keep borrower updated, regularly

The proposal would generally require servicers to provide periodic statements to those borrowers, with specific information tailored for bankruptcy, along with requiring servicers to provide writtenearly intervention notices to let those borrowers know about loss mitigation options.


Walnut Creek Real Estate Broker Charged with Defrauding Neighbors

December 11th, 2014 at 3:13pm

Walnut Creek real estate broker James Thomas Haro has been arrested and is accused of defrauding his neighbors out of $370,000.

According to the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office, Haro, 67, was arrested and charged with one count of securities fraud and two counts of grand theft in relation to investments he made on behalf of a neighbor who is a physician and the physician’s spouse.

Haro has been in real estate for over 32 years and is the sole officer of the Walnut Creek-based real estate brokerage firm Alamo Mortgage Corporation.

Anyone who believes they may have been a victim of real estate fraud by James Haro is asked to call Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Senior Inspector Ike Menchaca at (925) 957-2248.

Read the original article in the Pleasant Hill Patch.

© Copyright 2007-2015 Monique Bryher

Legal Disclaimer.

The information and notices contained on The California Real Estate Fraud Report are intended to summarize recent developments in real estate fraud, mortgage fraud, short sale fraud, REO fraud, appraisal fraud, loan modification scams, loan modification fraud and other real estate related crimes occurring in Los Angeles and California. The posts on this site are presented as general research and information and are expressly not intended, and should not be regarded, as legal advice. Much of the information on this site concerns allegations made in civil lawsuits and in criminal indictments. All persons are presumed innocent until convicted of a crime. Readers who have particular questions about real estate fraud, mortgage fraud and appraisal fraud matters or who believe they require legal counsel should seek the advice of an attorney.

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