California Real Estate Fraud Report

You have just entered the #1 private-sector resource on the Internet for real estate fraud. In doing so, you have voluntarily left the dimension of the conventional real estate world and crossed over to the Dark Side, the realm where greed, dishonesty and evil are the order of the day. Sign up for a free subscription to this comprehensive news resource and receive weekly, timely news reports about real estate fraud, mortgage fraud, short sale fraud, REO fraud, title fraud, loan fraud, appraisal fraud, affinity fraud, loan modification scams, securities fraud and elder financial fraud.

Wave of Short Sale Deposit Scams in the Los Angeles Area

March 23rd, 2017 at 9:41am

The following short sale fraud scam was printed on the California Association of Realtors website:

While we all are concerned about cybercrime and identity theft, it appears taking someone’s money the old-fashioned way has reappeared in short sale scams in Southern California. The alleged scams appear to follow the same basic format.  A short sale agreement was entered into four to six months ago.  The buyer made an initial deposit in the $5,000 to $15,000 range into the listing broker’s non-independent broker escrow.  As with most short sales, the process takes several months and the selling agent is assured that the listing agent is working towards lender approval – it is just taking more time.  Then the communication slows down, the selling agent begins to get concerned and calls the listing broker’s escrow.  There is no answer and no return call and no other number to contact.

A case has been opened with the Long Beach Police Department, Financial Crimes Division.  The officer in charge is Detective Robert Ryan (562) 570-7391.  As of late December, there were approximately 20 victims.  However, the C.A.R. Hotline has received more than 15 calls since the first of the year which have been referred to the Long Beach Police.  The California Bureau of Real Estate is also aware of this case.

Additionally, the Los Angeles County Sheriff has made an arrest in what appears to be an identical scam involving at least 32 victims with a total loss of $498,000. To contact the LA Sheriff’s office call Detective Keith Clark at (562) 946-7217 or tips can be made anonymously at Crime Stoppers, (800) 222-TIPS (8477).

If you believe you or your buyer has fallen victim to a short sale scam, you should contact the police and the Bureau of Real Estate.

Appeals Court Upholds $23 Million Award for Disabled Siblings Defrauded by Contractor

March 17th, 2017 at 9:11am

This month California’s Second Appellate District, Division Two, Court of Appeal upheld an award (case no. BC495095) of $21 million in punitive damages and $2.2 million in compensatory damages against building contractor Noam Bouzaglou, and his shell corporation, Ness Adam, Inc. for defrauding siblings Kathleen McGinty and Tim McGinty, in order to obtain their 1948 home in Santa Monica.

Kathleen suffers from autism and Tim (now deceased) from bipolar disorder, depression and substance addiction.

After their garage was red-tagged by the City of Santa Monica in 2010, they hired Noam Bouzaglou to do the repairs. A series of events and meetings that occurred between Bouzaglou, attorney Andrew J. Stern and the McGintys that resulted in the latter transferring their home to Bouzaglou.

Jeanne Haworth, the trustee after Tim McGinty‘s death, found out that the home was in escrow for $1.55 million and contacted the original estate planning attorney Joe Girard of LA Elder Law, who filed a lawsuit to stop the sale.

“If this sale had gone through, $1.55 million could have disappeared overnight,” said Girard. “Once we got the real estate under control of the judge, Jeanne and Kathleen had more security.”

Read the original article in PRWeb and on the LA Elder Law website.

Ventura County D.A. Warns of Rental Scams

March 17th, 2017 at 8:40am

If you are a renter or prospective renter, this article in the Camarillo Acorn will be invaluable to you. The Ventura County District Attorney’s Office is proactive in protecting the rights of residents and this article contains important information to help you protect yourself.

Rental scams are an ongoing problem, at least in Southern California. Criminals will often induce renters to sign leases to properties the criminal has no legal right to rent, or even to show.

If a real estate agent is involved and the listing is posted on online media such as Craig’s List, search to see if the property is also listed on major real estate websites such as Trulia. Ask the agent for their business card, which by law requires their California Bureau of Real Estate license number to be indicated. The brokerage under which their license is held should also be listed.

Long Beach Man Sentenced to Prison for Mortgage Fraud Scam

March 10th, 2017 at 12:49pm

Long Beach resident John Martynec, 41, has been sentenced to federal prison for two years for helping to run a scheme which cost lenders over $2.4 million.

Martynec,  a formerly licensed real estate broker and co-owner of JTR Real Estate Inc. in Norwalk, found homes that could be purchased and “flipped” after undergoing renovations. He and one of his real estate agents, Elek Andrade, would purchase the homes by using the personal information of individuals without the consent of those persons.

Andrade, 32, was sentenced to one year and one day, as was Mireya Espinoza, 36, for providing fraudulent supporting documents, such as employment verification.

“Schemes like this can destabilize the financial industry and the real estate market,” United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker said in a statement. “The last economic crisis demonstrates the dangers of such destabilization and the importance of prosecuting crimes like those committed by these defendants.”

U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer ordered the two men to pay $2,573,092 in restitution and Espinoza to pay $1,476,966 in restitution.

Read the original article in the Long Beach Post.

A Story about an Appraiser Who is One of the Good Guys

March 2nd, 2017 at 11:06am

This is an great human-interest story about Gary Crabtree, who has run an appraisal business in Kern County for 55 years.

In the course of his work in the first decade of this century, Crabtree uncovered a massive mortgage fraud and appraisal fraud scheme operated by the brokerage Crisp & Cole Real Estate and Tower Lending. There are many articles posted in the California Real Estate Fraud Report about David Crisp and Carl Cole and their employees.

You can read about Gary Crabtree‘s remarkable career in the Bakersfield Californian.

 

Former Roseville Real Estate Agent Sentenced to Prison for Forging Documents

March 2nd, 2017 at 10:54am

Alla Samchuk, 45, who was previously a licensed real estate agent, has been sentenced to nine years and six months in federal prison for mortgage fraud, identity theft and obstruction of justice. She was convicted last August.

According to prosecutors, from 2006 through 2008, Samchuk concocted a mortgage fraud involving two homes in Roseville and one in El Dorado Hills. Because she was unable to qualify for the loans, so she found straw buyers to apply for the loans in their own names. The applications contained false statements regarding income, employment and assets, including falsely representing that the straw buyers would occupy the homes.

Judge Garland Burrell Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California in Sacramento was the trial judge. He imposed the longer sentence because Samchuk had threatened a witness not to report her crimes.

You can read more about the history of the case by going to the U.S. Government Publishing Office.

Read the original article in the Sacramento Business Journal.

Attorney Stephen Siringoringo Sentenced in San Bernardino Loan Modification Scam

March 2nd, 2017 at 10:36am

Stephen Siringoringo, a Westminster attorney who targeted poor and Spanish-language victims in San Bernardino County in a loan modification fraud scheme, is going to prison for seven years and ordered to pay $108,000 in restitution.

Siringoringo, 35, who was disbarred in March 2015, pleaded guilty to to grand theft and money laundering for his role in the $44 million scam. He found his victims by advertising on radio and television and gaining their trust for his “mortgage relief” services by telling them he was an attorney.

San Bernardino County District Attorney officials said in the news release, “Siringoringo, in particular, preyed on the victims by using his position as an attorney to gain their trust and charge large unlawful upfront fees and monthly payments. Most of the victims never received any loan modification, and many who had lost their money with Siringoringo, Cobb and Clausen sought assistance through other means.”

The investigation was conducted by the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office-Bureau Real Estate Fraud Unit. In addition to his conviction, Stephen Siringoringo was ordered by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to provide $20,825,000 in restitution to victims outside of the county.

Read the original article in 24/7 and Highland News.

 

Ventura Resident to Jail for Foreclosure Consultant Fraud

March 2nd, 2017 at 10:18am

Patrick Iturra, who was a partner in a firm called Mercury Business Group, has been sentenced to one year in jail after he was convicted of five counts of foreclosure consultant fraud and grand theft.

Mercury Business Group claimed to help homeowners who were having trouble paying their mortgages. According to prosecutors, there were eight documented victims, seven of whom lost their homes to foreclosure.

Read the original article in KCLU.

Newport Beach Man Agrees to Settlement with SEC on Golf Course, Real Estate Venture

February 17th, 2017 at 11:44am

Paul A. Garcia, of Newport Beach, has agreed to pay $3.3 million in settlement to fraud charges brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Garcia allegedly defrauded investors and misappropriated money from the investment fund he managed, Caliber Partnership I LLC on a golf resort and real estate venture deal.

Another person, Richard T. Woods of Southlake, Texas was accused of misrepresenting Caliber’s financial status in marketing materials that he prepared and which were approved by Garcia. According to the SEC’s complaint, one of the fraud victims was an 82-year-old who lost $250,000.

Read the original article in L.A. Biz.

Newport Coast Man Charged in Financial Elder Abuse of 95-Year-Old Woman

February 17th, 2017 at 11:30am

Thomas Chapman Hood, a 68-year-old Newport Coast man, has been charged with financial elder abuse of a 95-year-old woman with dementia by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. Specifically, the charges are 19 felony counts of forgery, one felony count of first degree residential burglary to commit larceny and financial elder abuse, and one felony count of theft from an elder, with sentencing enhancement allegations for non-accomplices being present during residential burglary, aggravated white collar crime over $500,000, and property loss of over $200,000

Chief of Staff Susan Kang Schroeder said Hood, who was employed part-time as an assistant to the trustee, allegedly forged the trustee’s signature on checks totaling $534,850 dollars between March 2015 and September 2016. It was the trustee who discovered the fraud when he tried to make a payment from the woman’s bank account to to her assisted living home which was denied due to insufficient funds.

Thomas Chapman Hood is a licensed real estate broker. Check his license status with the California Bureau of Real Estate.

Hood allegedly used the stolen money to pay for his personal expenses, including credit card bills and a 2-week vacation in Paris, France, according to the press release by the Orange County District Attorney.

Read the original article in The Patch and Behind the Badge OCSD.

 

© Copyright 2007-2017 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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