California Real Estate Fraud Report

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Two Men Plead Guilty to Defrauding Lenders of $33.6 Million in Novel Scheme

May 20th, 2016 at 10:14am

Coronado businessman Courtland Gettel and Arizona attorney Jeffrey Greenberg have pleaded guilty to raking in over $33.6 million by taking out fraudulent loans on expensive homes in Del Mar and La Jolla, according to federal prosecutors.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s office in San Diego, Gettel, 42, and Greenberg, 66,  took out loans against as many as eight homes by then pretending previous loans had been paid off in order to secure more loans from new lenders. The new lenders were tricked by forged loan reconveyances that indicated that the homes were lien-free and then recorded the fraudulent documents  at the San Diego County Recorder’s Office (title fraud).  Because title was clouded as a result, when the men defaulted on the loans, there was confusion as to the secured interests of the lenders in the properties.

The names of the firms run by Courtland Gettel were Conix, Inc. and Variant Commercial Real Estate — VCRE.

Read the original article in the Coronado Patch.

 

 

 

San Joaquin Real Estate Agent Arrested for Elder Abuse

May 12th, 2016 at 10:51am

Geana Or, a real estate agent from Lathrop, in San Joaquin County, has been arrested on suspicion of grand theft and elder abuse. Or, 46, who also uses the name Geana Lay.

Or / Lay will face prosecution in Santa Clara County by the Real Estate Fraud Unit with the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office.

Investigators found out about the alleged fraud after a 73-year-old Los Altos Hills resident reported that he was approached by his real-estate agent last year and proposed that he purchase two homes that were “supposedly approaching foreclosure” with the intent of flipping them for higher value in the future. Between January and March 2015, the agent, since identified as Or, convinced him to write 10 cashier’s checks in her name, totaling about $475,000.

Read the original article in Mercury News.

Mortgage Broker Pleads Guilty in Foreclosure Fraud Case

May 12th, 2016 at 10:38am

Ventura County District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced that Gregoria Mendoza, a former mortgage broker, has pleaded guilty to multiple counts of felony grand theft and foreclosure consultant fraud.

Prosecutors said that Mendoza, 60, created six separate real estate investment schemes and stole about $470,000 from victims in Ventura, Los Angeles and Tulare counties. She had told the victims their money would be invested in real estate projects but instead she spent the money on herself.

Mendoza also illegally charged one of the victims upfront/advance fees for a mortgage loan modification.

Read the original article in the Ventura County Star.

Assistant Coach Bandit’ Faces New Charges in Loan Modification Fraud

May 6th, 2016 at 5:01am

Former youth coach James Allen Ramsdell, 51, has been arrested on suspicion of several fraud charges, including a felony count of grand theft by false pretense, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said.

Prosecutors allege that Ramsdell, a Huntington Beach resident, offered to provide loan-modification services for a woman who had received a notice of default on her mortgage from her bank. Ramsdell took an upfront fee and cashed several checks totaling $10,000 from the woman, according to prosecutors, but did not perform any services. The woman subsequently submitted a fraud report to the Orange District Attorney’s Office.

In 2009, Ramsdell, who worked as a sub-prime mortgage broker while also coaching youth baseball and soccer,  pleaded guilty to robbing banks in Anaheim, Costa Mesa, Huntingon Beach and San Diego County. FBI officials referred to him as the “Assistant Coach Bandit.”

Read the original article in the Orange County Register.

Co-Founder of Pacific Property Assets Gets Light Sentence Due to Minor Child

April 29th, 2016 at 1:16pm

John Packard is a convicted felon who caught a lucky break.

Packard, 66, is the co-founder of Irvine-based Pacific Property Assets, along with his former partner, CEO Michael J. Stewart, 68. In exchange for testifying against Stewart in a case in which prosecutors alleged that about 650 mostly elderly investors lost a total of $169 million in savings and retirement funds when PPA declared bankruptcy, Packard received only 2 1/2 years, whereas Stewart was sentenced to 14 years.

Packard’s luck is that he and his ex-wife, who is serving a life sentence for contracting the murder of her wealthy boyfriend William McLaughlin, have a 16-year old daughter. U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney granted the lenient sentence to Packard for his cooperation and lesser culpability than Stewart.

Read the original article in the Orange County Register.

Sacramento Owner of Foreclosure Rescue Company Convicted of Multiple Real Estate Fraud Charges

April 29th, 2016 at 1:00pm

A Sacramento County jury has found 52-year-old Richard Henri Fecteau guilty of 23 felony real estate fraud charges involving grand theft, recording false documents and illegally acting as a foreclosure consultant, according to a Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office press release. The jury also found an enhancement for a white-collar crime.

Fecteau ran a foreclosure rescue company called Team Fecteau between 2011 and 2014 . Homeowners were told to deed their properties to a trust in which the co-trustees were Fecteau and people who had recently filed for bankruptcy. After an automatic stay against foreclosure on the property was granted under federal bankruptcy laws, Fecteau told the homeowners to make monthly payments to him and have no further contact with their lenders.

After most of his clients were foreclosed on, Fecteau and one of his employees filed phony mechanic’s liens against the properties in order to extract settlements by the lenders before they resold the homes.

 

 

Anthony Keslinke Sentenced to 4 Years in Real Estate Fraud, Drug Money Scheme

April 29th, 2016 at 12:48pm

Danville businessman Anthony Keslinke, 47, was sentenced to four years in prison by Judge Jon Tigar in the U.S. District Court in Oakland after previously pleading guilty to real estate fraud and money laundering schemes.

Keslinke’s sentence arose out of a guilty plea last year in which he admitted to devising schemes to short-sell properties and for accepting what he thought was drug money from an undercover Internal Revenue Service agent. He must also pay almost $1.3 million in restitution to his victims and to forfeit approximately $3 million in assets.

Read the original article in the Mercury News.

Read the article in the Antioch Herald to learn more about Anthony Keslinke‘s fraudulent short sales (short sale fraud) and the profits he made from it.

Realtor-Funded “Reverse Mortgage” for Elderly Woman Now a Lawsuit

April 27th, 2016 at 7:55am

Barulich Dugoni Law Group is representing an elderly Menlo Park woman in a lawsuit against a Realtor®.

Alexandra Banis, an attorney with the firm, says Robert Leitao  gained an interest in the home of Gunhild B. Bogue after he took advantage of her when she was facing foreclosure last year.

San Mateo has an Elder and Dependent Adult Protection Team that consists of representatives from the county’s Health System, District Attorney’s Office, County Counsel and private law firms, such as Barulich Dugoni.

Bogue is an 89-year-old whose estate is now under the conservatorship of the San Mateo County Public Guardian. The lawsuit alleges Leitao contacted Bogue after the property was listed as in foreclosure. He allegedly drafted several documents  such as a will, deed of trust and loan agreement and offered to pay her mortgage while allowing her to remain in the home until she died in exchange for her to deed him the property worth an estimated $1.4 million. According to Banis, Bogue signed the documents under duress.

Leitao denies the allegations and said he saved Bogue’s property, which was just days away from foreclosure and had amassed almost $800,000 worth of debt and a mortgage that hadn’t been paid in years.

Read the original article in the San Mateo Daily Journal.

Benjamin Wagner Resigns as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California

April 22nd, 2016 at 6:54am

One of the most prolific and successful prosecutors of mortgage fraud and real estate fraud has resigned.

Benjamin Wagner, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California, said he will step down at the end of April. He will be replaced by First Assistant U.S. Attorney Phillip Talbert will become acting U.S. attorney on May 1.

Wagner, 56,  was appointed U.S. Attorney by President Obama in 2009; it is customary for U.S. attorneys to resign their posts when presidential administrations change. His district covers the region from Bakersfield to the Oregon border, areas which suffered by the housing and mortgage crisis.

Read the original article in ABC News.

 

Modesto Woman Sentenced for Defrauding Lenders on Shopping Center Project

April 22nd, 2016 at 6:45am

Aruna Kumari Chopra, 66, was sentenced to prison one year and one day in prison, to be followed by a year of home confinement, for her mail fraud conviction in a mortgage fraud scheme she perpetuated against lenders.

In 2008, Chopra purchased property on Dale Road in Modesto that she planned to develop into a shopping center to be called “The Plaza at Dale.” She filed documents with the Stanislaus County Recorder’s Office containing forged signatures so that her lenders wouldn’t find out about liens on the property. The defrauded lenders made loans on the property for approximately $8.9 million. No word as to whether she still “owns” the property.

Aruna Chopra’s husband Sawtantra Chopra has his own ethical challenges, having previously pleaded guilty to one count of receiving illegal kickbacks in a real estate transaction in Danville. For that, he was sentenced to 180 days of home detention, fined $75,000, ordered to do 500 hours of community service and placed on three years of probation, according to a December 1, 2014 report in the Modesto Bee. Sawtantra Chopra, who studied medicine in India and has practiced in California since 1975, cooperated with an investigation by the state Medical Board, which only suspended his doctor license for one month and ordered him to take an ethics course.

Read the original article in the News India Times.

© Copyright 2007-2016 Monique Bryher

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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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