California Real Estate Fraud Report

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New program by Solano County District Attorney to make stealing homes more difficult

May 27th, 2015 at 8:41am

The Solano County District Attorney’s Office has developed a new programr that seeks to prevent theft of a person’s home by fraudsters (title fraud).

The Real Estate Fraud Notification will electronically scan documents in the Assessor/Recorder’s Office that would transfer title in any manner, then mail a letter to the person paying the property taxes with a copy of the recorded document to alert them. If that person is unaware of the transaction resulting in the recorded document, they should contact the District Attorney’s Office.

Read the original article in The Reporter.

Tulare County DA investigator honored

May 27th, 2015 at 8:37am

The following is a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California:

FRESNO — U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced Dwayne Johnson, an investigator with the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office, as the 2014 winner of the Eastern District of California Law Enforcement Award for Outstanding Investigator in the Fresno Division.

The award is one of four presented annually to a law enforcement agency and an officer in each of the Sacramento and Fresno divisions of the Eastern District of California to recognize outstanding collaboration between federal, state and local law enforcement in addressing public safety issues in the region.

Johnson was recognized for his work with the San Joaquin Valley Mortgage Fraud Task Force. He worked closely with the Fresno U.S. Attorney’s Office and its partner federal law enforcement agencies in leading several mortgage-fraud-related investigations and prosecutions that have targeted large-scale fraud schemes, yielded guilty pleas and vindicated the rights of countless victims.

“I am proud of the well-deserved recognition given to Investigator Johnson for showing instinct and professionalism to help bring justice to the numerous victims of this scam,” said Tulare County District Attorney Tim Ward.

In May 2013, Johnson was the lead investigator in a fraudulent foreclosure rescue business case. On the basis of a single complaint, Johnson commenced a long-term investigation that ultimately uncovered a fraud scheme that victimized dozens of homeowners in numerous counties, many of whom eventually lost their houses in foreclosure. Johnson prepared and undertook the execution of several search warrants, reviewed thousands of pages of documents, conducted dozens of witness interviews, and planned and executed various undercover operations. Juan Ramon Curiel and Santiago Palacios-Hernandez pleaded guilty in December 2014 and admitted they had caused more than $2.5 million in losses to more than 50 vulnerable homeowners and financial institutions.

“The financial crisis hit our communities particularly hard and over the past six years our office has taken a leading role in prosecuting those who engaged in mortgage fraud to enrich themselves while harming our economy and driving down the value of our neighborhoods,” said Wagner said. “Our success was only possible because of dedicated, hard-working law enforcement officers like Investigator Johnson. My office, the Eastern District, and Tulare County all owe a great debt to Investigator Johnson and his many skilled and dedicated colleagues in local law enforcement who do the heavy lifting in protecting our communities.”

Johnson is nine-year veteran of the District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigations. He has enjoyed a distinguished career in law enforcement having served with the Fresno Police Department and the FBI. He began his law-enforcement career as a correctional officer in the U.S. Army.

Former Bakersfield Real Estate Agent Sentenced for Mortgage Fraud Scheme

May 22nd, 2015 at 9:04am

The following is a press release from the FBI’s website:

FRESNO, CA—Arlene Jeanette Mojardin, 32, of Bakersfield, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Anthony W. Ishii to two years and six months in prison for conspiring to commit bank fraud, mail fraud, and wire fraud, in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme in Bakersfield, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.

According to court documents, from 2007 to 2010, Mojardin conspired with others to use straw buyers to purchase residential properties in Bakersfield. They paid straw buyers to purchase properties developed by Jara Brothers Investments (JBI) and Pershing Partners LLC and funded the purchases using loans they obtained based on false and fraudulent loan applications. The loan applications contained false statements concerning the straw buyers’ employment status, income, assets, intent to occupy the properties as their personal residences, and the source for the down payments for the purchase of the properties. The conspirators concealed from the lenders that the property developers funded some down payments. They submitted false supporting documentation to lenders such as false and altered bank account statements purporting to show that the straw buyers had high bank account balances, false verifications of the straw buyers’ bank account funds, false verifications of rent purporting to be from the straw buyers’ landlords, false pay stubs, and false verifications of employment.

Mojardin was a licensed real estate agent and handled many of the real estate transactions in furtherance of the conspiracy. She was also employed at relevant times at JBI, was a property buyer from Pershing Partners on at least two of the real estate transactions in the conspiracy, and obtained loans based on false and fraudulent information. Mojardin received proceeds from the conspiracy including payments for purchasing property as a nominee buyer and payments for acting as the real estate agent on many of the other transactions in the conspiracy. Mojardin admitted she caused lenders approximately $3,713,600 in losses due to her role in the conspiracy.

This case is the product of a joint investigation by the Internal Revenue Service—Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kirk E. Sherriff, Henry Z. Carbajal III, and Megan A. S. Richards are prosecuting the case.

Co-defendant Antonio Perez-Marcial was sentenced on May 12, 2014, to three years and 10 months in prison for his role in the conspiracy. Co-defendant Candace Gonzales previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, mail fraud, and wire fraud, and her sentencing is set for June 8, 2015. Co-defendant Ricardo Salinas previously pleaded guilty to bank fraud, and his sentencing is set for June 29, 2015. Co-defendant Melissa Jara pleaded guilty to wire fraud and her sentencing is set for June 22, 2015. Co-defendants Eliseo and Sergio Jara previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, mail fraud, and wire fraud, and their sentencing hearings are set for June 22, 2015. Co-defendants Lucia and Joseph Chavez previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, mail fraud, and wire fraud and their sentencing hearings are set for July 20, 2015.

The charges were brought in connection with the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The task force was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices, and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets; and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Since fiscal year 2009, the Justice Department has filed over 18,000 financial fraud cases against more than 25,000 defendants. For more information on the task force, please visit www.StopFraud.gov.

Note: Arlene Jeanette Mojardin’s real estate license was revoked in March 2014 by the California Bureau of Real Estate.

Man who pleaded guilty to real estate fraud charged with same offense

May 22nd, 2015 at 8:54am

A Modesto  who pleaded guilty to stealing over $1 million from investors in California and Texas has been arrested and charged with two felony counts of grand theft.

In the newest case, Xue Heu, 37, is accused of using the same tactics to scam another victim out of $6,000.

Xue Heu defies the court order and continues to defraud victims,” wrote  Glenn Gulley, an investigator with the district attorney’s real estate fraud unit in a document filed in Stanislaus Superior Court.

Read the original article in the Modesto Bee.

Fighter Chuck Liddell suing title, escrow companies in failed Vista del Hombre development

May 22nd, 2015 at 7:55am

Former fighting champion Chuck Liddell  is suing Cuesta Title Company, Stewart Title of California and Stewart Title Guaranty for the losses he suffered in the failed $24 million golf course development known as Vista del Hombre.

Liddell’s friend Kelly Gearhart, the developer of the project and a former Atascadero Citizen of the Year, is awaiting sentencing on federal fraud charges June 1. Because he filed bankruptcy, 500 of the investors are suing the title companies, claiming they were part of Gearhart’s Ponzi scheme.

Defense counsel for Cuesta Title is claiming that it knew nothing about the fraud or Ponzi scheme orchestrated by Gearhart and that it did its job as an escrow company.

Read the original article in The Tribune.

Note: there are many earlier articles about Kelly Gearhart, which you can find by searching this blog.

 

Newbury Park man suspected of elder financial abuse – again

May 15th, 2015 at 10:09am

Newbury Park resident Rod Scott Hormell has been arrested on suspicion of elder financial abuse, according to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office.

Hormell, 59, is on probation following his conviction in 2013 for taking money from an 89-year-old man. In the current case, a relative reported that hormell embezzled $100,000 from a family member.

Read the original article in the Ventura County Star.

Punishment for Nevada real estate broker in short sale fraud seen as light

May 15th, 2015 at 5:13am

The Reno Gazette-Journal has published a lengthy essay that highlights the weak punishment meted out to real estate licensees who facilitate short sale fraud.

In this case, real estate broker Kyle Krch of Krch Realty and his agent Michael Harding were fined by the Nevada Real Estate Commission. For 39 violations, Krch was fined $102,000 plus over $10,000 in fees for failing to “represent his distressed sellers and provide them a written disclosure about his financial interest with the investment group buying their properties.” Michael Harding has to pay $23,000 plus $3,167 in costs.

The article suggests that the punishment was not enough because neither licensee will have his license suspended.

So far, there is no indication that Washoe County District Attorney’s office or the Nevada Attorney General have any interest in prosecuting.

 

 

Six straw buyers convicted in mortgage fraud scheme

May 8th, 2015 at 9:44am

Six people who served as straw buyers in the Sacramento area have been convicted of wire fraud.

Three defendants: Irina Markevich, 30, of Rio Linda; Anatoliy Markevich, 35, of Sacramento; and Marina Pukhkan, 53, of Rio Linda were each convicted of two counts of wire fraud, according to a press release by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California. The three remaining defendants: Daniil Markevich, 38, and his wife, Svetlana Markevich, 38, both of Escondido, and Alex Markevich, 40, of Rio Linda were each convicted of one count of wire fraud.

All six defendants acted as straw buyers, obtaining home loans by submitting fraudulent loan applications and related financial documents. After obtaining the loans, they made the mortgage payments for a few months, then allowed the properties to go into foreclosure, causing losses to the lending institutions of more than $700,000.

Read the original article in the Sacramento Bee.

Elderly real estate agent arrested on suspicion of elder financial abuse

May 8th, 2015 at 9:32am

A 74-year-old real estate agent has been arrested for allegedly committing  elder financial abuse and grand theft, with police saying he had taken at least $500,000 from about 20 victims.

Fremont resident Jeremiah Bishop is a licensed real estate agent. Since 2005 he promoted himself to his victims as a commercial real estate investor with a partner. Police say there was no partner and the properties Bishop claimed were for sale were in fact not available.

Read the original article in the Mercury News.>

Elder financial abuse thwarted by alert bank teller

May 8th, 2015 at 9:02am

A teller at the Bank of Sierra is a hero after preventing 25-year-old James Beckelman-Ibarra from stealing $80,000 from an elderly Tulare County woman.

Beckelman-Ibarra had promised the 82-year-old woman in the summer of 2014 that she would receive $8,000 for the remainder of her life if she invested the $80,000 with him upfront. When he drove the woman to her bank, the teller, who had known the woman for several years, asked Beckelman-Ibarra to produce photo ID and a business card, neither of which he had in his possession. When Beckelman-Ibarra attempt to leave, the teller contacted the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department, whose deputies arrested him.

James Beckelman-Ibarra was found guilty of attempting to deceive the woman and received a 280 day jail sentence, four-year suspended prison sentence and five years of felony probation.

Read the original article in the Fresno Bee.

 

 

© Copyright 2007-2015 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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