California Real Estate Fraud Report

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Florida Real Estate Agent Being Prosecuted for Bankruptcy Fraud, Short Sale Fraud

September 22nd, 2016 at 7:34pm

Reafael Sanchez, an Orange County, Florida real estate agent, is facing charges after federal prosecutors said he devised a short sale fraud scheme.

Sanchez is alleged to have concocted a  scheme to help owners in foreclosure to file fraudulent bankruptcy paperwork. The bankruptcy stays would possibly give Sanchez enough time to conduct a short sale of the properties and earn himself a commission.

Federal prosecutors, though, said that over a two-year period, Sanchez collected money and assisted at least 30 homeowners facing foreclosure in filing fraudulent bankruptcies. All of the bankruptcies he helped his clients file were dismissed in 14 or 15 days, according to bankruptcy attorney Scott Shuker.

Sanchez, who faces up to five years in prison, has agreed to make a plea in the case, but a date hasn’t been set.

Read the original article in WFTV Orlando.

Roseville Woman Sentenced to 14.5 Years in Prison for Mortgage Fraud and Identity Theft

September 21st, 2016 at 8:20am

The following is a press release from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California:

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez sentenced Rachel Siders, 41, of Roseville, to 14 and a half years in prison for her involvement in mortgage fraud schemes that cost financial institutions over $17 million, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

Federal juries returned verdicts in two trials, in March 2015 and December 2015 finding her guilty of multiple counts of bank fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, making a false loan application, and committing aggravated identity theft.

According to evidence presented at the first trial, in 2008 Siders and co-defendant Theo Adams, 50, of Roseville, applied for a home equity line of credit using his relative’s name on an underwater Roseville property owned by Adams. They submitted false tax returns in the relative’s name with significantly inflated income along with mortgage application documents with forged signatures. Siders, a notary public, falsely notarized the loan application documents, which were sent to Washington Mutual Bank. The bank relied upon the false documents to provide a $250,000 line of credit. Siders received $170,000 of the proceeds. After making minimal payments, the defendants defaulted on the loan.

According to evidence presented at the second trial, from mid-2006 through early 2008, Siders and Vera Kuzmenko, 46, of Loomis, and other defendants engaged in a mortgage fraud scheme involving over 30 properties in the Sacramento area. They secured more than $30 million in residential mortgage loans on more than 30 homes purchased through straw buyers. The loan applications contained materially false information as to the straw buyers’ income, employment, assets, and intent to occupy the residences. Records introduced at trial showed that Vera Kuzmenko received millions of dollars, and that Rachel Siders received hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Vera Kuzmenko, was a licensed real estate agent for part of the scheme, and Rachel Siders ran the Rocklin office of the escrow company used on the majority of the transactions. She helped funnel millions of dollars to her co-defendants, which was not disclosed to the lenders.

“The sentence today reflects the seriousness of Siders’ crimes, which included participation in two separate mortgage fraud schemes. Over the course of two years, Siders oversaw and participated in numerous fraudulent loans and diverted money into shell accounts for her own benefit. She abused her position as an escrow officer and as a notary public to make this criminal enterprise succeed,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Talbert. “The sentence imposed is a significant reminder that those who engage in such conduct will be held accountable.”

“Today’s sentence sends a clear message; anyone profits from fraudulent mortgage transactions—whether by creating the scheme or facilitating it—will not escape justice,” said Supervisory Special Agent Dan Bryant at the FBI Sacramento field office. “The FBI aggressively pursues those involved in such large-scale, complex financial fraud matters to seek justice for the victims and protect the regional economy.”

“Rachel Siders was driven by greed in her participation in this mortgage fraud which targeted the Sacramento area,” said Michael T. Batdorf, Special Agent in Charge, IRS‑Criminal Investigation. “Today’s sentencing is a reminder how serious our courts consider this criminal activity and our commitment in providing financial expertise to our federal partners in these types of crimes.”

This case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lee S. Bickley, Michael D. Anderson, and Matthew D. Segal prosecuted the case.

On March 15, 2016, Judge Mendez sentenced Vera Kuzmenko to 14 years in prison. She was found guilty of multiple counts of mail and wire fraud, money laundering and witness tampering. On April 19, 2016, Theo Adams, 50, of Roseville, was sentenced to two years in prison. Previously, Judge Mendez sentenced co-defendants Peter Kuzmenko, 38, of West Sacramento, to 19 years in prison; Aaron New, 42, of Sacramento, to 11 years and three months in prison; Nadia Kuzmenko, 37, formerly of Loomis, to eight years in prison; and Edward Shevtsov, 52, of North Highlands, to eight years in prison. They were found guilty on February 13, 2015, after a 21-day trial, of multiple counts of mail and wire fraud associated with the mortgage fraud scheme. In addition, Peter Kuzmenko, Edward Shevtsov, and Aaron New were found guilty of money laundering associated with the scheme, and Nadia Kuzmenko was found guilty of witness tampering.

 

Utah man charged in real estate investment scam targeting Orange County investors

September 16th, 2016 at 9:21am

SANTA ANA, California – A Utah man has been arrested for his role in a real estate fraud scheme in which Southern California investors collectively suffered nearly $3.5 million in losses.

Shawn Patrick Watkins, 46, of Layton, Utah, was taken into custody on September 1 when he surrendered to FBI agents in Orange County. Watkins had been charged with mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering in a nine-count indictment returned on August 17 by a federal grand jury.

Watkins and others offered investments in a company known as The Equity Growth Group (TEGG) between approximately 2007 through 2014. According to the indictment, the victims were solicited during seminars in Orange County hotels offered by Investor Workshops, Inc., in which Watkins presented himself as an expert in the field of real estate investment. In order to lend credibility to the scheme, Watkins attempted to gain trust by telling investors that he was formerly employed as a law enforcement officer.

As part of the solicitations, Watkins made omissions and false promises to investors. For example, the indictment alleges that Watkins falsely told investors that TEGG controlled hundreds of properties that generated rental income and TEGG would continue its growth by acquiring new properties. Watkins led investors to believe that they would receive substantial interest payments or that their money would be secured by collateral through the filing of deeds of trust on properties.

In reality, over the course of the several years, until the scheme collapsed in the spring of 2014, TEGG was not acquiring new properties and had a negative cash flow.  Investor money was not used to acquire new properties, nor was it secured by collateral, and many victims did not receive interest payments. In fact, money that was paid to some victims as purported interest or a return on their investment came from investments made by other victims.

Read the rest of the press release from the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California.

Orange County Men Get Stiff Prison Sentences for Loan Modification Scam

September 2nd, 2016 at 10:47am

Two Orange County men from have been sentenced for their involvement in a mortgage loan scheme that was nationwide

Serj Geutssoyan, aka Anthony Kirk, 32, of Santa Ana, was sentenced to 52 months in prison. His co-defendant Daniel Shiau, aka Scott Decker, 30, of Irvine, received a 58 month sentence.

Along with five other persons who were charged, Geutssoyan and Schiau illegally charged upfront fees of $2,500 to $4,300 to provide loan modifications and debt relief services to homeowners. Over 1,000 homeowners were affected who were duped out of over $3 million.

A third defendant, Aria Maleki, was sentenced to 112 months back in January. The remaining four defendants also pleaded guilty but have not yet been sentenced.

Read the original article in NBC Connecticut.

Long Beach Pastor Admits to Mortgage Fraud

September 2nd, 2016 at 10:34am

Long Beach pastor Karl Robinson, 52, has pleaded guilty to one count of bankruptcy fraud.

According to the press release by the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California, Robinson would stall the evictions of homeowners who had been foreclosed on by filing fraudulent documents, including phony bankruptcy petitions. For this, he charged the homeowners almost $3 million.

“This defendant filed scores of fraudulent bankruptcy actions — sometimes on multiple occasions in relation to a single property,” U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker said in a statement. “He took advantage of distressed homeowners by stealing identities and lying to them about what he could do for their properties as long as they continued to pay his fees.”

You can read another article about Pastor Robinson’s mortgage fraud in the Long Beach Press Telegram.

Former Gophers Basketball Star Sam Jacobson Charged in Short Sale Fraud

August 25th, 2016 at 12:31pm

Former Gophers basketball star Sam Jacobson once owned a home in Apple Valley, Minnesota.

In 2011, Jacobson sold his home in a short sale to his then-girlfriend, Traci Quam. He was supposed to move out per the lender’s requirements that the sale be arm’s-length, but Quam admitted he did not, in an interview with the Minnesota Commerce Fraud Bureau.

Traci Quam resold the home four months later for $538,000 and pocketed $176,000 in profit. She then used the money to purchase another home in Apply Valley. According to the complaint filed again both of them, “The day she closed on the Cobblestone Lake home, July 20, 2012, Sam Jacobson proposed to her.”

Sam Jacobson and Traci Quam have each been charged with one count of theft by false representation and one count of theft by swindle.

Prosecutors: why wasn’t the listing agent charged?

Read the original article in KMSP-TV and the Minnesota Star Tribune.

 

Two Plead Guilty in Loomis Wealth Solutions Mortgage Fraud Case

August 11th, 2016 at 8:42pm

Michael Llamas, 31, of Tracy, and Peter Woodard, 48, of Ventura, pleaded guilty in federal court in Sacramento to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Llamas separately pleaded guilty to a count of concealment of a felony.

Llamas owned LW Premier Holdings LLC and Woodard owned Cobalt One LLC. They had rights to buy homes at discounts from builders in several states but purchased homes at full price without disclosing this to the lenders.

Loomis Wealth Solutions convinced investors to buy homes using their credit, which would then be rented out and managed, with the investors getting regular payments. Owner Lee Loomis was arrested in 2012 and charged with multiple counts of mail fraud and wire fraud. After pleading guilty in January 2016, he asked the court to withdraw his plea.

There are numerous articles on Lee Loomis and Loomis Wealth Solutions on earlier postings on the California Real Estate Fraud Report.

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces Settlement Over Allegations of Illegally Evicting Military Servicemembers

August 11th, 2016 at 8:27pm

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced that California has reached a $252,000 settlement with two privatized military housing contractors over the companies’ unlawful evictions of 18 military servicemembers and their families from private military housing complexes in San Diego and Orange Counties.

Attorney General Harris argued that these evictions violated the California Military and Veterans Code, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, and other state debt collection laws which protect servicemembers who are sued while serving on active military duty and are therefore unable to appear and defend themselves in court.  These laws prevent the entry of a default judgment unless a lawyer has been appointed to represent the interests of the absent servicemember, and they prohibit the use of false statements to collect a debt.  In addition, the contractors allegedly violated California privacy laws by filing court documents that included unredacted Social Security numbers, birth dates, or other personal information of nearly 100 servicemembers and military family members.

Read the full press release on the website of the State of California Department of Justice Office of the Attorney General.

Last of Three Defendants in Rodis Law Group Case Pleads Guilty

August 10th, 2016 at 2:07pm

Bryan D’Antonio, 50,  is the last of three co-defendants to confess to a conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud in a telemarketing scheme that ran from October 2008 and June 2009 and defrauded over 1,500 people out of about $9 million, according to a statement from Eileen Decker, the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California.

D’Antonio was described by authorities as the owner and operator of the Rodis Law Group, aka America’s Law Group. His fellow defendants Charles Wayne Farris and Ronald Rodis have already  pleaded guilty to the same charge.

Prosecutors said Rodis Law Group and America’s Law Group found their victims by placing radio advertisements claiming to negotiate lower-interest rates or principal balances by using their team of attorneys, when only Ronald Rodis was an attorney.

Read the original article in the OC Register. There a number of articles about this case that can be found by searching the California Real Estate Fraud Report.

Imposter Property Owner Arrested in Rental Fraud Scam

August 8th, 2016 at 10:39am

Nicholas Daniel Cardenas Vallez, 28,  has been arrested for taking money from prospective renters for property he did not own.

Visalia police say that Vallez took rents and application fees from at least 11 victims. Detectives and the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office contacted both the victims and the real property owner to build their case against Vallez.

Read the original article in the Fresno Bee.

© Copyright 2007-2016 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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