Finally, prosecuting short sale fraud has come to Southern California.
Three persons, including two licensed real estate agents, have been arrested after allegedly getting caught in a creative real estate fraud scheme that cost an unnamed lender $1.5 million. The investigating agencies were the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Real Estate Fraud Team and the FBI.
Saliya DeSilva, 49, of Northridge, Nora Yefima, 50, of Santa Clarita and Vahe Hayrapetian, 45, of Burbank were indicted by a federal grand jury on multiple counts of wire fraud and bank fraud.
According to news wire service reports, Bank of America foreclosed on a property in the community of La Cañada Flintridge, on which the owner defaulted in July 2009. Before BofA could list the property, Sal DeSilva, then a Realtor® with USA Realty and Loans (he allowed his DRE license to expire in May 2011), posed as the homeowner and gave BofA counterfeit bank documents and convinced it the foreclosure was not valid. Bank of America then rescinded its sale. All this was unbeknownst to the true homeowner.
Here’s where the plot thickened: authorities allege that DeSilva then sold the multimillion dollar home in a short sale for $250,000 after providing the title company with counterfeit documents, included a forged short sale approval letter from Bank of America. The unnamed buyer then got a $1.5 million loan from Vahe Hayrapetian, who allegedly forged loan documents that were sent to the lender, which wired the funds to Oshana Escrow, Nora Yefima’s business in Encino. Note: Nora Yefima also holds a real estate sales person’s license and sells real estate under the brokerage of Interstate Mortgage Lenders Inc., also in Encino.
Yefima allegedly prepared false escrow documents and wire transferred a small amount of the loan proceeds to the title company and then disbursed the remaining more than $1 million to parties not related to the sale. The “buyer” then defaulted on the loan.
Fidelity National Title Company may be stuck with having to pay the unidentified lender because Bank of America states that it never authorized the short sale, which, if the allegations are true, was fraudulent.