California Real Estate Fraud Report

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Archive for the 'Escrow Fraud' Category

Prison Time for Convicted Escrow Officer

September 20th, 2012 at 8:09pm

Kesha Danine Fortune Haynie, who facilitated the mortgage fraud crimes of Garret Griffith Gillilland and builder Tony Symmes, has been sentenced to serve a prison term for three years and 10 months.

Haynie, 41, received her sentence as a result of being convicted on two counts of mail fraud, for which she was prosecuted by the office of U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner. She was the operator of Empire Mortgage, located in Chico. The jury that convicted her was shown evidence that Haynie gave home purchasers cash kickback from Tony Symmes in consideration for purchasing their deliberately overpriced homes. Some of the overage was distributed to the homebuyers; Kesha Haynie and her co-conspirators split the rest. Straw buyers were involved with some of the purchases.

To read an earlier article which describes the prison terms to which Garret Gililland, Tony Symmes and their co-conspirators were sentenced, click on California Real Estate Fraud Report.

Read the original article in the Central Valley Business Times.

Loan Officer in South Bay Mortgage Fraud Case Sentenced to Prison

September 12th, 2012 at 7:40am

Deon L. Jackson, 38, a loan officer who pleaded guilty in a mortgage fraud conspiracy in the South Bay region of Southern California, has been sentenced to one year in federal prison.

Four others who pleaded guilty already received their sentences, as follows:

Anthony Lewis, 57 months. Lewis found the homes for sale and submitted fraudulent loan applications to Jackson and Jennifer Le on behalf of straw buyers

Jennifer Le, probation

Matthew Balsz, a former South Bay U.S. Bank employee from the South Bay, charged with accepting bribes, probation

– Freddy Lentz, formerly of Bank of America, charged with accepting bribes, probation

Maria Arriaza, a former escrow officer at Diamond Clear Escrow in Granada Hills, went to trial and received a sentence of 40 month for preparing phony settlement statements (escrow fraud) and for disbursing funds according to Anthony Lewis’ instructions.

All told, lending institutions were defrauded out of $3 million.

There are several previous postings about this case and the defendants in the California Real Estate Fraud Report. Use the search button on the left-hand sidebar to locate them.

Read the original article in the Long Beach Press Telegram.

Two Southland Men Will Get Prison for Defrauding Banks, Investors

August 30th, 2012 at 6:49pm

Henrik Sardariani, 44, a Glendale resident accused of scamming banks and individuals out of millions in a loan fraud scheme, was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison. His co-conspirator and brother Hamlet Sardariani, 42, of Sylmar, will be sentenced next month for the same crimes.

Both brothers pleaded guilty to felony counts of wire fraud, conspiracy and money laundering in the court of U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips, who ordered Henrik Sardariani to pay $5.4 million in restitution to his victims, along with a $100,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ranee Katzenstein termed the con “sophisticated and complex” and involved Henrik Sardariani creating phony government documents and fraudulent real estate documents that he authenticated by cutting and pasting notarizations (notary fraud). Sardariani secured his loans – which he admitted he had no intention of repaying – using his homes on Paseo Redondo in Burbank and on Maginn Drive in Glendale as collateral.

Wanda Tenney, an escrow officer, helped Sardariani avoid paying one of his loans back by helping him wire almost $2 million to a Hong Kong account (escrow fraud). Tenney pleaded guilty to conspiring to launder money and will be sentenced in October.

You can find an earlier article about the prosecution of Henrik Sardariani and Hamlet Sardariani by using the search window on the left-side or clicking on this link of the California Real Estate Fraud Report.

Read the original article for this post on the Glendale News Press.

Sylmar Man Pleads Guilty to Defrauding Lenders of $5.4m

June 15th, 2012 at 9:53am

Hamlet Sardariani, a 45-year old Sylmar man, has pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy and tax evasion charges in U.S. District Court in front of United States District Judge Virginia A. Phillips. Sardariani admitted that he conspired with others to procure four loans with a value over over $5 million by using houses he did not own as collateral. In addition, he confessed to forging documents and falsifying notary stamps (notary fraud).

Hamlet Sardariani’s brother, Henrik Sardariani, 44, of Glendale, pleaded guilty last January; Wanda Tenney, 66, of South Los Angeles, a former escrow officer, pleaded guilty on December 5;  Christopher J. Woods, 53, of Beverly Hills, pleaded guilty on November 8. All three are awaiting their sentences.

This case was investigated by the FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation (CID).

Read the original article in the Imperial Valley News.

Investors Win $2.15M Judgment in Escrow Fraud Case

June 15th, 2012 at 9:27am

Two investors who sued an escrow office in Orange County for escrow fraud have been awarded $2.15 million in a jury trial.

On March 20, 2012, Klinedinst attorneys Greg A. Garbacz and Christopher D. Holt succeeded in trial involving a multi-million dollar fraud, breach of contract, and breach of fiduciary duty case. Gatew

In Christian Astillero, et al., v. Gateway Title Company, et al., Greg A. Garbacz and Christopher D. Holt represented the two investors who had lost $1,250,000 in a Ponzi scheme involving High Park Financial Group and its owner Edward Showalter. The investors had been told to deposit their funds with Gateway Title Company (now doing business as Pacific Coast Title, a Fidelity National Title subsidiary), which, without their knowledge or permission, had released funds before the escrow instructions had been satisfied.

At the instruction of High Park, the two defrauded investors had deposited their investment monies with Gateway. According to the lawsuit, without the investors’ knowledge, Gateway had prematurely released those investment monies before the escrow conditions were satisfied, resulting in the loss of the investment in High Park’s Ponzi scheme. The plaintiffs and their attorneys accused Gateway’s escrow officers of being aware they were committing escrow fraud and in fact were active participants in the scheme to defraud them and institutional lenders.

Edward Showalter was indicted, pleaded guilty and was sentenced for defrauding over 70 investors of over $12 million.

Read the original article in PRWeb.

Former Irvine Planning Commission Sentenced to 6+ Years

May 10th, 2012 at 3:44pm

David Richard Sparks, once a talented real estate investor and former Irvine Planning Commissioner who was prosecuted for bilking his friends and family, is going to prison.

Sparks brought investors into his business by promising to buy, rehabilitate and sell foreclosed or distressed homes, something he never did (real estate investment fraud). Instead, according to evidence presented, he used the money he obtained, sometimes from life-long friends, to cover his own speculative real estate losses in Utah and forged documents, created phony escrow companies (escrow fraud) and fabricated accountings. The victims testified at his sentencing that David Sparks’ criminal conduct cost them their marriages, retirement funds, savings, credit scores and homes.

Although his plea agreement with prosecutors called for less time, Judge Cormac J. Carney added “aggravating points” when sentencing Sparks by noting he had abused his position of trust and manipulated real estate documentation and transactions. Sparks’ sentence: six and a half years in federal prison.

David Sparks was also ordered by the court to repay $4.3 million to his victims.

Read the original article in the OC Register.

Four Real Estate Professionals Go to Prison for Reverse Mortgage Fraud

April 25th, 2012 at 8:07am

Four real estate professionals in Florida and Pennsylvania are serving prison terms after pleading guilty to wire fraud by scamming elderly home owners (elder financial abuse, elder financial fraud).

Marcos Echevarria, Louis Gendason, John Incandela were loan officers with 1st Continental Mortgage  who originated reverse mortgages  for seniors in seven states after identifying the victims as vulnerable. Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECM) are insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). They also purportedly altered the home’s values (appraisal fraud) in order to negotiate fake short sales (short sale fraud). The losses to the lenders, in addition to the elderly homeowners, were $2.5 million.

The fourth defendant, Kimberly Mackey, owned Real Estate One Land Services, Inc. in Pittsburgh and performed title services. She had created fraudulent HUD-1 statements to show the mortgages had been paid off, when in fact they had not (title fraud, escrow fraud).

When all four get out of prison, they will have to find a new line of work, as they have been permanently barred from doing business with the federal government.

Read the original article in Lender Hookup.

Bank of America Employee Gets Off Light in Mortgage Fraud

April 6th, 2012 at 8:17am

Freddy Lentz, 35, the first of six Southern California defendants in a mortgage fraud conspiracy case, has been sentenced to three years of probation after pleading guilty to accepting a $1,000 bribe. Lentz formerly worked for Bank of America.

Anthony Lewis, 39, a San Fernando Valley resident, has also pleaded guilty and is awaiting his sentence. Lewis found homes for the fraud ring to purchase and directed Maria Arriaza, 34,  an escrow officer at Diamond Clear Escrow in Granada Hills, on how to disburse the ill-gotten gains.

Deon Jackson, 37, a mortgage broker from Gardena and Jennifer Le, 30, a former loan processor from the South Bay, submitted fraudulent loan applications on behalf of straw buyers.

Last but not least is Matthew Balsz, 32, a U.S. Bank employee from the South Bay. Balsz was charged with accepting bribes

The six were prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.

Read the original article in the Contra Costa Times.

Associate of Garret Gililland III Indicted for Real Estate Fraud

February 29th, 2012 at 10:12am

Leonard Williams, 49, and Joshua Clymers, 25 have been indicted for mail fraud for using straw buyers to purchase homes at inflated values (appraisal fraud), which they then flipped.

Williams is an associate of Garret Griffith Gililland III. Gililland, the subject of a number of posts on the California Real Estate Fraud Report, pleaded guilty in May 2011 to defrauding lenders (mortgage fraud, loan fraud) out of millions of dollars.

Leonard Williams was a licensed real estate agent whose license was revoked by the California Department of Real Estate in January 2012. The indictment charges that once acquiring the properties, Williams and Clymers sent the fraudulent deeds of trust through the postal service, which is what generated the mail fraud counts. Diamond Hill Financial, Inc., one of Gililland’s former companies, handled the escrow proceeds (escrow fraud).

Two developers who were also charged in Gililland’s real estate fraud scheme, Tony Symmes and William Baker, entered pleas and Symmes has returned about $4 million to the lender-victims.

Read the original article in the Chico Enterprise Record.

Two Women Charged in Orange County with Real Estate Fraud against Vietnamese Community

February 24th, 2012 at 8:56am

This is “Affinity Fraud Week” at the California Real Estate Fraud Report. By that, I mean that in the past week, almost all of the news that I have reported has been where the alleged perpetrator(s) and victim(s) have belonged to the same ethnic group (ethnic fraud). Now on to this latest story of affinity fraud.

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office has announced that two have have been charged in connection with a real estate fraud scheme that targeted the Vietnamese-American community.

Loan Thituong Nguyen, 43, of Westminster, is a licensed real estate broker who operated  Suncoast Mortgage and Suncoast Investment Realty. She and her alleged accomplice, Lynn Eichenberger, 42, of Chatsworth, have both been arrested and charged with 15 felony counts of grand theft, two felony counts of money laundering, and one felony count of conspiracy to commit grand theft with sentencing enhancements for property loss of more than $1.3 million, aggravated white collar crime over $500,000, and money laundering of more than $1 million.

Operating a book-end style scheme, Nguyen is alleged to have approached homeowners in foreclosure and promised to solve their problem in return for substantial amounts of cash (foreclosure fraud). She then made promises to investors to help them acquire foreclosed properties for a 50% upfront fee toward the purchase (real estate investment fraud). The monies she collected were then deposited into an account set up by Lynn Eichenberger.

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas believes there are more victims than the 17 Vietnamese investors who claim to have been defrauded.

Read the original article in the Orange County Register.

© Copyright 2007-2017 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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