California Real Estate Fraud Report

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Archive for the 'Loan Fraud' Category

AG Harris Proposes a Homeowners Bill of Rights

March 29th, 2012 at 8:42pm

California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who played a key role in the settlement agreement between the attorneys general for all 50 states and Bank of America, Wells Fargo, GMAC/Ally, JP Morgan Chase and CitiMortgage for the fraudulent “robo-signing” the banking giants used to expedite foreclosure against homeowners, has now devised a Bill of Rights.

Although currently referred to as a Homeowners Bill of Rights, the proposed legislation would provide protection to legal tenants as well. It seeks to redress ongoing bad faith (in my opinion) business practices employed by not only the above banks but other lending institutions as well.

Here are some of the highlights:

(1) An end, or at least moderation, of the practice of dual-tracking. Thousands of homeowners thought they were working with their bank on a loan modification and then found out the bank was pursuing and completing foreclosure against them.

(2) Evicting tenants who have valid leases on houses that were foreclosed will cease.

(3) Believe it or not, robo-signing is still happening and which lender actually owns the promissory note to the property is obscured through the use of the Mortgage Electronic Registration System (MERS). MERS is the conduit by which the banks avoided paying city and county transfer taxes, which is required when there is a sale and makes it impossible for a homeowner wanting to contact his or her lender to know who it is.

(4) A new concept: proposal of a multi-jurisdictional grand jury for complex cases that cross county lines.

AG Harris also proposes a $25 fee to be paid by lenders or their trustees, upon filing a Notice of Default (NOD) against a borrower. The revenue generated would help fund law enforcement actions against lenders that fail to comply.

Read the original article in the Orange County Register.

Straw Buyer Admits to Lending His Credit in Farm Mortgage Fraud

March 22nd, 2012 at 11:27pm

Larry Otting, 66, a co-defendant in a case involving the purchase of a business called Healthy Family Farms, admitted during testimony that he allowed his fellow defendant Sharon Palmer use both his name and good credit (straw buyer) in order to secure financing for the farm (loan fraud, mortgage fraud).

Sharon Palmer and James Stewart, 64, bought the farm in Santa Paula after Otting received a loan for $1.1 million from Rabobank.

Palmer and Stewart are charged with multiple felonies related to the solicitation of investors for the farm purchase and fraud involving a bank in a real estate transaction (mortgage fraud, real estate fraud). In addition, Palmer is charged with stealing the loan money from the bank and another $450,000 from investors, at least one of whom is elderly (elder financial fraud).

Read the original article in the Ventura County Star.

Five San Diego Residents Plead Guilty in Mortgage Fraud, Appraisal Fraud Conspiracy

March 15th, 2012 at 6:57pm

Five people, including two married couples, have pleaded guilty for their roles in a large-scale mortgage fraud case that has resulted in 26 indictments thus far.

The first couple is Al and Leila Siapno. They pleaded guilty to wire fraud when they lied on their loan application to refinance their home. Al Siapno, 35, is a Border Patrol agent with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in San Diego.

Co-conspirator, Matthew McIntyre, 40, is (was?) a licensed real estate appraiser. He pleaded guilty to lying on an application in order to get a loan by creatively including another person’s assets as his own.

The second couple to plead guilty is David Berkenfield, 32, and Kristin Berkenfield, 31. They admitted to overstating their income in order to get a loan.

Read the original article in Mortgage Daily.

Nothing to Brag About: California Leads in Suspicious Loan Reports

March 8th, 2012 at 10:07pm

In a dubious but not surprising statistic, California is the leader in suspicious home loans (possible mortgage fraud or loan fraud), according to FinCen, the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.

San Jose, Riverside and Los Angeles were the top three cities in terms of the suspicious activity reports (SARs) filed by banks for the period July 2011 – September 2011. The reports exceeded Miami and Las Vegas, which were ranked fourth and fifth.

According to the filings by the lending institutions, approximately 46%  of the SARs were related to homeowner debt removal or refinancing. The statistic I found most astonishing is that 15% of the loan applications involved discrepancies in the social security numbers.

Mortgage fraud and its close relative, short sale fraud, have created a significant negative impact on property tax valuations and collection, a point underscored repeated in my ebook “How to Commit Short Sale Fraud . . . and Get Away with It.” California Attorney General Kamala Harris has recognized this fact and noted that “We are looking at a situation of up to $640 billion in wealth having been lost because of this wave of foreclosures that has hit the state. There is a direct connection” between mortgage fraud “and the issue that we are challenged with in terms of our state budget crisis.”

Read the original article in the North County 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.

High-Profile Mira Mesa Agent Accused of Mortgage Fraud

February 23rd, 2012 at 5:04pm

A long-time Mira Mesa real estate agent, his wife and seven of their associates have been charged in a 12-page indictment alleging mortgage fraud in which lenders lost up to $15 million.

The charges facing Eric Elegado and his wife Charmagne Elegado include conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering.

The defendants are collectively accused of falsifying more than 100 loan applications (loan fraud, mortgage fraud) between 2002 and 2007, most often targeting low-income Latinos (affinity fraud, ethnic fraud), according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Orabona. Orabona said that Charmagne Elegado had “defrauded her own parents” and called her “the most culpable person in this criminal enterprise.”

Charmagne Elegado, 47, was an account executive at New Century Mortgage during the period the mortgage fraud occurred. New Century Mortgage was the first of the subprime lenders to go bankrupty when the California real estate market reversed its steep growth and nearly crashed.

The following defendants worked for E Real Estate & Loans, Inc.: Theodore Cohen, 54, (Chief Financial Advisor); loan officers Minh Nguyen,28, of San Marcos; Alexander V. Garcia, 38, of San Diego; Roman Macabulos, 38, of San Diego; Ramin Lotfi, 36, of San Diego and Roderick Huerto, 34, of San Diego; and also Regidor Pacal, 51, of San Diego.

Read the original article in NBC San Diego.

Three Plead Guilty in Ventura to Massive Mortgage Fraud

February 23rd, 2012 at 4:12pm

A Century 21 real estate agent has pleaded guilty to felony bank fraud along with two accomplices in a mortgage fraud scheme that the U.S. Justice Department characterized as “Operation Stolen Dreams.”

The agent, Raul Rocha, Luis Ramos and Rosa Amelia Fernandez entered their guilty pleas in the nationwide mortgage fraud case that included 1,215 defendants and more than $2.3 billion in losses. The bad guys were caught after honest real estate agents went to the Ventura District Attorney’s Office and reported their suspicions of wrongdoing. Amazingly, Rocha’s real estate broker’s license has not been revoked by the California Department of Real Estate.

As the reader might suspect, many of the victims did not speak much, if any, English and belonged to the same ethnic groups as the criminals (affinity fraud, ethnic fraud) Their loan paperwork was fabricated to show they had more assets than was the case (loan fraud).

Defendants who have already pleaded guilty are Oxnard residents Maria Del Rocio Partida, Miriam Sukey Estrada, Adela Naranjo, Rogelio Vega and Richard Ceniseroz; Camarillo resident Patricia Vega; Ventura resident Eduardo Magdaleno; and Santa Paula resident Leticia Hernandez.

Most of the convicted defendants have been ordered to pay restitution in addition to the prison sentences they have received or are going to receive.

Read the original article in the Ventura County Star.

Moorpark Man Charged with Using Straw Buyer to Refinance His Home

February 23rd, 2012 at 3:57pm

The office of the Ventura County District Attorney has charged Antonio Pena, 39, of Moorpark with two counts of grand theft and one count of money laundering in a real estate fraud involving a home he once owned.

The home, located at 4855 Penrose Avenue in Moorpark, belonged to Pena and another man until April 2008, when it appears to have been foreclosed by Fremont Investment and Loan.

The case arose from Pena allegedly using a straw buyer to refinance the debt on his home.

In addition to the above charges, Pena was additionally charged with “excessive taking enhancements for stealing over $200,000 in a transactions” and with an “aggravated white-collar crime enhancement for having stolen more than $100,000 while committing two or more related felonies,” according to the D.A.’s office. He also allegedly forged numerous signatures on the loans (loan fraud) and the deed of trust (notary fraud).

Read the original article in the Moorpark Patch.

Elk Grove Man Sentenced for Mortgage Fraud

February 23rd, 2012 at 3:44pm

Gabriel Viramontes, 49, of Elk Grove was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Edward Garcia to four years and nine months in prison. A jury convicted Viramontes in 2011 of bank fraud and mail fraud.

Viramontes was convicted after his partners, James Roy Martin and Mario Fellini III pleaded guilty in the $8 million mortgage fraud and rolled over on him. Martin and Fellini recruited straw buyers who submitted fabricated loan documents (loan fraud) in order to purchase 19 homes in Sacramento.

 Read the original article in the Sacramento Bee.

Pair Charged with Mortgage Fraud in Moorpark

February 17th, 2012 at 10:28am

A man and woman have been arrested and charged in a real estate fraud case  involving a Moorpark home.

Dominic Kardum, a prosecutor in the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office, announced that Antonio Pena, a resident of Moorpark, and Claudia Xochitl Gil, of San Fernando have been arraigned in connection with loans totaling $500,000 for the mortgage property.

Antonio Pena, 39, was charged with two counts of grand theft and one count of money laundering as well as an enhanced charge of stealing in excess of $100,000 while in the commission of at least two felonies. He used the identity of a straw buyer to acquire the loans (loan fraud, mortgage fraud).

Gil’s role was to forge signatures on the deal, for which she was charged with with three counts of forgery and to fraudulently notarize the deeds of trust, which resulted in two more counts of fraud related to a deed of trust (notary fraud). Gil holds a California real estate license and was a notary at one time.

Read the original article in the Ventura County Star.

© Copyright 2007-2014 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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