California Real Estate Fraud Report

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Archive for the 'Mortgage Elimination' Category

Operator of Mercury Business Group Pleads Guilty in Foreclosure Consultant Fraud Case

December 8th, 2016 at 5:39pm

Patrick Iturra, 46, of Canyon Lake, pleaded guilty to two counts of foreclosure consultant fraud and three counts of felony grand theft, according to Ventura County prosecutors.

Iturra, who operated a business called Mercury Business Group, was accused of promising homeowners he could save their properties from foreclosure if they paid him upfront fees.

In addition to facing a possible jail sentence, Iturra “will be ordered to pay restitution to the victims,” say prosecutors.

Read the original article in the Ventura County Star.

 

California man gets prison in Las Vegas mortgage fraud scam

October 28th, 2016 at 6:14am

Franklin Marquez, 52, has been sentenced to 4 to 12 years in prison for his involvement in a mortgage fraud scheme. He was convicted on one count of pattern of mortgage lending fraud, a category “B” felony.

Marquez and his co-defendants – Maria Lorena Anzu, Jose Ben Rodriguez and Gilberto Navidad , were alleged to have operated a criminal enterprise in Las Vegas called Majestic Group, LLC. Their pitch to distressed homeowners was that they could sell their homes to Majestic Group at market value and then the company would sell their homes back to them at lower, more affordable prices. The victims were charged upfront fees along with monthly payments.

Read the original article in News3LV.

No Justice, Say Victims of Petaluma Real Estate Agent in Mortgage Fraud

September 30th, 2016 at 7:46am

Victims of a Petaluma real estate agent whom prosecutors ripping off at least 100 persons in the  Bay Area in an alleged mortgage fraud scam are outraged at the terms of his settlement with state prosecutors.

Miguel Angel Lopez-Soleta, 44, pleaded no contest to felony grand theft and embezzlement from an elderly person through his Rohnert Park business, Mortgage Modifiers, in 2012.

Lopez-Soleta will only serve one year in jail and receive five years of probation.

According to former client Robert Gillis, whose mother lost her Novato home to foreclosure because of Lopez-Soleta, “It’s totally unacceptable. None of the victims agree with it. They are so upset.”

Caroline S. Chen, the deputy attorney general handling the case for Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, did not return a call Thursday seeking comment.

The only good bit of news is that the real estate license of Miguel Angel Lopez-Soleta has been revoked by the California Bureau of Real Estate.

Read the full article in the Press Democrat.

 

 

Aliso Viejo Man Pleads Guilty in Mortgage Modification Fraud

July 28th, 2016 at 5:33am

Aliso Viejo resident Charles Wayne Farris, 55, has pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges for his role as a sales manager in a mortgage modification fraud case that cost 1,500 people almost $9 million.

Farris’  co-conspirator, former attorney Ronald Rodis, had  previously pleaded guilty to a felony conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. A third defendant, Bryan D’Antonio, still awaits his turn at trial for nine counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

According to prosecutors, both Rodis Law Group and America’s Law Group used nationwide radio advertisements to portray themselves as a team of experienced attorneys that could negotiated lower-interests rates or principal balances.

“The defendants in this case preyed upon vulnerable homeowners facing the loss of their home and callously took advantage of what hope they had left,” said Deirdre L. Fike, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, in a statement last week.

Read the original article in the OC Register.

San Diego Brothers Sentenced to Prison for “Debt Elimination” Scheme, Short Sale Fraud

March 28th, 2016 at 5:53pm

Brothers and former real estate agents Adel and Atef Afkarian were sentenced to prison terms for operating a fraudulent “debt elimination” scheme as well as a complicated short sale fraud that ripped off lenders in the San Diego area.

Adel Afkarian was sentenced  to 18 months by U.S. District Judge John Houston and Atef Afkarian received 13 months. The judge ordered the brothers to pay more than $5.5 million in restitution to their victims. Their licenses had previously been revoked by the California Bureau of Real Estate.

After identifying underwater homeowners (including themselves), the Afkarians recorded fraudulent deeds (title fraud) that showed the loans on the properties had been extinguished. They then sold the properties to unaware buyers. The original mortgage lenders, who did not know about the fraudulent title documents, were not paid. This included their own $1.4 million mortgage.

At the same time, the Afkarians conspired to transact fraudulent short sales for underwater clients through a simultaneous “double escrow” scheme involving the use of straw buyers.

Read the original article in Fox 5 News.

Los Angeles Man Pleads Guilty to his Participation in a Mortgage Fraud Scheme

March 25th, 2016 at 8:45am

NEWS RELEASE
Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation
Los Angeles Field Office
Anthony J. Orlando, Acting Special Agent in Charge

Appearing before United States District Judge Otis D. Wright II, a Los Angeles man pleaded guilty this morning to one felony count arising from his role in a mortgage fraud scheme in which he failed to report the proceeds of the fraud on his income tax return.

Amaziah Yahalom, who also goes by Andre C. Page, 35, pleaded guilty to one count of tax evasion, admitting in court today that the mortgage fraud scheme in which he participated caused losses of $800,000 to WMC Mortgage and $425,000 to PHH Mortgage.

According to documents filed with the court, in 2005, after falling behind on his mortgage payments for his Beachwood Drive home in Los Angeles, co-schemer William Beard was referred to Yahalom and another unidentified co-defendant for assistance in eliminating his mortgage on the property. That scheme involved a series of false documents, including a fraudulent Full Reconveyance purportedly authorized by the lender that was instead signed by Beard’s two roommates.  The purpose of the Reconveyance was to make it appear as if Beard had paid off his mortgage through the false representation that Beard’s roommates were authorized to declare the mortgage satisfied.

In June of 2005, Yahalom obtained an $800,000 loan from WMC Mortgage through providing false information about his income and employment, and purchased Beard’s Los Angeles home.  Beard caused a payoff demand to be sent from the unidentified co-defendant’s company North West Capital for the false loan.  Based on that payoff demand, the escrow company sent $800,000 to North West Capital’s bank account in the state of Washington.  No proceeds were paid to Wells Fargo Mortgage, the true holder of the mortgage lien, because the title company did not recognize the Reconveyance as fraudulent and treated the Wells Fargo Mortgage lien as having been satisfied.  The $800,000 was divided amongst the co-schemers with Yahalom receiving $130,000.

Yahalom filed his 2005 tax return failing to report the $130,000 of scheme proceeds.

In a separate but similar scheme, in 2007, Beard introduced his friend John-Pierre Rivera to Yahalom and the unidentified co-defendant, so that Rivera could eliminate the mortgage on a property he owned on Division Street in Los Angeles.  Through the use of another false Reconveyance, Beard, Rivera, the unidentified co-defendant, and Yahalom caused a title company to believe that the first mortgage on the Division property had been satisfied.  An unsuspecting buyer offered to purchase Rivera’s real property and obtained a loan of at least $414,150 from PHH Mortgage.  The title company did not recognize that the Reconveyance was fraudulent and Rivera’s lender did not receive any proceeds from the sale of the Division property.  Again, the proceeds of the fraudulent loan were distributed amongst the co-defendants, with Yahalom receiving $130,000 in 2008.

The specific count to which Yahalom pleaded guilty today relates to the filing of his 2008 tax return.  Again, the fraudulent proceeds of the loan for the Division property were never reported to the IRS.  Yahalom failed to file his 2008 federal income tax return, thus never reporting the $130,000 of loan proceeds received as income in 2008.

For the 2005 and 2008 tax years, Yahalom evaded the payment of income tax of approximately $45,000.

In June of 2014, Beard received a sentence of 16 months imprisonment and was ordered to pay restitution of over $1.3 million for his role in the scheme.  In 2010, Rivera pleaded guilty to one count of tax evasion and is scheduled to be sentenced on June 6, 2016.

As a result of today’s guilty plea, Yahalom faces a statutory maximum sentence of 5 years in federal prison and fines up to $250,000 when he is sentenced on July 21, 2016.  He may also be ordered to pay restitution.

This investigation was conducted by IRS Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in conjunction with the United States Attorney’s Offices for the Central District of California and Western District of Washington.

71-Year-Old Man Sentenced to Long Prison Term for Operating Mortgage Elimination Scheme

March 11th, 2016 at 11:22am

Lonnie Glenn Schmidt, 71, who was convicted of real estate fraud relating to foreclosure consulting, has been sentenced to more than 24 years in prison,  according to the the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office. He was found guilty of 30 felony charges involving foreclosure consultant fraud, recording false documents, unauthorized use of personal identifying information, second-degree burglary, perjury, grand theft and attempted grand theft. Jurors also found that Schmidt was subject to out-on-bail, white-collar crime and property loss enhancements.

Prosecutors said that between 2009 and 2013, Schmidt promised homeowners in distress that he would eliminate their mortgages. The homeowners who signed up with Schmidt gave him control over their properties, which he then tried to use those properties as collateral for personal loans. He even attempted to sell them outright for his own profit, yet charged his victims rent to continue to remain in what they thought were their homes.

Read the original article published by the  Sacramento Count District Attorney’s Office.

Imprisoned Attorney Loses Suit, Must Pay Litigation Costs in Mortgage Fraud Case

February 12th, 2016 at 12:00pm

Attorney Mitchell Stein, already serving a 17-year prison sentence in Florida on multiple fraud, money laundering and conspiracy charges, has lost his case in which the State of California is seeking court costs.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Jane L. Johnson ruled that the mortgage fraud lawsuit filed by Attorney General Kamala Harris in 2011 against multiple entities entitled California to collect costs. Stein and other were accused of fraudulently taking millions of dollars from thousands of homeowners who thought they would receive help with their mortgages.

The case is The People of the State of California v. The Law Offices of Kramer and Kaslow PLC et al., case number LC094571, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles.

Here is a press release about Mitchell J. Stein.

Read the original article in Law360.

Employee of Star Reliable Mortgage Pleads Not Guilty in Foreclosure Fraud Scheme

January 29th, 2016 at 11:56am

Martin Calzada, 28, a former employee for Star Reliable Mortgage has pleaded not guilty in federal court after being charged by the Department of Justice with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and mail fraud.

Calzada is accused of charging homeowners facing foreclosure upfront fees between $2,500 to $4,500 in what the feds call a “loan elimination” scheme. He and other employees are alleged to have filed phony documents with the County Recorder’s office, replacing the homeowners’ names with trusts linked to himself and the company. The homeowners/clients were also told to stop making their mortgage payments, resulting in foreclosure actions.

Read the original article in the Visalia Times-Delta.

Update: Martin Calzada was convicted in March and is scheduled to be sentenced June 5.  He could receive 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

Seal Beach man pleads guilty to mortgage rescue fraud

October 22nd, 2015 at 2:56pm

Terry Meisinger, 74, pleaded guilty last week to two counts of wire fraud, admitting he defrauded a distressed homeowner by inducing him to sign a quitclaim. The quitclaim was purportedly in exchange for promises  by Meisinger that he would negotiate a short-sale agreement with the victim’s lender for a property located in North Las Vegas.

According to his please agreement, Meisinger instead recorded a deed of trust on the property, which was followed by a fraudulent bankruptcy on behalf of the person who supposedly now held an interest in the home. During the period of the bankruptcy stay, he rented the home to another person.

Meisinger admitted repeating “the process of causing the recording of deeds of trusts in the names of various beneficiaries whose identities he controlled and causing the filing of bankruptcies on behalf of those lenders to delay the foreclosure proceedings, while collecting rents.” Between 1999-2014, he “earned” over $1.5 million on his scheme, which involved approximately 150 properties and at least 50 victims, which included the borrowers/owners, lenders and tenants.

The prosecution of Terry Meisinger resulted from an investigation by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of the Inspector General (HUD-OIG).

Read the original article in the Press-Telegram.

© 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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