California Real Estate Fraud Report

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Archive for the 'Real Estate Crimes' Category

Walnut Creek man sentenced for $21 million real estate investment fraud

April 23rd, 2015 at 3:14pm

Sixty-year-old Benny Chetcuti Jr. has been sentenced to more than four years in prison for operating a real estate investment fraud scheme. He must also pay over $21.8 million in restitution for the losses he caused.

Chetcuti convinced investors to loan money to his firm, Chetcuti & Associates, telling them their investments were backed by properties. Although the firm’s business was to buy, renovate and re-sell homes (“flipping”), he did so by forging deeds purportedly written by lenders and title company officers.

Read the original article in the Contra Costa Times and the office of U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag.

Modesto man pleads guilty to Guatemalan real estate investment scam

April 22nd, 2015 at 7:26am

Modesto resident Kenneth Manuel Martin, 66, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud.

According to the offices of United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner, Martin convinced individuals to invest money with him, telling them their monies would be used to fund mortgage loans to home buyers in Guatemala. Their investments were to be secured by grant deeds secured by Guatemalan real estate. The inducement was high interest rates of return.

This case was investigated jointly by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorneys Henry Z. Carbajal III and Grant B. Rabenn are prosecuting the case.

Read the original article in the Imperial Valley News.

Modesto man pleads guilty to real estate investment fraud

April 22nd, 2015 at 7:11am

The law has caught up with Ralph Leyva, 62, who just pleaded guilty to fraud and will be sentenced to four years in prison.

Leyva defrauded investors out of $350,000 in 2011 whom he conned into buying six properties in San Diego through a company called California REO Services LLC.

A Modesto man who swindled at least $350,000 from real estate investors pleaded guilty Tuesday to fraud charges in exchange for a four-year prison sentence.

Leyva, who used the aliases of George Anderson and Andrew Taylor, was investigated by the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office real estate fraud unit in cooperation with the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees fraud claims involving Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Read the original article in the Modesto Bee.

Two Jara Brothers Investments defendants plead guilty to mortgage fraud

April 15th, 2015 at 8:57am

Defendants Lucia Chavez, 37, and her husband Joseph Chavez, 41, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, mail fraud, and wire fraud, in relation to their business dealings with Jara Brothers Investments (JBI) in Bakersfield.

U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced that Lucia Chavez agreed to a personal forfeiture money judgment of $1,624,450 and Joseph Chavez agreed to a personal forfeiture money judgment of $3,092,000 as part of their plea bargain. Both defendants with be sentenced in mid-July 2015.

JBI was owned by Lucia Chavez‘ brothers Eliseo Jara and Sergio Jara, who were co-defendants in this case. The conspirators committed mortgage fraud against lenders by assisting straw buyers to purchase properties developed by Pershing Partners LLC, which was owned by Lucia Chavez, and Jara Brothers Investments. The lenders neither knew that the conspirators funded the straw buyers‘ down-payments themselves and intentionally submitted false information to the lenders about the financial assets, employment status and bank accounts.

The remaining seven co-defendants have all previously pleaded guilty in this case. Co-defendant Antonio Perez-Marcial was sentenced on May 12, 2014 to 3 years and 10 months in prison for his role in the conspiracy. Co-defendants Eliseo Jara, Sergio Jara, Arlene Mojardin, and Candace Gonzales each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, mail fraud, and wire fraud, and are scheduled to be sentenced on the following dates: May 18, 2015 (Arlene Mojardin), June 8, 2015 (Candace Gonzales), and June 22, 2015 (Eliseo Jara and Sergio Jara). Co-defendant Melissa Jara pleaded guilty to wire fraud and is to be sentenced on June 22, 2015. Co-defendant Ricardo Salinas previously pleaded guilty to bank fraud, and his sentencing is set for June 29, 2015.

The Jara Brothers Investments case was jointly investigated by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kirk E. Sherriff, Henry Z. Carbajal III, and Megan A.S. Richards were the prosecutors.

Read the original article in KERO 23ABC News.

Marin County mortgage broker pleads guilty in investment fraud

April 8th, 2015 at 8:33am

A Marin County, California, mortgage broker pleaded guilty last month to 14 federal counts related to a $2.4 million scheme to defraud investors.

Paul Sloane Davis, a 75-year old mortgage broker, pleaded guilty in March to 14 federal counts in relation to a $2.4 million real estate investment fraud.

Davis operated D.M. Financial along with Diane Cobb, 57, who pleaded guilty in July 2014.  U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said the pair diverted investor funds for their own use or to make interest payments to prior investors (Ponzi schemes). The investment opportunity was to provide short-term financing to borrowers for their real estate transactions.

Read the original article in

Modesto resident Xue Heu pleads guilty to elaborate distressed real estate fraud

March 31st, 2015 at 3:27pm

According to an article in the Modesto Bee, Xue Heu, 38, who conned over $1.26 million from investors in California and Texas, pleaded guilty on Monday to two counts of wire fraud.

Heu and Thomas Dickey Price, 72,  posed as representatives of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac who were selling foreclosed homes through their companies Liquid Assets & Land Investments Inc. and Capital Land Investments LLC. The homes had already been sold but the pair used forged deeds (title fraud) and other fraudulent documents in order to fool their victims.

Heu used the alias Michael Chan and Price used the names Albert Martin and Matt Taylor.

A third conspirator, Carla Lee Miller, signed a plea arrangement earlier this month.

Xue Heu will be sentenced in June in Fresno. If he pays restitution to his victims of $403,469 he could receive less than the 20 year sentence for which he is eligible.

The case was investigated by the FBI and the ace team at the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office real estate fraud unit.

Read a copy of the plea agreement Xue Heu made with the Office of U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner.

San Jose woman sentenced for real estate Ponzi scheme

March 26th, 2015 at 7:51am

The office of United States Attorney Melinda Haag announced that Joyce Esther De Armero was sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison and ordered to pay restitution for mail fraud in a real estate investment fraud case.

De Armero, 37, pleaded guilty on December 4, 2014, to mail fraud and admitted that she conned investors into giving her money to invest in high-interest real estate loans with guaranteed returns between July 2008 and January 2010.  She confessed that she made no investments but spent the money on herself, other than using some of the funds from the later investors to re-pay the earlier ones, in order to keep her Ponzi scheme operating.

Read the original article in the Imperial Valley News.

Man pleads guilty in title fraud, property flipping case

March 26th, 2015 at 7:43am

According to U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy, Daniel Deaibes has pleaded guilty for his role in a scheme to flip houses by first stealing the title to homes in Southern California.

In his plea agreement, Deaibes admitted that between September 2012 and November 2014 he and two alleged co-conspirators fraudulently sold or attempted to sell at least 10 homes for more than $2.3 million. Deaibes admitted that he and the alleged co-conspirators, one of whom owned several real estate businesses, would record fraudulent grant deeds at the county recorders’ offices and then immediately attempt to sell the properties to unsuspecting buyers.

The scheme unraveled when Fannie Mae, the owner of one of the properties, discovered the fraud and attempted to regain title. In response, Deaibes and the others created a fake “Withdrawal of Lis Pendens” in an effort to proceed with the fraudulent sale. Even after Fannie Mae won a court judgment, the co-conspirators recorded a fraudulent “Satisfaction of Judgment”.

Read the full article in

Three Jara family members plead guilty to Bakersfield mortgage fraud

March 17th, 2015 at 5:23pm

Bakersfield residents Eliseo Jara Jr., 35, and his brother, Sergio Jara, 33, have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, mail fraud, and wire fraud in a $5.6 million mortgage fraud case. Sergio Jara’s wife, Melissa Jara, 34, pleaded guilty to wire fraud in the same case, according to the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California.

According to prosecutors, from 2007 to 2010, the Jara brothers, who owned Jara Brothers Investments, conspired with other persons to use straw buyers to purchase residential properties in Bakersfield they had developed with Pershing Partners LLC. Straw buyers were paid to purchase the properties from the two firms and they were funded by submitting false documentation to the lenders. Melissa Jara admitted she had submitted fraudulent loan documents to a lender on behalf of a straw buyer in order to finance a property she owned in an LLC.

All three defendants have agreed to financial restitution and relinquishing six properties as part of their sentences, which have yet to be set.

This case is the product of a joint investigation by the Internal Revenue Service‑Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kirk E. Sherriff, Henry Z. Carbajal III, and Megan A. S. Richards are prosecuting the case.

Four of the Jara’s co-defendants who have already pleaded guilty are Antonio Perez-Marcial (46 months in prison); Arlene Mojardin (awaiting sentencing); Candace Gonzales (awaiting sentencing); and  Ricardo Salinas (awaiting sentencing).

Read the original article in KERO 23ABC News.

Former bank president pleads guilty in short sale fraud case

March 17th, 2015 at 4:42pm

The following is a press release from SIGTARP:

WASHINGTON, DC - Christy Romero, Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP), and Pamela C. Marsh, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, today announced that Michael “Sean” Davis, 43, of Crestview, Fla., pleaded guilty on March 13, 2015, to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and mail fraud; conspiracy to commit money laundering; making false statements to a federally insured institution; and fraudulently benefitting from a loan by a federally insured institution.

Between January 2006 and January 2011, while the president of Premier Community Bank of the Emerald Coast, Davis devised a scheme to defraud Premier Community Bank, Bank of America, and Beach Community Bank. As a part of the scheme, Davis solicited a straw buyer to submit false documents to purchase real properties via short sales from Bank of America. At Davis’ direction, the straw buyer then sold the properties the same day to third-party buyers. Davis authorized and approved loans from Premier Community Bank to these third-party buyers for the purchase of two of these properties from Davis’ straw buyer. As a result of these loans, Davis received approximately $297,408 through his company, MSD Investments. Through this scheme, Davis discharged approximately $743,425 in debt he owed to Bank of America for mortgage loans issued to Davis personally.

Sentencing is scheduled for May 28, 2015, before Chief United States District Judge M. Casey Rodgers at the United States Courthouse in Pensacola, Fla.

The case was investigated by Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation with assistance from SIGTARP, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General, and the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office as part of the Northwest Florida Financial Crimes Task Force.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Tiffany H. Eggers.

This prosecution was brought in coordination with President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, which was established to wage an aggressive and coordinated effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. SIGTARP is a member of the task force and co-chairs the Rescue Fraud Working Group. To learn more about the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, please visit

© Copyright 2007-2015 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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