September 30th, 2016 at 7:29am
Sixty-one-year-old Gregoria Mendoza was sentenced by Ventura Superior Court Judge Ryan Wright to seven years and four months in state prison after she pleaded guilty to multiple counts of grand theft and one count of foreclosure consultant fraud.
Mendoza, a resident of Oak View, was also ordered to pay over $470,000 in restitution to her victims.
Mendoza operated six or more real estate investment schemes according to the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office, snagging investors from Ventura, Los Angeles and Tulare counties.
Read the full article in the VCStar / Ventura County Star.
September 16th, 2016 at 9:21am
SANTA ANA, California – A Utah man has been arrested for his role in a real estate fraud scheme in which Southern California investors collectively suffered nearly $3.5 million in losses.
Shawn Patrick Watkins, 46, of Layton, Utah, was taken into custody on September 1 when he surrendered to FBI agents in Orange County. Watkins had been charged with mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering in a nine-count indictment returned on August 17 by a federal grand jury.
Watkins and others offered investments in a company known as The Equity Growth Group (TEGG) between approximately 2007 through 2014. According to the indictment, the victims were solicited during seminars in Orange County hotels offered by Investor Workshops, Inc., in which Watkins presented himself as an expert in the field of real estate investment. In order to lend credibility to the scheme, Watkins attempted to gain trust by telling investors that he was formerly employed as a law enforcement officer.
As part of the solicitations, Watkins made omissions and false promises to investors. For example, the indictment alleges that Watkins falsely told investors that TEGG controlled hundreds of properties that generated rental income and TEGG would continue its growth by acquiring new properties. Watkins led investors to believe that they would receive substantial interest payments or that their money would be secured by collateral through the filing of deeds of trust on properties.
In reality, over the course of the several years, until the scheme collapsed in the spring of 2014, TEGG was not acquiring new properties and had a negative cash flow. Investor money was not used to acquire new properties, nor was it secured by collateral, and many victims did not receive interest payments. In fact, money that was paid to some victims as purported interest or a return on their investment came from investments made by other victims.
Read the rest of the press release from the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California.
August 11th, 2016 at 8:42pm
Michael Llamas, 31, of Tracy, and Peter Woodard, 48, of Ventura, pleaded guilty in federal court in Sacramento to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Llamas separately pleaded guilty to a count of concealment of a felony.
Llamas owned LW Premier Holdings LLC and Woodard owned Cobalt One LLC. They had rights to buy homes at discounts from builders in several states but purchased homes at full price without disclosing this to the lenders.
Loomis Wealth Solutions convinced investors to buy homes using their credit, which would then be rented out and managed, with the investors getting regular payments. Owner Lee Loomis was arrested in 2012 and charged with multiple counts of mail fraud and wire fraud. After pleading guilty in January 2016, he asked the court to withdraw his plea.
There are numerous articles on Lee Loomis and Loomis Wealth Solutions on earlier postings on the California Real Estate Fraud Report.
August 4th, 2016 at 9:08am
Real estate agent Alla Samchuk, 45, has been found guilty of six counts of bank fraud, six counts of making a false statement to a financial institution, one count of money laundering and one count of aggravated identity theft, according to a press release by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California.
Court documents revealed that from 2006 through 2008 Samchuk operated a mortgage fraud scheme involving three properties in the Sacramento area, specifically Roseville and El Dorado HIlls. Unable to qualify for a loan to make the purchases herself, Samchuk employed the services of straw buyers to apply for the loans. She caused the submission of loan applications containing false representations of income, employment, assets, and a false indication that the straw buyers would occupy the homes as their primary residence.
A second objective of the scheme was to obtain HELOC (home equity line of credit) funds. According to evidence at trial, on two of the properties, Samchuk diverted or attempted to divert HELOC funds to her own benefit. Samchuk caused the HELOC loans to fund by submitting false statements and documents to the lender regarding the qualifications of the straw buyers.
Turning against her own straw buyers, Samchuk filed an application for a HELOC on one of the properties without the straw buyer’s knowledge or consent (HELOC fraud). To obtain the HELOC, she forged the signature of the straw buyer on a short form deed of trust that she caused to be notarized and recorded. The stated purpose of the HELOC was home improvement, but once the line of credit was funded, Samchuk quickly diverted all of the funds to her own use, spending the proceeds on a Lexus and the repayment of a substantial personal debt.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Audrey B. Hemesath and Andre M. Espinosa prosecuted the case.
July 1st, 2016 at 11:28am
Fair Oaks home developer Mark Allen has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for a prosecution involving mortgage fraud.
Allen, 51, enticed people to buy houses he was building by paying them money. He and his company, Allen Development LLC, did not disclose the payments to the lenders. The prices of the homes were based on artificially high sales prices and the lending institutions ultimately lost over $1 million.
Read the original article in the Sacramento Business Journal.
June 17th, 2016 at 9:36am
Yorba Linda chiropractor Bobby Hamby has received a sentence of four years in prison for stealing over $2 million from investors.
Hamby, 56, who pleaded guilty in 2015 to two counts of wire fraud, must also pay more than $1.2 million in restitution to his victims.
Hamby’s business was called B+E Family Investments LLC. According to prosecutors, he solicited money from his victims, promising them he would buy and improve properties and resell them at a profit. Instead, he used the victims’ monies to pay his mortgage, dues at the Yorba Linda Country Club dues, car payments, attorney fees, medical and dental bills and other personal expenses.
Read the original article in the OC Register.
May 20th, 2016 at 10:14am
Coronado businessman Courtland Gettel and Arizona attorney Jeffrey Greenberg have pleaded guilty to raking in over $33.6 million by taking out fraudulent loans on expensive homes in Del Mar and La Jolla, according to federal prosecutors.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s office in San Diego, Gettel, 42, and Greenberg, 66, took out loans against as many as eight homes by then pretending previous loans had been paid off in order to secure more loans from new lenders. The new lenders were tricked by forged loan reconveyances that indicated that the homes were lien-free and then recorded the fraudulent documents at the San Diego County Recorder’s Office (title fraud). Because title was clouded as a result, when the men defaulted on the loans, there was confusion as to the secured interests of the lenders in the properties.
The names of the firms run by Courtland Gettel were Conix, Inc. and Variant Commercial Real Estate — VCRE.
Read the original article in the Coronado Patch.
May 12th, 2016 at 10:51am
Geana Or, a real estate agent from Lathrop, in San Joaquin County, has been arrested on suspicion of grand theft and elder abuse. Or, 46, who also uses the name Geana Lay.
Or / Lay will face prosecution in Santa Clara County by the Real Estate Fraud Unit with the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office.
Investigators found out about the alleged fraud after a 73-year-old Los Altos Hills resident reported that he was approached by his real-estate agent last year and proposed that he purchase two homes that were “supposedly approaching foreclosure” with the intent of flipping them for higher value in the future. Between January and March 2015, the agent, since identified as Or, convinced him to write 10 cashier’s checks in her name, totaling about $475,000.
Read the original article in Mercury News.
May 12th, 2016 at 10:38am
Ventura County District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced that Gregoria Mendoza, a former mortgage broker, has pleaded guilty to multiple counts of felony grand theft and foreclosure consultant fraud.
Prosecutors said that Mendoza, 60, created six separate real estate investment schemes and stole about $470,000 from victims in Ventura, Los Angeles and Tulare counties. She had told the victims their money would be invested in real estate projects but instead she spent the money on herself.
Mendoza also illegally charged one of the victims upfront/advance fees for a mortgage loan modification.
Read the original article in the Ventura County Star.
April 29th, 2016 at 1:16pm
John Packard is a convicted felon who caught a lucky break.
Packard, 66, is the co-founder of Irvine-based Pacific Property Assets, along with his former partner, CEO Michael J. Stewart, 68. In exchange for testifying against Stewart in a case in which prosecutors alleged that about 650 mostly elderly investors lost a total of $169 million in savings and retirement funds when PPA declared bankruptcy, Packard received only 2 1/2 years, whereas Stewart was sentenced to 14 years.
Packard’s luck is that he and his ex-wife, who is serving a life sentence for contracting the murder of her wealthy boyfriend William McLaughlin, have a 16-year old daughter. U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney granted the lenient sentence to Packard for his cooperation and lesser culpability than Stewart.
Read the original article in the Orange County Register.