California Real Estate Fraud Report

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Archive for the 'Real Estate Fraud' Category

An Important Supplemental Disciplinary Advisory from the California Bureau of Real Estate

March 24th, 2017 at 4:54am

The following is from an email alert from the California Bureau of Real Estate:

    Licensee Alert                 Issued March 2017

Supplemental Disciplinary Advisory to Real Estate Salespersons Who Mislead Consumers into Falsely Believing that They are Brokers — and a Concurrent Caution to the “[Ir]responsible” Brokers Who Permit or Support Such Practices

                       By Wayne S. Bell, California Real Estate Commissioner and

Mark Tutera, Special Investigator

 

In September 2015, the California Bureau of Real Estate (CalBRE) issued an advisory which was captioned “Disciplinary Warning to Real Estate Salespersons Who Act, Conduct Themselves, and/or Advertise as ‘Independent’ Real Estate Professionals — and a Simultaneous Caution to Brokers Who Allow or Support Such Practices”.

(http://www.calbre.ca.gov/files/pdf/adv/Independent%20Real%20Estate%20Professionals.pdf)

Licensees of CalBRE are well advised to review that prior advisory since we continue to see some of the same bad practices identified in that writing.

This discipline “advisory” is being issued as a supplement to that prior warning since CalBRE has taken notice of the use by some real estate salespersons of names and designations (and attendant Internet and marketing materials) that suggest to the public – and mislead consumers into falsely believing – that such salespersons are real estate brokers.

A scenario that we have repeatedly seen is the use by a salesperson (who for this illustration we will identify as John Doe) of a fictitious business name that would lead members of the public to incorrectly believe that the business is operated and managed by a real estate broker. In this example, salesperson Doe conducts business using the name Doe Real Estate.  Doe advertises using that business name, and the advertisements are connected to, or accompanied by, a webpage and other materials that extol the virtues of Doe Real Estate.  The public would not think that Doe is a salesperson who must be supervised by another, and would most certainly conclude that Doe Real Estate is a real estate broker or brokerage.  And the above practices are unlawful.

In addition to the above, many salespersons continue to brand and identify themselves as “independent” real estate practitioners, and they practice and advertise as such.  Unless those salespersons are operating as “teams”, in full compliance with the California laws and rules pertaining to teams (e.g., the disclosure of I.D numbers and the name of responsible broker, and the surname of at least one of the licensee members of the team along with the use of the terms “team”, “group” or associates” with regard to the team), that is unlawful as well.

Further, and depending on the specific language employed with respect to the name(s) and designation(s) used by the real estate salespersons, there might be a violation of the law relative to the use of fictitious names.  Please see the prior guidance given by CalBRE on the proper use and licensing of fictitious names.

As was also stated in the prior warning, under California law, with its two-tiered licensing system, real estate salespersons cannot provide – or advertise that they can provide – real estate services independently of their responsible brokers.

Likewise, salespersons must be associated or affiliated with, and be reasonably supervised by (which supervision includes broker review of the advertising used by the broker’s salesperson or salespersons pursuant to Commissioner’s Regulation 2725(e)) a responsible broker in order to engage in real estate licensed activities in California.  The law provides no exceptions.

CalBRE will take appropriate disciplinary action (including the imposition of significant fines, and  – where appropriate – the revocation of licensure) against real estate salespersons who engage in the unlawful activities discussed above, and against real estate brokers who permit their salespersons to engage in such activities.

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Former Roseville Real Estate Agent Sentenced to Prison for Forging Documents

March 2nd, 2017 at 10:54am

Alla Samchuk, 45, who was previously a licensed real estate agent, has been sentenced to nine years and six months in federal prison for mortgage fraud, identity theft and obstruction of justice. She was convicted last August.

According to prosecutors, from 2006 through 2008, Samchuk concocted a mortgage fraud involving two homes in Roseville and one in El Dorado Hills. Because she was unable to qualify for the loans, so she found straw buyers to apply for the loans in their own names. The applications contained false statements regarding income, employment and assets, including falsely representing that the straw buyers would occupy the homes.

Judge Garland Burrell Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California in Sacramento was the trial judge. He imposed the longer sentence because Samchuk had threatened a witness not to report her crimes.

You can read more about the history of the case by going to the U.S. Government Publishing Office.

Read the original article in the Sacramento Business Journal.

Lake Forest Woman Pleads Guilty to Ponzi Scheme in Real Estate Fraud Case

January 27th, 2017 at 10:02am

Fifty-five-year-old Angel Bronsgeest woman has pleaded guilty to federal charges of operating a real estate scam that resulted in Southern California investors losing $3.5 million, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.

Bronsgeest pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud, said the U.S. Attorney’s Office, admitting that she and Shawn Patrick Watkins solicited their victims at Orange County hotel seminars to invest in their company, called The Equity Growth Group, or TEEG. Their pitch was that TEEG managed hundreds of property and the rents they collected were used to purchase new properties. Investors could earn interest on their money, which was secured by the deeds of trust on the properties. But the U.S. Attorney’s Office said that TEEG was not acquiring new properties, had a negative cash flow and the investors who did receive “interest” payments received that money from funds Bronsgeest and Watkins solicited by new victims (Ponzi scheme).

Read the original article in the OC Register.

Read the press release by clicking on this link for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.

 

Cerritos Realtor® Arrested in Escrow Fraud Scheme in Alleged Short Sale Fraud Scheme

January 6th, 2017 at 10:15am

A Cerritos real estate broker was arrested for taking part in a two-year escrow fee scam that stole over $500,000 from over 30 victims.

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Mario Gonzalez, a licensed broker at MCR Escrow, located at 1800 Studebaker Road #700.

Gonzalez, 45, allegedly participated in a scam in which homes were fraudulently listed as short sales, investigators in the Sheriff’s fraud bureau said. Buyers were required to pay escrow fees to “secure” a property after they submitted their bids. None of the sales closed, yet the buyers’ fees were not returned to them.

Mario Gonzalez has also been reported to RipoffReport.com, presumably by some of his unhappy customers.

Investigators are looking for other victims and can contact Detective Keith Clark at 562-946-7217.

In the meantime, Gonzalez is being held in lieu of a $70,000 bail at the Norwalk Sheriff Station.

Read the original article in Los Cerritos News.

Yorba Linda Man Sentenced to 4 Years in Real Estate Fraud Scheme

January 6th, 2017 at 10:00am

Andres Oman Pacheco, 40, has been sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to the following crimes in a real estate fraud case:

Two counts of grand theft, both felonies
Admitting a sentencing enhancement allegation for aggravated white collar crime exceeding $500,000

The victims put money on deposit to buy property and when the deals fell through Pacheco would not refund the money, McFetridge said.

Pacheco was the owner of Santa Ana-based Franklin Equity Corporation/Signature Escrow, according to Senior Deputy District Attorney George McFetridge. His victims had entrusted him with $540,000 to invest in properties. When the sales failed to close, Pacheco refused to return their money.

Read the original article in the OC Register.

 

Santa Maria Men Charged in Real Estate Fraud of Short Sale Properties

December 16th, 2016 at 12:09pm

Two men have been charged by the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office  with allegedly committing real estate fraud that cost Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac at least $500,000.

Angelo Gabriel Naemi, 36, was charged with five counts of grand theft by false pretenses, and one count of conspiracy to commit grand theft. Steven Paul Gonzales, 61, was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit grand theft.
“The complaint alleges that Naemi, a real estate salesperson, and Gonzales, a real estate broker, conspired to falsify documents in association with numerous short sale transactions,” the District Attorney’s Office said.  The complaint against both men also includes special allegations for aggravated white collar crime and excessive losses.

Gonzales became sole owner of CornerStone Real Estate in Santa Maria in 2012 while Naemi is listed as a sales associate with the firm which has an office at 411 E. Betteravia Road, Suite 101.

Read the original article on Noozhawk.

Vacaville Man Seeks New Trial after Being Convicted in Real Estate Fraud Case

December 8th, 2016 at 5:50pm

Richard D. Lamphere, 53, who was found guilty by a jury in September on four of five charges in relation to a real estate fraud case, has indicated through his new attorneys his intent to seek a new trial.

The case against Lamphere dates back more than 10 years and concerns two men who were defrauded out of more than a combined $1.3 million in an Oroville real estate scheme. Both men gave Lamphere their money in the hopes that they would profit from Lamphere’s real estate investment project. Prosecutors, however, presented evidence that he used the victims’ investment money for his personal use.

One of the men, sued  Richard Lamphere in civil court and was awarded $1.9 million. This proceeded the filing of criminal charges by the Solano County District Attorney’s Office.

Read the original article in TheReporter.com.

 

Contra Costa County Investors Plead Guilty to Conspiracy to Rig Auction Bids

November 18th, 2016 at 10:08am

California real estate investors John Michael Galloway and Nicholas Diaz have each pleaded guilty to one count of bid rigging in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in Oakland today.

According to court documents, between June 2008 and January 2011, the two men agreed and conspired with others not to bid against one another, instead setting up a private bidding system. The purpose of that was to suppress competition and to acquire properties at non-competitive prices.

Thus far, 59 persons have either pleaded guilty or agreed to plead guilty in bid rigging at public real estate foreclosure auctions in San Francisco, San Mateo, Contra Costa and Alameda counties.

These investigations are being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s San Francisco Office and the FBI’s San Francisco Office, in connection with the president’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.

Rocklin Man Pleads Guilty in Mortgage Fraud Involving 31 Properties

November 18th, 2016 at 10:01am

Aleksandr Kovalev, 53, has pleaded guilty in federal court to wire fraud involving financial institutions.

Kovalev, a developer was in the Sacramento, Fairfield and Stockton areas, had been accused of making incentive payments to home buyers through “down payment assistance.” This was done outside of escrow and was not disclosed to the lenders, who were not aware that the effect was to substantially reduce the actual sales price.

Already, five of Aleksandr Kovalev’s co-defendants have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced. They are Jannice Riddick, 34, of Sacramento, two years and 11 months in prison; Florence Francisco, 65, of Houston, one year in prison; Adil Qayyum, 34, of Rosele Ill., three years of probation; Elsie Pamela Fuller, 41, of Richmond, one year and nine months in prison; and Leona Yeargin, 49, of San Pablo, 18 months in prison.

Valeriy Vasilevitsky and Ruth Willis have also pleaded guilty and await sentencing.

The case resulted from an investigation by the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service.

Read the original article in the Sacramento Bee.

Rancho Cucamonga Man Who Fraudulently Sold Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Properties Sentenced

November 11th, 2016 at 12:25pm

Mazen Alzoubi, 33, a real estate investor who authorities described as being the ringleader of a Southern California scheme that defrauded banks and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac was sentenced in San Diego federal court Monday to six years, three months in prison.

According to prosecutors in the U.S. Attorneys Office for the Southern District of California, Alzoubi stole home titles from the rightful corporate owners and then sold them to unsuspecting buyers (title fraud). He did this by forging documents to make it seem the properties had been sold to one of his businesses and then he recorded the bogus documents at various county recorders’ offices, “earning” $2.2 million from the mortgage fraud.

Alzoubi pleaded guilty in January to five counts including conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and conspiracy to launder money.

“The strength of our housing market and public confidence in our economy depends on strong enforcement efforts to root out schemes like this,” U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said in a statement. “The lengthy sentence in this case is a loud, clear message to anyone inclined to prey on the fallout from the devastating economic meltdown.”

Read the original article in the San Diego Tribune.

 

© 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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