California Real Estate Fraud Report

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Archive for the 'Real Estate Investment Fraud' Category

Convicted in real estate investment fraud, man arrested again

November 13th, 2015 at 11:54am

Xue Heu, who already had been sentenced to over five years for running a Modesto-based real estate investment scam, is in trouble again.

While awaiting his sentenced, Heu, aka Michael Chan, was arrested by local authorities for stealing from new victims.

Heu and co-defendant Thomas Dickey Price, 73, also of Modesto, falsely posed as agents of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to sell distressed properties, all of which had already been sold. Their company was called Liquid Assets & Land Investments Inc. and Capital Land Investments LLC.

A third defendant, Mark Steven Thompson, 37, of Oakdale built the websites for Heu to lure investors and set-up email and bank accounts.

Read the original article in the Modesto Bee.

Two women plead guilty to conning victims in phony real estate investment scheme

November 6th, 2015 at 8:13am

Loan Thituong Nguyen, 46, of Westminster and Lynn Eichenberger, 45, of Chatsworth, have accepted deals from Orange County Superior Court Judge Kazuharu Makino.

According to Deputy District Attorney Pete Pierce, sentencing is scheduled for February 19 so that probation officers can prepare their findings on the women and to find out if they have paid any restitution. Nguyen has paid $150,000 and her insurance company has paid $300,000 but Eichenberger has made no payments. Given that they were accused of cheating their victims out of $3,000,000 that’s not much restitution.

The two ran a scheme in which Lynn Eichenberger recruited investors to give her and Nguyen money to purchase foreclosed properties, none of which ever occurred. Loan Thituong Nguyen was a licensed real estate broker who managed Suncoast Mortgage Corp. and Suncoast Investment Realty. She surrendered her license in 2013; documents surrounding the investigation of her activities can be found on the California Bureau of Real Estate website.

Read the original article in the Northridge-Chatsworth Patch.


West Hills securities broker sentenced for real estate investment scam

October 22nd, 2015 at 3:39pm

Jonathan Greenfield, 50, of West Hills, has been sentenced to 18 months in federal prison by U.S. District Court Judge Dale S. Fischer.

Greenfield pleaded guilty in December 2013 to two counts of wire fraud after admitting that he misled clients at his brokerage Morgan Peabody about a real estate investment fund called the Sherwood Secured Investment Fund.

The fund was created by David A. Williams, the former chief executive at Morgan Peabody. Williams, who admitted using much of the investors’ money for his own use, also pleaded guilty but has not been sentenced yet.

Read the original article in the Los Angeles Business Journal.

Lender for Kelly Gearhart gets 7 years for role in the Ponzi scheme

October 22nd, 2015 at 3:10pm

James Hurst Miller, 67, a North County lender who was a middleman for developer Kelly Gearhart, has been sentenced to seven years in federal prison for his participation in the Ponzi scheme that defrauded hundreds of area investors, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.

Miller had agreed to testify against Gearhart, who was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison last July.

Gearhart was a prominent developer and former Atascadero Citizen of the Year who began committing fraud in 2004, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Miller helped Gearhart raise money from investors with his firm, Hurst Financial Corp. for large developments, such as Vista Del Hombre, a Paso Robles golf course. Eventually, both men misused the investors’ money, spending it on themselves.

Read the original article in the San Luis Obispo Tribune.

There are many earlier postings about this case that you can find by searching the California Real Estate Fraud Report.


Newman man operating phony real estate investment program ordered to prison

September 22nd, 2015 at 8:17am

Sixty-three-year-old Ralph Leyva has been sentenced to four years in prison after pleading no contest to charges related to conducting a real estate scam.

According to prosecutors in the  Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office, Leyva defrauded his investors by promising them he would sell them bulk REO (foreclosed) properties from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac at a 30% discount, when in fact he was transferring the money from his phony businesses to a personal account. As a result, the court ordered him to pay restitution to his victims.

Ralph Leyva’s case was investigated by the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office real estate fraud unit and the Federal Housing Finance Agency-Office of Inspector General.

Read the original article in the Modesto Bee.

Heaven Investments director sentenced to prison

September 17th, 2015 at 10:15am

Ken Sarna, 50, the director of operations for Heaven Investments Holding Corp.,  has been sentenced by U.S. District Judge Troy Nunley to two years and six months in prison for a count of selling unregistered securities.

Heaven Investments Holding Corp. was based in Carmichael and raised up to $30 million through its website and investor forums. The investment money was supposed to be placed into a real estate exchange program but the company did not have a license to sell the investments.

Heaven Investments was family-owned and operated by Akbar Bhamani, and his sons Zain Bhamani and Aly Bhamani, both of whom were vice presidents. For their roles, the Bhamanis also received prison sentences.

The case was investigated by the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation; the prosecutor was Assistant United States Attorney Michele Beckwith from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California.

Read the original article in the Sacramento Business Journal.

Operators of “Indestructible Wealth Bootcamp” target of SEC for investor fraud

September 17th, 2015 at 9:54am

Paul Ricky Mata, David Kayatta and Mario Pincheira are on the receiving end of civil fraud charges by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which accuses the men of diverting money given to them for investments for their own personal use and for unrelated business ventures. The SEC has obtained an asset freeze and a preliminary injunction against the trio as part of its action.

In a separate action, the California Department of Business Oversight filed a $20 million securities lawsuit in state courts.

The SEC claims that Paul Mata ran the scam through his companies Secured Capital Investments, Logos Wealth Advisors, Lifetime Enterprises and Logos Real Estate Holdings. Solicitations by Mata, Kayata and Pincheira are alleged to have raised $14 million for two unregistered real estate funds by posting videos to YouTube channel with titles such as “Finances God’s Way” and “Indestructible Wealth.”

Mata, previously a financial advisor for Ameriprise Financial, has an  “extensive disciplinary history,” according to the SEC.

Read the original article in Financial Advisor Magazine.


Orange County “home flipper” pleads guilty to defrauding investors

August 28th, 2015 at 9:18am

William Yotty, a self-proclaimed real estate investor of foreclosed homes that he “flipped” has pleaded guilty to mail fraud and wire fraud, both federal felonies.

Yotty lured his 240 investors by promising, through his former company Fortuno Inc., insane profits. A brochure distributed by Fortuno claimed it could show the investors “how to take $400 and turn it into $25,000 in the next 30 days.” The investors, who in total lost $14 million, said instead that Yotty purchased the foreclosed homes by himself and resold them to the investors at inflated prices.

The case was prosecuted the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.

Read the press release on the U.S. Attorney’s website.

“Opportunity Fund” co-owner

August 17th, 2015 at 10:02am

The jury hearing the prosecution of the co-owner of a former real estate firm was convicted of operating a Ponzi scheme that cost the investors up to $169 million.

Michael J. Stewart, 68, the partner of co-defendant John Packard, was found guilty of 11 counts of mail fraud. U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney granted a motion by federal prosecutors to dismiss charges related to bank and bankruptcy fraud.

John Packard pleaded guilty in the same case in November 2014 and is awaiting his sentence.

Stewart and Packard ran Pacific Property Assets, which had offices in Long Beach and Irvine. Their business model, called the Opportunity Fund, was buying and flipping distressed apartment buildings. They lured investors by telling them they could earn 15-30% interest per month when former homeowners needed to rent apartments after their houses were foreclosed.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua Robbins.


Read the original article in the Press-Telegram.

Ponzi scheme or real estate investment gone bad?

July 29th, 2015 at 5:19pm

Just a few short months after soliciting investors by mail, the CEO of Pacific Property Assets (PPA) in Irvine filed bankruptcy.

Now, Michael J. Stewart is standing trial on 11 counts of fraud after his “Opportunity Fund,” which took in $91 million from 650 investors collapsed. Investors were lured in by mailers telling them their money would be used to acquire apartment buildings a bit over half their replacement costs.

Stewart, 68, argued that PPA failed as a result of the housing and economic recession, but prosecutors say otherwise, saying PPA made money from the appreciation of the 50 apartment buildings it owned in Long Beach, Riverside and Arizona, which it refinanced. When the economy stalled in 2008, lenders stopped refinancing and, according to U.S. Attorney Joshua Robbins, the company turned to funding by individual investors, whose money was used to pay back previous investors, as well as salaries and expenses for Stewart and John J. Packard, 65, his partner.

The lenders lost about $24 million when the apartment buildings defaulted on the mortgages.

Read the original article in the Orange County Register.


© 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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