California Real Estate Fraud Report

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Archive for the 'Real Estate Investment Fraud' Category

Owner of Investment Group Indicted in Ponzi Scheme

April 26th, 2011 at 10:23am

Sacramento resident Garry Bradford, 62, has been indicted for wire fraud in a real estate investment fraud case.

Bradford owned and operated a real estate investment club called Millenium Capital Group, Inc. Investors were told their money would be used to purchase real estate but Garry Bradford allegedly did little investing. As is typical in a Ponzi scheme, many of the newer investors’ funds were used to pay the earlier investors, who were promised 18 percent returns.

Read the original article in the Sacramento Bee.

Granite Bay Man Arrested, Charged in Ponzi Scheme

April 26th, 2011 at 10:16am

Royce Newcomb, 49, of Granite Bay,  has been arraigned on wire fraud charges in connection with a Ponzi scheme that solicited investors to put money into purchasing foreclosed homes (real estate investment fraud).

Newcomb’s ploy to convince the investors his operation was legitimate was to tell them he was placing their funds into escrow with Contour Escrow Services Inc. Contour Escrow Services Inc. was run by Barry Winnett, who holds a real estate salesperson’s license but does not have a license to run an escrow business. Barry Winnett pleaded guilty to wire fraud in December 2010 and is awaiting a possible 20 year prison term when he is sentence in June.

The Placer County Sheriff turned over the case to the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate and prosecute.

Read the original article in the Roseville Press Tribune.

Paso Robles Brokers Charged with Real Estate Investment Fraud

April 19th, 2011 at 6:49pm

Paso Robles lenders Rod Jarmin and Tammy Jordan have been charged with seven counts of embezzlement and fraud in a real estate investment fraud scheme that may have cost the investors $30 million.

Jarmin and Jordan, both licensed real estate brokers, operated Real Property Lenders (RPL) in Paso Robles and allegedly solicited investors – many of them seniors (elder financial fraud) to purchase securities for projects that the RPL owners knew were in danger of failing.  Rod Jarmin’ s real estate license was revoked in 2003 but reinstated in 2007. Tammy Jordan‘s license shows no disciplinary action.

The California Department of Corporations (DOC) began investigating RPL in 2007 and revoked its license to sell securities in June 2008. Following the DOC action, the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s office initiated its own inquiry into RPL after it received complaints about the firm’s practices.

Read the original article in the Cal Coast News.

Default Judgment Entered Against Broker David Sparks

April 1st, 2011 at 8:50am

Because Irvine real estate investment broker David R. Sparks did not respond to a lawsuit filed by a married couple against him for fraud, a default civil judgment has been entered by a federal court clerk against him.

Marc Vaccaro and Astrid Vanzon, a Wisconsin couple, filed suit against Sparks for the $1.6 million in actual losses they sustained and another $1 million for the “false profits” Sparks told them they had earned. 

David R. Sparks is a former Irvine Planning Commissioner.

Read the original article in the OC Register.

There is an earlier article about David R. Sparks in the California Real Estate Fraud Report.

Thousand Oaks Real Estate Broker Pleads Guilty to Ponzi Scheme

April 1st, 2011 at 8:43am

A real estate broker in Thousand Oaks has chosen to plead guilty to wire fraud and mail fraud in a real estate investment fraud scheme that ripped off over 100 investors for $18.9 million.

Louis “Jim” Borstelmann, 68, has admitted that he was running nothing more than a Ponzi scheme when he solicited money from his neighbors and a number of investors in Oregon. One Oregon woman lost $900,000 as a result of being defrauded by Borstelmann.

If Borstelmann’s sentence is at least 108 months, the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office will not prosecute him for the local crimes, according to Miles Weiss, a senior deputy district attorney for the D.A.’s Real Estate Fraud Unit. It was the IRS and FBI that conducted most of the investigation against Borstelmann.

Louis Borstelmann’s real estate license with the DRE currently shows no disciplinary action.

Read the original article in the Ventura County Star.

Santa Cruz Woman Charged in Prolific Real Estate Investment Fraud

March 25th, 2011 at 8:51am

Tara Denis Bonelli, 31, has been arrested by the FBI and charged by a federal grand jury of 18 counts of wire fraud, one count of mail fraud, and three counts of money laundering.

Bonelli owned and operated up to 10 firms that constituted a one-stop shop in real estate: everything from investing to foreclosure assistance. According to the indictment, she used several properties she owned as collateral to solicit investors for non-existent real estate property purchases. Just as noxious, she hired persons to door-knock homeowners in distress and amazingly convinced some of them to sign blank real estate contracts.

Read the original article in RealEstateRama.

Real Estate Fraud Charges Against Mountain View Investment Company

March 25th, 2011 at 8:39am

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has filed charges against Mountain View-based JSW and five of its officers. The officers are accused in a $17 million real estate investment fraud scam in which investors’ monies were diverted to fund the officers’ own real estate investments.

The named firms are JSW and its predecessor, Jim Ward & Associates, Blue Chip Realty Fund and Shoreline Investment Fund.

The defendants are JSW founder James Ward, 64, of Delaware, Ohio; former Jim Ward & Associates president David Lee 53, (Los Altos); former JSW president Edward Locker, 35 (Highland Heights, Ohio); former JSW vice president Richard Tipton, 60 (Palo Alto); and JSW general counsel David Lin, 42 (Los Altos).

May of the victims-investors are seniors (elder financial fraud).

Read the original article in the Silicon Valley Mercury News.

Former Irvine Planning Commissioner Accused in Real Estate Fraud

March 18th, 2011 at 10:36am

A real estate broker who was formerly a member of the Irvine Planning Commission is being sued by a married couple, a high school friend and a father and son who say he solicited money from them for real estate investments he never made.

David R. Sparks, 50, is a long-time broker and owns Irvine-based firm Sparks Realty & Investment Inc. The couple, Marc Vaccaro and Astrid Vanzon, say Sparks flew out to Wisconsin to meet them and “talked about his religious faith, and shared values in a Christian tradition, which added to (their) belief in defendant’s trustworthiness,” according to their federal lawsuit, which accuses Sparks of  forging bank and government documents and using nonexistent escrow companies to commit fraud. They are claiming $1.6 million in damages.

Robert Edwin Anslow of Santa Ana is the now-former friend who is suing David Sparks. Gary Schultz and his father Gerhard Schultz have also filed suit against Sparks. All the parties claim that Sparks solicited money from them for real estate investments that were not made (real estate investment fraud).

Here is David Spark’s website for Sparks Realty & Investments, Inc.

Note: the California Department of Real Estate (DRE) does not show any actions taken against David Spark’s real estate license.

Read the original article in the OCRegister / Orange County Register.

Lawsuit Alleges Fraud by Westlake Village Attorney and Business Partner

March 15th, 2011 at 11:22pm

A lawsuit filed by a Westlake Village attorney against another Westlake Village attorney and his Agoura Hills partner alleges the two men perpetrated a multi-state real estate loan scam.

Attorney Anne Singer is representing Gerard Kennedy, who paid 27 year old Nicolaus Skultety, owner of the now defunct American Paramount Financial, and his attorney Lloyd Michaelson of Lloyd Michaelson Law Offices a $300,000 deposit in order to obtain a $15 million loan that never materialized. Kennedy, owner of the Virginia-based Attiva Corporation, Inc. lost his deposit. Kennedy’s lawsuit charges Skultety and Michaelson  with fraud, breach of contract and negligent representation.

According to an article in the Acorn, Skultety and Michaelson are accused of promising clients they could obtain funding for land and construction projects - considered risk investments - in exchange for “a percentage of the loan amount, generally a 2% cut.” The cash fees were paid through Skultety’s firm but the loans were never made.

Interestingly, Singer read on a blog that Michaelson and Skultety had allegedly defrauded many victims and reported them to the FBI and other federal agencies. “I’m willing to put money down that (Skultety and Michaelson) will be indicted,” Singer said.

Read the original article in the Thousand Oaks Acorn.

Stewart Title Settles with Kelly Gearhart Investors

March 15th, 2011 at 10:54pm

Stewart Title has settled a lawsuit filed by investors of bankrupt North County developer Kelly Gearhart. Stewart Title was sued by 300 of Gearhart’s investors by the law firm of Kirby, Noonan, Lance and Hoge, which accused it of conspiring with Gearhart and Hurst Financial, Inc. to defraud the investors in a real estate investment fraud scheme. The plaintiffs will receive approximately 27% of their investments.

Kelly Gearhart, who no longer lives in California, is the subject of a federal investigation into racketeering, money laundering and mail fraud, as is Jay Miller, the president of Hurst Financial. According to Cal Coast News, more than 1,200 investors, many of them elderly, invested more than $100 million with Hurst Financial that cannot be found.

Read the original article in the Cal Coast News. You can also read more details in earlier postings of the California Real Estate Fraud Report.

© Copyright 2007-2014 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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