California Real Estate Fraud Report

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Archive for the 'Real Estate Investment Fraud' Category

Man at Center of $142 Million Real Estate Fraud Goes on Trial

April 18th, 2012 at 1:58pm

A Murrieta man who is on trial for ripping off friends and investors out of $142 million in a real estate investment fraud scheme has challenged them in court to show a paper trail between them and him, as well as his mother, who is also on trial. The victims include fellow church-goers, kung-fu classmates, an animal control officer, retirees, a security guard and a mortgage broker.

Hendrix Montecastro, 39, and his mother, Helen Moreno Pedrino, 60, were charged in 2009 with 249 felony charges of securities fraud, grand theft, elder financial abuse and corporate identity theft.

According to the prosecution’s key witness, district attorney investigator Brent Westwood, proving that paper trail will be difficult.

Five other defendants have already pleaded guilty, but Montecastro and his mother are representing themselves in Riverside County Superior Court.

Read the original article in the Press Enterprise.

 

“Ken” of “Ken & Katie Show” in Ventura Pleads Guilty to Real Estate Fraud

April 12th, 2012 at 9:17pm

The first of three persons has pleaded guilty in a real estate fraud case in Ventura County.

Former “Ken & Katie” radio show host Kenneth A. Powell, 58, admitted his guilt in committing 15 felonies according to Ventura County District Attorney Prosecutor Miles Weiss. The crimes include grand theft, theft of an elderly person (elder financial fraud) and multiple aggravated white-collar enhanced crimes.

Powell’s alleged co-conspirators, co-host Kathryn “Katie” Rose, 62, of Woodland Hills, and Paul Charles Lascola, 69, of Thousand Oaks, have also been charged in this real estate investment fraud saga.

The “Ken & Katie” show, which aired on KVTA/1520 AM, was one of three radio infomercials, the other two being “Academy of Real Estate” and “Money Intelligence.”  In all, investors from Ventura, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles counties lost $3 million.

Read the original article in the Ventura County Star.

$142 Million Mortgage Fraud Case Suffers More Delays

April 12th, 2012 at 8:41pm

Hendrix Moreno Montecastro, a 39-year old Murrieta man accused of playing a critical role in an alleged $142 million mortgage fraud, has benefited from numerous delays in his case.

Montecastro was arrested and charged in November 2009 with grand theft, securities fraud, elder abuse and corporate ID theft in the case that caused more than 200 foreclosures in Riverside County as well as the above dollar losses for the investors. His alleged co-conspirator and mastermind, James Benjamin Duncan, also of Murrieta, has already pleaded guilty to corporate ID theft and six counts of securities fraud.

The latest delay was due to Montecastro firing his attorney. Both he and his mother, co-defendant Helen Moreno Pedrino, are now representing themselves.

Read the original article in the Press Enterprise.

Cedar Funding Real Estate Fraud Case Winding Down

April 6th, 2012 at 8:02am

The former owner of Monterey-based Cedar Funding, David Nilsen, 61, has been sentenced to eight years in prison for defrauding investors in a $100 million real estate investment fraud. As part of his sentence, Nilsen, a mortgage broker, has also been ordered to repay $70 million to his jilted investors.

Nilsen is seen by many in his profession, law enforcement and his investors as a once-honest professional who made bad decisions once the real estate melt-down began. His victims, many of whom had known Nilsen during better times, trusted him and sank their entire life’s savings into his mortgage fund. Some of them have forgiven him, believe the prison sentence is fair and moved on while others believe he should have received 25 years behind bars.

Manoel Errico, Cedar Funding’s loan manager, has fled the United States and is a fugitive from justice.

David Nilsen’s real estate license has been revoked by the California Department of Real Estate (DRE).

Read the original article in the Silicon Valley Mercury News.

Richard Lamphere Real Estate Fraud Case to be Heard

March 29th, 2012 at 9:21pm

In an update to a previous article in the California Real Estate Fraud Report, the Solano County Superior Court judge hearing the criminal case against Richard D. Lamphere, 48, for various charges related to real estate fraud, has ordered the attorneys for both sides back to her court next month to present their arguments.

Richard Lamphere has been charged with grand theft, selling unregistered securities and making false statements and/or omissions in relation to monies he received from Ronald Nicoli. Nicoli, who won almost $2 million in a civil lawsuit against Lamphere, contended that Lamphere diverted Nicoli’s original investment into Lamphere’s own projects (real estate investment fraud).

 Read the original article in the Vacaville Reporter.

Straw Buyer Admits to Lending His Credit in Farm Mortgage Fraud

March 22nd, 2012 at 11:27pm

Larry Otting, 66, a co-defendant in a case involving the purchase of a business called Healthy Family Farms, admitted during testimony that he allowed his fellow defendant Sharon Palmer use both his name and good credit (straw buyer) in order to secure financing for the farm (loan fraud, mortgage fraud).

Sharon Palmer and James Stewart, 64, bought the farm in Santa Paula after Otting received a loan for $1.1 million from Rabobank.

Palmer and Stewart are charged with multiple felonies related to the solicitation of investors for the farm purchase and fraud involving a bank in a real estate transaction (mortgage fraud, real estate fraud). In addition, Palmer is charged with stealing the loan money from the bank and another $450,000 from investors, at least one of whom is elderly (elder financial fraud).

Read the original article in the Ventura County Star.

Seal Beach Man Convicted for Elder Financial Fraud in Selling of Foreclosed Properties

March 22nd, 2012 at 11:10pm

John Wesley Martynec, 36, of Long Beach has been convicted today of stealing approximately $302,000 from his real estate investors by falsely promising to profitably resell foreclosed properties. He pleaded guilty to two counts of grand theft, one count of statements in connection with a purchase or sale of securities and the use of a scheme to defraud, one count of financial exploitation of an elder, and a sentencing enhancement for property loss exceeding $200,000. All are felonies.

Two of Martynec’s victims are elderly. Martynec promised them he would invest in foreclosed properties, which he would then re-sell at a profit. Although he took the investors’ funds, he never made any purchases.

Martynec faces a maximum of three years in state prison when he is sentenced this June. Whether he gets to keep his broker’s license will be up to the California Department of Real Estate.

Read the original article in the Orange County Breeze.

Mobile Home Investor Ordered to Pay Restitution in Elder Fraud Abuse Case

March 8th, 2012 at 8:53pm

Kenneth Doolittle, 52, is off to state prison for 13 years after his appeal for a 2009 conviction was denied.

Doolittle was convicted in 2009 for fraud, elder financial abuse and failure to register a securities transaction in relation to a mobile home investment business that went south. He had promised his investor, all of whom were 65 years of age or older, that they would receive returns of 13 percent from his remodeling and flipping the homes (real estate fraud).

Doolittle is due in court this week, at which time the restitution to his victims will be determined.

Read the original article in the Mercury News.

Vesta Strategies Owner Pleads Guilty to $25 Million Ponzi Scheme

February 29th, 2012 at 9:53am

John Terzakis, formerly the majority owner of Vesta Strategies LLC in San Jose, has pleaded guilty to wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering in connection with a $25 million Ponzi scheme that he orchestrated.

Vesta was a qualified intermediary that, if legitimate, would have helped investors avoid paying taxes on capital gains by holding the proceeds from their real estate sales for up to 180 days.

According to Melinda Haag, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California, the investors’ money could not be returned because Terzakis, former Vesta CEO Robert Estupinian and former executive Peter Ye misappropriated the funds for their own use. Esupinian and Ye have already pleaded guilty and like Terzakis, will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge D. Lowell Jensen

Read the original article in the Silicon Valley Business Journal.

Two Women Charged in Orange County with Real Estate Fraud against Vietnamese Community

February 24th, 2012 at 8:56am

This is “Affinity Fraud Week” at the California Real Estate Fraud Report. By that, I mean that in the past week, almost all of the news that I have reported has been where the alleged perpetrator(s) and victim(s) have belonged to the same ethnic group (ethnic fraud). Now on to this latest story of affinity fraud.

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office has announced that two have have been charged in connection with a real estate fraud scheme that targeted the Vietnamese-American community.

Loan Thituong Nguyen, 43, of Westminster, is a licensed real estate broker who operated  Suncoast Mortgage and Suncoast Investment Realty. She and her alleged accomplice, Lynn Eichenberger, 42, of Chatsworth, have both been arrested and charged with 15 felony counts of grand theft, two felony counts of money laundering, and one felony count of conspiracy to commit grand theft with sentencing enhancements for property loss of more than $1.3 million, aggravated white collar crime over $500,000, and money laundering of more than $1 million.

Operating a book-end style scheme, Nguyen is alleged to have approached homeowners in foreclosure and promised to solve their problem in return for substantial amounts of cash (foreclosure fraud). She then made promises to investors to help them acquire foreclosed properties for a 50% upfront fee toward the purchase (real estate investment fraud). The monies she collected were then deposited into an account set up by Lynn Eichenberger.

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas believes there are more victims than the 17 Vietnamese investors who claim to have been defrauded.

Read the original article in the Orange County Register.

© Copyright 2007-2016 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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