California Real Estate Fraud Report

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Archive for the 'Short Sale Fraud' Category

New York Attorney Sentenced to 4 Years for Short Sale Fraud Scheme

May 11th, 2017 at 3:27pm

New York attorney Helene Stetch, 53, of Lindenhurst, has been sentenced Wednesday to  a prison term of 16 months to four years, according to a press release by the Queens County District Attorney.  In a novel form of short sale fraud, Stetch was accused of selling homes to new owners without paying off both the existing mortgages and obtaining approval from all lien holders.

The homeowners who thought they were conducting legitimate short sales were later surprised to receive foreclosure notices.

Stetch had worked at the law office of Kenneth Schwartz at Carle Place in New York and wrote most of the disbursement checks, which Schwartz, 67, signed.

Helene Stetch executed eight confessions of judgment totaling about $2.3 million, while Kenneth Schwartz executed confessions of judgment in favor of two homeowners totaling about $129,000.

Read the original article in the ABA Journal.

Three From Long Island Arrested In $1 Million Mortgage Fraud Scheme

May 5th, 2017 at 8:45am

Nine people were indicted, and three arrested for an alleged mortgage fraud scheme that included some short sale fraud purchases. The scheme spanned two boroughs of New York City and resulted in more than $1 million in fraudulent gains.

The persons arrested were Janelle Defreitas, 37, of Uniondale; Lester Wayne Mackey, 63, of Wyandanch; and Darren Downes, 36, of Baldwin. Also named in the indictment were Raymond McKayle, 53, of East Flatbush; Jaipaul Persaud, 54, of Fresh Meadows; Roxanne Harmon, 51, of Jamaica; June Whyte, 54, of Ozone Park; Rickley Gregoire, 33, of Brooklyn; and Paula Blackwood-Sambury, 50, of Cambria Heights.

“Our investigation uncovered a brazen and elaborate scheme to defraud mortgage lenders and steal over $1 million,” said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. “We have zero tolerance for anyone who tries to cheat the system — and we won’t hesitate to bring them to justice.”

Ironically, Roxanne Harmon is an investigator for the New York City Department of Investigation. One of the properties involved was apparently her own.

Read the original article, which includes the charges and details of the alleged mortgage fraud scheme, in The Patch.

 

Husband And Wife Convicted in Fraudulent Short Sale of Property Later Sold to Sacred Heart Academy

April 6th, 2017 at 1:58pm

On March 30, Joseph Atias and Sofia Atias were convicted of bank fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud and Medicaid fraud by a jury in federal court in Central Islip, New York.

According to a press release by the U.S. Attorney for Eastern District of New York,

The fraud was designed to, and did, defraud Bank of America of over half a million dollars.  The defendants face penalties of up to 35 years’ imprisonment, the forfeiture of $560,000, and restitution of over $700,000.  After the verdicts, Joseph Atias was remanded to custody pending sentencing by United States District Judge Denis R. Hurley.

The convictions were announced by Bridget M. Rohde, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office.

“Through a web of lies and false documentation, these defendants stole more than half a million dollars from Bank of America and from Medicaid, which they used to line their own pockets,” stated Acting United States Attorney Rohde.  “The fine work of the FBI to bring these defendants to account for these crimes sends a clear message to anyone who contemplates engaging in mortgage fraud or Medicaid fraud: Do not even attempt it, because you will be caught and held responsible.”  Ms. Rohde extended her grateful appreciation to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the agency responsible for leading the government’s investigation.

The defendants were convicted of bank fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud in connection with the sale of property adjacent to Sacred Heart Academy for $925,000, after the defendants had sold the property in a short sale for $480,000 to discharge their mortgage debt.  In the short sale process, the defendants and a co-conspirator, an attorney who pleaded guilty and testified against the defendants at trial, concealed the offer from Sacred Heart Academy from the Bank of America.  In the short sale process, the defendants submitted a fraudulent contract of sale and other documents with false statements to Bank of America, and obtained approval of a short sale, wherein the proceeds from the sale of the property were less than the total amount of the mortgages on the property.  The defendants submitted these documents to Bank of America, falsely representing that there were no funds to pay the mortgages when, in fact, the defendants knew that Sacred Heart Academy, a high school in Hempstead, New York, had offered to buy the property for an amount sufficient to cover the mortgages on the property.  To accomplish the fraudulent short sale scheme, the defendants used a relative as a straw buyer of the property to create the appearance of an arms-length sale.  Shortly after that sale, the defendant’s straw buyer sold the property to Sacred Heart Academy for approximately half a million dollars in profit.

Two Plead Guilty in Massachusetts Short Sale Fraud

March 30th, 2017 at 3:17pm

Four persons are facing the justice system for their involvement in a short sale fraud scheme that occurred in Essex County in Massachusetts.

Jasmin Polanco, 37, a real estate closing attorney, and Vanessa Ricci, 40, a mortgage loan officer, each pleaded guilty yesterday to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Both women have not yet been sentenced.

In the same alleged scheme, Methuen real estate broker Greisy Jimenez, 49,  was indicted this week on two counts of bank fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

On March 22, 2017, U.S. District Court Judge Rya W. Zobel sentenced a fourth person, Hyacinth Bellerose, 51, a real estate closing attorney from Dunstable, to time served and one year of supervised release to be served in home detention.

Jimenez, Polanco, Ricci, Bellerose and others allegedly submitted materially false and misleading documents to different banks so that the lenders would approve short sales. Approved short sales are required to be arms-length transactions where the seller and buyer are not acquainted through familial, business or other pre-existing relationships with one another. Also, the seller/borrower is almost always required to move out of the property following the sale.

Read the original article in The Patch.

Wave of Short Sale Deposit Scams in the Los Angeles Area

March 23rd, 2017 at 9:41am

The following short sale fraud scam was printed on the California Association of Realtors website:

While we all are concerned about cybercrime and identity theft, it appears taking someone’s money the old-fashioned way has reappeared in short sale scams in Southern California. The alleged scams appear to follow the same basic format.  A short sale agreement was entered into four to six months ago.  The buyer made an initial deposit in the $5,000 to $15,000 range into the listing broker’s non-independent broker escrow.  As with most short sales, the process takes several months and the selling agent is assured that the listing agent is working towards lender approval – it is just taking more time.  Then the communication slows down, the selling agent begins to get concerned and calls the listing broker’s escrow.  There is no answer and no return call and no other number to contact.

A case has been opened with the Long Beach Police Department, Financial Crimes Division.  The officer in charge is Detective Robert Ryan (562) 570-7391.  As of late December, there were approximately 20 victims.  However, the C.A.R. Hotline has received more than 15 calls since the first of the year which have been referred to the Long Beach Police.  The California Bureau of Real Estate is also aware of this case.

Additionally, the Los Angeles County Sheriff has made an arrest in what appears to be an identical scam involving at least 32 victims with a total loss of $498,000. To contact the LA Sheriff’s office call Detective Keith Clark at (562) 946-7217 or tips can be made anonymously at Crime Stoppers, (800) 222-TIPS (8477).

If you believe you or your buyer has fallen victim to a short sale scam, you should contact the police and the Bureau of Real Estate.

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.

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.

Real Estate Broker, Agent Go to Jail for Short Sale Fraud

November 11th, 2016 at 11:48am

The following is a press release by the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office:

The Honorable Curtis Fiorini sentenced Shaima Hadayat and Harpreet Singh to 180 days in county jail for real estate fraud, specifically, short sale fraud.  Singh also received 5 years formal probation and Hadayat received 3 years informal probation.

Broker Shaima Hadayat and Real Estate Agent Harpreet Singh were realtors for multiple short sale transactions in which they signed arm’s length transaction agreements under penalty of perjury.  An investigation by the Office of Inspector General revealed the sellers were related to the buyers and after the transactions were completed, the sellers remained in their homes in violation of the agreements.

Both defendants conspired to facilitate and obtain commissions from these transactions.  Singh also forged proof of funds on multiple offers to various realtors throughout Sacramento County.

Harpreet Singh pled no contest to a felony count of forgery and agreed to surrender his realtor license to the California Bureau of Real Estate.  Shaima Hadayat pled no contest to a misdemeanor count of grand theft and agreed to surrender her broker license to the California Bureau of Real Estate.

The Office of the Inspector General was the investigating agency as the victims, Wells Fargo Bank and Bank of America, N.A., applied for and received federal Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds under the Capital Purchase Program (CPP).

This case was prosecuted by the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit.

4 Chatsworth residents charged in alleged $30 million mortgage relief fraud and short sale fraud scheme

October 28th, 2016 at 9:37am

The following people have been indicted in relation to an alleged mortgage relief fraud scam that brought in $30 million, according to a press release by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.

Chatsworth residents Yun Soon Matsuba, aka Dorothy Matsuba, 65; Thomas Matsuba, 64; Jane Matsuba Garcia, 40;  Jamie Matsuba, 31; and Koreatown’s Young Park, 53, have each been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, make false statements and commit identity theft.

The indictment alleges, the defendants ran businesses from 2005-2014 called Ownership Management Service LLC and Trust Holding Service LLC.

While they claimed to help homeowners get out from underwater mortgages by performing short sales, the defendants allegedly required the homeowners to deed properties to trusts they controlled, failed to continue making mortgage payments and submitted fraudulent and false short-sale purchase offers to the banks instead of performing the promised short sales.

 

Stockton real estate agents sentenced in mortgage fraud

October 28th, 2016 at 6:23am

Lillian Marquez, 41, of Stockton, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge John Mendez to three years and one month in prison for conspiring to commit mortgage fraud, according to Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip Talbert. Her co-defendant, Michael Keatts, 59 received the same sentence in September.

Marquez and Keatts operated Colonial Home and Business Services in Stockton and were licensed real estate agents. They supplied false information and documents to lenders on behalf of their clients in order for the clients to receive loans.

They also helped other clients commit short sale fraud by selling those clients’ homes to straw buyers, while the clients remained in the homes.

Read the original article in the Central Valley Business Times.

 

© 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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