California Real Estate Fraud Report

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Archive for the 'Short Sale Fraud' Category

Short sale fraud of his Florida ranch earns man a prison sentence

November 20th, 2015 at 10:12am

Jaime Olaya, 53, thought he outsmarted his bank in the short sale of his 10-acre property.

Olaya bought the property in 2005 and in 2008, quit-claimed half of it to a company he controlled. He later completed a short sale on the half that was retained in his name, selling the home to a straw buyer relative using his Olaya’s own funds from Colombia.

How he was caught remains a mystery. On top of the 2 1/2 years in federal prison he’s going to serve, he agreed to forfeit the entire property.

Read the original article in the Sun Sentinel.


Methuen Executive Convicted in Short Sale Fraud Conspiracy

November 20th, 2015 at 9:55am

The following is a press release from the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts:

BOSTON – A Methuen business executive pleaded guilty today to participating in a conspiracy to defraud banks and mortgage companies by engaging in sham “short” sales of residential properties in the Merrimack Valley of Massachusetts.

Dahianara Moran, 40, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.  U.S. District Court Judge Rya W. Zobel scheduled sentencing for Feb. 17, 2016.

Moran conspired with others – including a Methuen loan officer and a Haverhill real estate agent who were not identified in the charging document – to defraud various banks via bogus short sales of homes in Haverhill, Lawrence and Methuen.  A short sale is a sale of real estate for less than the value of any mortgage debt on the property.  Short sales are an alternative to foreclosure that typically occur only with the consent of the mortgage lender, and that generally result in the lender absorbing a loss on the loan and releasing the borrower from the unpaid balance.  By their very nature, short sales are intended to be arms-length transactions in which the buyers and sellers are unrelated, and in which the sellers cede their control of the subject properties in exchange for the short-selling bank’s agreement to release them from their unpaid debt.

The conspiracy began in approximately August 2007 and continued through June 2010, a period that included the height of the financial crisis and its aftermath.  Home values in Massachusetts and across the nation declined precipitously, and many homeowners found themselves suddenly “underwater,” with their homes worth less than the mortgage debt they owed.  As part of the scheme, Moran and her co-conspirators submitted materially false and misleading documents to numerous banks in an effort to induce them to permit the short-sales – and thereby to release the purported sellers from their unpaid mortgage debts – while simultaneously inducing the purported buyers’ banks to provide financing for the deals.  In fact, the purported sellers simply stayed in the homes, with their debt substantially reduced.  In some cases, the conspirators then re-sold the properties in genuine arms-length transactions for a profit.  Meanwhile, the short-selling banks lost millions of dollars.

As part of the conspiracy:

  • The conspirators falsely led banks to believe that the sales were arms-length transactions between unrelated parties, when in fact, the transactions were not arms-length, and the sellers retained control of (and frequently continued to live in) the properties after the sale. For example, Moran purported to sell two properties she owned to third parties who were, in fact, her close relatives, while actually maintaining control of both properties.
  • The conspirators submitted phony earnings statements that Moran prepared in support of loan applications that they submitted to banks in order to obtain financing for the purported sales.
  • The conspirators submitted phony HUD-1 Settlement Statements to banks, as well as to the Federal Housing Administration, that did not accurately reflect the disbursement of funds in the transactions. (A HUD-1 Settlement Statement is a standard form, developed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, that is used to document the flow of funds in real estate transactions.HUD-1 Settlement Statements are required for all transactions involving federally related mortgage loans, including all mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration.)

Hayacinth Bellerose, a real estate attorney from Dunstable, Mass., pleaded guilty last month to the same charge and is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 4, 2016.

The charge of conspiracy to commit bank fraud provides for a sentence of no greater than 30 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $1 million.  Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Christina Scaringi, Special Agent in Charge of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, New York Field Office; and Christy Goldsmith Romero, the Special Inspector General of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, made the announcement today.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen E. Frank, Deputy Chief of Ortiz’s Economic Crimes Unit.

Massachusetts attorney pleads guilty in short sale fraud conspiracy

November 11th, 2015 at 10:08am

Hyacinth Bellerose, 50, a Dunstable, Massachusetts real estate attorney, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud in federal court.

Bellerose, who was prosecuted by the office of United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz, colluded with a Methuen loan officer and a Haverhill real estate agent to defraud lenders from 2007-2010 by orchestrating a number of phony short sales. Bellerose and her co-conspirators submitted false and misleading documents to the banks to convince them to permit the short sales while at the same time inducing the buyers’ banks to finance purchases. The home sellers, though, stayed in their homes with their mortgages “substantially reduced” (mortgage laundering) while the conspirators made money from the transactions. Some of the homeowners then later sold their homes at a profit.

Read the original press release on the website of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts.

California Bureau of Real Estate (BRE) Summary of Enforcement Actions – September 2015

October 16th, 2015 at 10:12am

Here is the monthly summary of enforcement actions the BRE has taken against licensees.

Note that for all the good work the BRE does in trying to discipline or remove bad agents and brokers, it has not filed any actions against licensees for involvement in short sale fraud schemes for almost 2 years!


Nevada Attorney General Laxalt indicts American Equity Foundation owners in short sale fraud case

September 25th, 2015 at 9:20am

The following is a press release from the Office of Nevada Attorney General Laxalt:

Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt announced that Christopher Nelson, 46, of Henderson and Niket Kulkarni, 38, of Los Angeles, CA were indicted by the Clark County Grand Jury on charges of pattern of mortgage lending fraud and racketeering, among others. The defendants operated their business, the American Equity Foundation, between July 2012 and May 2013.

According to the indictment, the defendants are accused of soliciting customers to participate in a short sale program associated with the federal government called the Neighborhood Stabilization Plan. Defendants falsely represented to their clients that their business could facilitate the short sales of customers’ homes to investors. Clients were also told that they could then lease their homes from the investors for a period of time, before having the opportunity to repurchase those homes at a cost of 90-100% of the home’s market value. Through these representations, the defendants are alleged to have unlawfully obtained more than $133,000 from their clients.

“Indictments such as these set a precedent that fraudulent behavior will not be tolerated and will be aggressively pursued,” said Laxalt. “Mortgage fraud can have devastating effects on homeowners and the economy, and my office will hold accountable those who unlawfully collect fees from homeowners using false promises of solutions.”

Special Agent in Charge James Todak of the Housing and Urban Development’s Office of the Inspector General (HUD-OIG) added, “Our office continues to be vigilant in protecting FHA insured borrowers from those in the mortgage industry willing to defraud them through foreclosure rescue schemes. This prosecution with the Nevada Attorney General’s Office demonstrates our commitment to protecting HUD’s important work in providing affordable home ownership.”

Nelson and Kulkarni are scheduled for initial appearances before the Eighth Judicial District Court on October 5, 2015.

This case was investigated by the HUD-OIG and the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP). Senior Deputy Attorney General Raya Swift and Deputy Attorney General Michael Kovac are prosecuting the case. An indictment is merely a charging document; every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.

To read the criminal indictments for Nelson and Kulkarni, click on their respective links. To file a complaint about someone suspected of committing a fraud, click here.

Father and son charged in short sale fraud of their properties

September 4th, 2015 at 8:24am

Two New Jersey men have been charged with bank fraud for allegedly setting up fraudulent short sales of their own properties in Emerson and Park Ridge.

George Bussanich Sr., 56, of Park Ridge, and George Bussanich Jr., 35, of Upper Saddle River, were charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and two counts of bank fraud.

Bussanich Sr. is alleged to have sold the Emerson and Park Ridge properties as short sales to straw buyers, for which he provided the purchase money. He later re-purchased the properties from the straw buyers. His son is alleged to have lied to one of the mortgage servicers about one of the properties.

The intended outcome of selling one’s own properties to a straw buyer and then re-taking ownership is to get a write-down in the principal owed on the property, at the expense of the original lender.


In 2014, the Bussaniches agreed to pay to pay $5.5 million – including $4 million in restitution – to settle allegations that they defrauded more than 30 investors and spent the money on Maseratis, a Ferrari and expensive homes, charges which they denied.

Read the original article in

Virginia woman sentenced to 60 months for short sale fraud

August 17th, 2015 at 9:45am

The following is a press release from the FBI website:

ALEXANDRIA, VA—Charise Stone, 46, of Ashburn, Virginia, was sentenced today to 60 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release for her role in a real estate short sale scheme that included tax and mortgage fraud, and passing fraudulent financial documents. Stone was also ordered to forfeit $721,552, and ordered to pay restitution of $2,441,174 to the victim financial institutions and the IRS.

Stone was found guilty by a federal jury on May 27, 2015. According to court documents, from 2007 to 2010 Stone targeted distressed homeowners who owed more on their mortgage loan than the market value of the home with false promises of financial recovery. Stone acquired distressed homeowners’ properties in her own name or under entities she controlled, made false representations to mortgage lenders in order to induce approval of the short sales, and then re-sold the properties—often the same day or the next—to new buyers at a price above the short sale amount, in violation of agreements made with mortgage lenders.

Jose Marinay owned a settlement company that closed every short sale transaction for Stone. Marinay pleaded guilty to wire-fraud conspiracy on May 27, 2014. At his and Stone’s direction, fraudulent HUD-1 settlement statements were prepared to facilitate the transactions, and Stone destroyed some of the incriminating documents after closings. Financial institutions suffered losses of at least $2.2 million from the scheme, while Stone profited more than $720,000 from these transactions but failed to file individual income tax returns. She also sent fictitious bonds to the IRS in an attempt to pay off her tax liability, and she sent fake international promissory notes to creditors purporting to satisfy her credit card debt as well as her mortgage loan.

Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Caroline D. Ciraolo, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Tax Division; Andrew G. McCabe, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; and Thomas Jankowski, Special Agent in Charge of IRS-Criminal Investigation’s (IRS-CI) Washington, D.C. Field Office, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office and IRS–CI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Uzo Asonye and Assistant Chief Todd Ellinwood of the Justice Department’s Tax Division are prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:14-cr-127.

New Jersey loan officer gets prison for role in short sale fraud scheme

August 13th, 2015 at 9:44am

Middlesex County resident Delio Coutinho, 73, has been sentenced to 36 months in prison for his part in a mortgage fraud scheme that caused millions of dollars in losses, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said in a news release.

Coutinho, who pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, admitted conspiring with others to release liens on properties by conducting fraudulent short sales. Following the short sales, which included submitting false income, loan and closing documents to the lenders, Coutinho and other then submitted new fraudulent loan documents in order to obtain about $2 million in illegal proceeds from subsequent lenders.

Judge Wigenton also ordered Delio Coutinho to serve three years of supervised release and pay more than $1.3 million in restitution.

Read the original article in

Danville real estate agent pleads guilty to short sale fraud of his own properties

July 22nd, 2015 at 4:18pm

Anthony Keslinke, 47, a Danville real estate broker, pleaded guilty to two conspiracy charges as part of a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California.

Keslinke was arrested in February 2014 and charged with 12 counts of fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy dating from between February 2011 and March 2014, when he falsified documents to lenders in order to short-sell his own East Bay properties.  He sold his properties in Danville and Walnut Creek by using straw buyers in order to retain control of the properties, both of which he later sold at a profit.

Prosecutors also said that Keslinke met with an undercover federal agent posing as a drug dealer and accepted a total of $550,000 from the man.

Read the original article in the Mercury News.

Ojai woman sentenced in foreclosure fraud, short sale fraud case

July 22nd, 2015 at 3:15pm

Ojai  resident Nelly Luz Rubiano has been sentenced by Ventura County Superior Court Judge David Hirsch to one year in county jail. The 58-year-old had previously pleaded guilty to charges of felony grand theft and foreclosure consultant fraud.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Tony Wold argued that Rubiano presented herself to her fellow Hispanics as a specialist in loan modifications and referred people to Foreclosure Legal Services, located in the city of Orange. As with the Herrera prosecution (also by the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office, click here to read), victims were promised their homes would be purchased and sold back to them at a reduced price and they were illegally charged advance/upfront fees for services that were not delivered.

Read the original article in


© 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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