California Real Estate Fraud Report

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Archive for the 'Straw Buyers' Category

Former Roseville Real Estate Agent Sentenced to Prison for Forging Documents

March 2nd, 2017 at 10:54am

Alla Samchuk, 45, who was previously a licensed real estate agent, has been sentenced to nine years and six months in federal prison for mortgage fraud, identity theft and obstruction of justice. She was convicted last August.

According to prosecutors, from 2006 through 2008, Samchuk concocted a mortgage fraud involving two homes in Roseville and one in El Dorado Hills. Because she was unable to qualify for the loans, so she found straw buyers to apply for the loans in their own names. The applications contained false statements regarding income, employment and assets, including falsely representing that the straw buyers would occupy the homes.

Judge Garland Burrell Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California in Sacramento was the trial judge. He imposed the longer sentence because Samchuk had threatened a witness not to report her crimes.

You can read more about the history of the case by going to the U.S. Government Publishing Office.

Read the original article in the Sacramento Business Journal.

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.

 

Roseville real estate agent convicted in mortgage fraud case

August 4th, 2016 at 9:08am

Real estate agent Alla Samchuk, 45, has been found guilty of six counts of bank fraud, six counts of making a false statement to a financial institution, one count of money laundering and one count of aggravated identity theft, according to a press release by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California.

Court documents revealed that from 2006 through 2008 Samchuk operated a mortgage fraud scheme involving three properties in the Sacramento area, specifically Roseville and El Dorado HIlls. Unable to qualify for a loan to make the purchases herself,  Samchuk employed the services of straw buyers to apply for the loans.  She caused the submission of loan applications containing false representations of income, employment, assets, and a false indication that the straw buyers would occupy the homes as their primary residence.

A second objective of the scheme was to obtain HELOC (home equity line of credit) funds. According to evidence at trial, on two of the properties, Samchuk diverted or attempted to divert HELOC funds to her own benefit. Samchuk caused the HELOC loans to fund by submitting false statements and documents to the lender regarding the qualifications of the straw buyers.

Turning against her own straw buyers, Samchuk filed an application for a HELOC on one of the properties without the straw buyer’s knowledge or consent (HELOC fraud). To obtain the HELOC, she forged the signature of the straw buyer on a short form deed of trust that she caused to be notarized and recorded. The stated purpose of the HELOC was home improvement, but once the line of credit was funded, Samchuk quickly diverted all of the funds to her own use, spending the proceeds on a Lexus and the repayment of a substantial personal debt.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Audrey B. Hemesath and Andre M. Espinosa prosecuted the case.

 

Anthony Keslinke Sentenced to 4 Years in Real Estate Fraud, Drug Money Scheme

April 29th, 2016 at 12:48pm

Danville businessman Anthony Keslinke, 47, was sentenced to four years in prison by Judge Jon Tigar in the U.S. District Court in Oakland after previously pleading guilty to real estate fraud and money laundering schemes.

Keslinke’s sentence arose out of a guilty plea last year in which he admitted to devising schemes to short-sell properties and for accepting what he thought was drug money from an undercover Internal Revenue Service agent. He must also pay almost $1.3 million in restitution to his victims and to forfeit approximately $3 million in assets.

Read the original article in the Mercury News.

Read the article in the Antioch Herald to learn more about Anthony Keslinke‘s fraudulent short sales (short sale fraud) and the profits he made from it.

San Diego Brothers Sentenced to Prison for “Debt Elimination” Scheme, Short Sale Fraud

March 28th, 2016 at 5:53pm

Brothers and former real estate agents Adel and Atef Afkarian were sentenced to prison terms for operating a fraudulent “debt elimination” scheme as well as a complicated short sale fraud that ripped off lenders in the San Diego area.

Adel Afkarian was sentenced  to 18 months by U.S. District Judge John Houston and Atef Afkarian received 13 months. The judge ordered the brothers to pay more than $5.5 million in restitution to their victims. Their licenses had previously been revoked by the California Bureau of Real Estate.

After identifying underwater homeowners (including themselves), the Afkarians recorded fraudulent deeds (title fraud) that showed the loans on the properties had been extinguished. They then sold the properties to unaware buyers. The original mortgage lenders, who did not know about the fraudulent title documents, were not paid. This included their own $1.4 million mortgage.

At the same time, the Afkarians conspired to transact fraudulent short sales for underwater clients through a simultaneous “double escrow” scheme involving the use of straw buyers.

Read the original article in Fox 5 News.

Stiff Prison Sentence for Real Estate Agent Convicted in Mortgage Fraud Case

March 25th, 2016 at 6:11am

A Placer County woman convicted in a multimillion-dollar mortgage fraud scheme has been sentenced to 14 years in prison.

Vera Kuzmenko, 46, of Loomis was sentenced to 14 years in prison by U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez for multiple counts of mail and wire fraud, witness tampering and money laundering for her role  in the scheme that cost financial institutions more than $16 million, according to a U.S. attorney’s office news release.

Kuzmenko and  Rachel Siders, 40, of Roseville were convicted by a federal jury in December 2015. Rachel Siders will be sentenced June 21.

Prosecutors presented evidence that, from late 2006 through early 2008, Kuzmenko and Siders participants in a mortgage fraud scheme involving more than 30 properties in the Sacramento area. The pair were responsible for securing more than $30 million in residential mortgage loans on more than 30 homes purchased through straw buyers. Records introduced during the trial showed Kuzmenko received millions of dollars in payment for creating fraudulent loan applications on behalf of the straw buyers.

In October 2015, Judge Mendez sentenced co-defendants Peter Kuzmenko, 37 of West Sacramento, to 19 years in prison; Aaron New, 41 of Sacramento, to 11 years and three months in prison; Nadia Kuzmenko, 36, formerly of Loomis, to eight years in prison; and Edward Shevtsov, 52, of North Highlands, to eight years in prison. They were previously found guilty of multiple counts of mail and wire fraud associated with the mortgage fraud scheme. In addition, Peter Kuzmenko, Shevtsov and New were found guilty of money laundering associated with the scheme, and Nadia Kuzmenko was found guilty of witness tampering.

The FBI and the IRS-Criminal Investigation investigated the case.

You can find earlier articles related to this case in the California Real Estate Fraud Report.

Read the original article in the Sacramento Bee.

Operator of Excel Investments “Builder Bailout” Case Convicted

February 12th, 2016 at 11:45am

A Huntington Beach man suspected of running what authorities described as a “builder bailout” real estate scheme was convicted Friday of fraudulently buying more than 100 condominium units across the country.

Momoud Aref Abaji, 34, of Huntington Beach was found guilty by a federal grand jury of multiple felony counts of bank fraud, wire fraud and tax evasion in relation to a “builder bailout” scheme that resulted in foreclosures that caused losses of $9 million to lenders.

Prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California accused Abaji and others affiliated to Excel Investments and related companies in Santa Ana and Irvine to a scheme in which they purchased struggling condominium developments from the developers in exchange for “hefty commissions.” Up to 100 condominium units were involved in these purchases, which Abaji and other defendants sold to straw buyers by utilizing altered bank statements, pay stubs and other documents.

“Abaji’s fraud cost these financial institutions millions of dollars and put taxpayer funds at risk,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker.

Read the original article in the OC Register.

There is also an earlier article about Momoud Aref Abaji and Excel Investments  in the California Real Estate Fraud Report.

Federal Jury Convicts Real Estate Agent and Escrow Officer in $16 Million Mortgage Fraud Case

January 20th, 2016 at 9:05pm

A federal jury Friday has convicted Vera Kuzmenko, 45, of Loomis, and Rachel Siders, 40, of Roseville, of multiple counts of mail and wire fraud for their roles in a mortgage fraud scheme that caused losses to financial institutions exceeding $16 million, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.

Vera Kuzmenko was additionally found guilty of witness tampering and money laundering.

Prosecutors presented evidence during the trial that, from late 2006 through early 2008, the defendants ran a mortgage fraud scheme in the Sacramento area involving at least 30 properties. Vera Kuzmenko was a licensed real estate agent who helped straw buyers by creating fraudulent loan applications that contained false information regarding their income, jobs, assets and their intent to reside in the properties.

Rachel Siders operated the escrow company used for most of the transactions. She funneled millions of dollars to Kuzmenko and other defendants, a fact which was not disclosed to the lenders (escrow fraud).

“Vera Kuzmenko was a major figure in a network of fraudsters responsible for a wave of mortgage fraud that hit the Sacramento area,” said U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner. “As the guilty verdicts in this case demonstrate, mortgage fraudsters who believe they can escape accountability for their crime by blaming others and offering false alibis are mistaken.”

Read the original article in the Imperial Valley News.

Operators of Capital Access LLC Plead Guilty in $10 Million Mortgage Fraud Case

January 20th, 2016 at 8:50pm

Vallejo residents Zalathiel Aguila, 42, and Omar Anabo, 53, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to make false statements on loan applications.

Aguila and Anabo ran Vallejo‑based Capital Access LLC. The purpose of the company was to be an interim mortgage rescue program that purported to help distressed homeowners by purchasing their homes using straw buyer investors. The homeowners were convinced to sign title of their homes to Capital Access, which then sold the properties to the straw buyers. The straw buyers obtained loans after promising to occupy the homes and that the down-payment money was not borrowed; neither were true, according to court records.

Read the original article in the Daily Republic.

 

 

Tony Huy Havens Sentenced in Separate Mortgage Fraud Schemes

January 20th, 2016 at 8:37pm

Modesto resident Tony Huy Havens, 42, was sentenced Monday by United States District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill for his role in two mortgage fraud schemes.

The sentence of three years and five months was announced by United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner.

In the first case, Havens sought out individuals in at least eight states whose construction projects were in danger of foreclosing and extracted advance fees after showing them fraudulent documents indicating a lender would make them loans.

In the second scheme, Havens used two relatives as straw buyers to obtain a loan that exceeded the actual selling price of a residential property. The excess was returned to him, which he used to purchase the property.

The cases were the product of investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office, and the Federal Housing Financing Agency, Office of Inspector General.

Read the original Press Release.

 

© 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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