California Real Estate Fraud Report

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Archive for May, 2009

Deputies Want to Stamp Out Fraud Against Seniors

May 29th, 2009 at 2:03pm

Deputies in San Bernardino County are on a new mission: stop elder financial fraud by educating seniors about the kinds of scams perpetrated against them.

Deputies Dave Cruz and Ron Hall have tailored crime-prevention programs for seniors, advising them how to prevent real estate fraud.

Real estate crimes against senior citizens have been profile in previous articles on the California Real Estate Fraud Report.

Read the Full Article in the Press Enterprise.

Fireman’s Fund on the Hot Seat by Jilted Investors

May 29th, 2009 at 1:45pm

Fireman’s Fund is the target of a $30 million lawsuit as a result of damages being claimed by 46 current and former employees in an investment fraud case that could exceed $200 million. It has also caught the attention of California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown, who is investigating it as a possible Ponzi scheme.

The basis for the lawsuit is that Fireman’s Fund encourage its employees to attend seminars put on by Gary T. Armitage and James Stanley Koenig. Firemen’s Fund, which was acquired by Allianz SE of Munich, Germany, began downsizing in the mid-1990s, and retained investment advisors such as Armitage and Koenig, to promote their products as part of the Fund’s push to get employees to retire early.

Attorney General Brown arrested both Armitage and Koenig last week and both remain in jail on $5 million bail. Koenig has a prior conviction for mail fraud and served more than two years in a federal prison.

Read the Full Article in the Contra Costa Times.

Did Andrew Cuomo Help Himself at the Expense of Consumers?

May 24th, 2009 at 11:16am

New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo made headlines last year when he began an investigation into now-defunct Washington Mutual Bank’s – aka WaMu – unholy relationship with eAppraiseIT. eAppraiseIT is a subsidiary of title company First American Corporation and its primary source of appraisal work was from WaMu. Cuomo alleged that WaMu essentially blackmailed eAppraiseIT by threatening to take its appraisal business away if the appraising firm didn’t pump up appraisal values so that WaMu loan officers could collect higher commissions on subprime loans it underwrote. And WaMu executives in turn were “rewarded” with higher bonuses.

Now Cuomo is letting the very scoundrels he investigated off the hook, and closing his investigation of them, in exchange for getting the FHA (Federal Housing Financing Agency), FNMA (Fannie Mae) and FMAC (Freddie Mac) to agree to changes in the way appraisals are now performed.

Read about how Cuomo might be adding himself to the list of authorities who are hurting consumers more than helping them with this sweetheart deal:

Examiner.com and Philly.com

Read the original article about Cuomo’s lawsuit and a civil lawsuit filed by appraiser Jennifer Wertz and attorney Stephen Danz in the California Real Estate Fraud Report.

Investigation into Possible Loan Modification Scam in San Jose

May 15th, 2009 at 1:12pm

The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office is investigating a firm that promised to help distressed homeowners obtain loan modifications, but according to the homeowners just took their money and did nothing. According to the DA’s office more than 100 complaints have been logged about Legal Support Services in San Jose. San Jose police have also begun their own investigation.  Sgt. Ronnie Lopez with the San Jose Police Department call it a likely “. . .mortgage rescue fraud. It’s obviously portraying to do something or provide a service and then somehow fraudulently defrauding victims,” he said.

Read the Full Article on ABC 7 On Your Side.

SEC Wakes Up and Smells the Fraud: Charges against Countrywide’s Mozilo Likely

May 15th, 2009 at 9:58am

The Securities and Exchange Commission, aka the SEC, is supposed to be the government’s watchdog in the war against insider trading, executives feathering their own nests at the expense of shareholders, and other forms of corporate corruption.

Yet many observers would say the SEC has been asleep at the wheel since at least 2000, when subprime lenders sprang up like mushrooms in a bog. When the Attorneys General of several states started investigating lenders such as Countrywide and WaMu for everything from mortgage fraud to appraisal fraud, the SEC still didn’t bat an eye. And the backs of members of Congress were too weighted down with campaign contributions from the banking industry for them to either see or care the inevitable and certainly forseeable outcome to the U.S. and world economies from the insatiable greed of that industry.

The political winds are changing: SEC staff are now recommending that Countrywide founder and former CEO Angelo Mozilo, arch-symbol of the subprime run-up and meltdown, be charged with fraud, insider trading and failing to disclose to Countrywide shareholders the risks the company was taking. Mozilo was sent a Wells letter last week informing him of the likely charges. Wells letters are sent by the SEC and unless the SEC’s 5-member commission overturns the recommendations of the staff, Mozilo will likely face the civil charges.

Mozilo is also the target of separate criminal investigations by the federal government. Besides the investigations by the Attorneys General in four states (California (AG Jerry Brown), Illinois (AG Lisa Madigan), New York (AG Andrew Cuomo) and Florida), Mozilo is facing numerous class action suits from unhappy shareholders and loan borrowers who claim they were misled as to the terms of their loans.

According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, Mozilo modified his executive plan with Countrwide in 2006 and increased the sales of his stock from $60 million in 2006 to $130 million in 2007. His attorney, David Siegel of Irell & Manella, denies that Mozilo bears any responsibility for the types of loans his client marketed, and that the stock sales were proper.

This article is also published in Examiner.com.

Sell also the Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal.

Elder Financial Fraud in the Form of Trust Mills

May 13th, 2009 at 4:11pm

Dennis Fordham is one of a panel of volunteer attorneys created by the State Bar of California to educate public awareness of scams that target the elderly.

One of the latest types of elder financial abuse is the “trust mill.” The trust mill is a sort of traveling circus of individuals that purports to educate seniors and others about the benefits of living trusts. Their hook is that they offer to set-up the trust for much lower fees than a typical attorney would charge, but once the trusting senior signs up, the mill tries to sell them other, often unneeded, financial services.

Read the Full Article in the Lake County News.

Foolish Investors Trash Their Own Credit

May 13th, 2009 at 1:42pm

In what has to be deserving of the comment “What were you thinking?”, a number of investors in San Diego County traded their good credit for . . . . well, nothing.

The investors attended a presentation given by James McConville. McConville, who worked for Fremont-based Diamond House Development, confessed and was convicted in 1998 of grand theft. In his latest shady dealing, offered to pay the investors $5,000 to $10,000 for every mortgage they took out on the developer’s properties, using no money of their own, just their good credit. The gullible investors, happy to act as “straw buyers”, never received the promised fees and their credit scores went straight south, after all the properties were foreclosed upon.

Read the Full Article in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Can a House Have 2 Owners – Title Fraud Alleged

May 3rd, 2009 at 1:05pm

A mix-up in the recording of a property’s title has created headaches for the legitimate owner and an arrest for the Santa Cruz man who “sold” it.

Tom Decker and Maria McArthur purchased the Ben Lomond property as a second home. Decker is a real estate agent and placed the property into his Nevada LLC. After being away for several weeks, Decker and McArthur returned to find Daniel Judd living there and claiming to be the rightful owner, having purchased the property from Ray Tate.

Tate, whose father of the same name has had run-ins with the county over other properties he owns, had apparently been watching the Ben Lomond property, which had once belonged to members of his family. After seeing that there was no California Corporation with the same name as the Nevada corporation belonging to Decker and McArthur, Tate registered the new corporation and “sold” the property to Judd.

Tate, who claims he has done nothing wrong, will be charged with four felony crimes, according to the District Attorney’s Office, including attaining property by false pretenses and attempting to record a false document (the deed).

Read the Full Article in the San Jose Mercury News.

© 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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