August 28th, 2009 at 1:59pm
Jay Hurst Miler, president of the Hurst Financial Corp., has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in the midst of civil lawsuits, a criminal investigation and fraud accusations by California state regulator. His daughter Courtney Brard, who is the vice-president of Hurst Financial, has also filed for bankruptcy.
Hurst Financial has been the subject of a number of articles in the California Real Estate Fraud Report.
Read the Full Article in the San Luis Obispo Tribune.
August 28th, 2009 at 1:43pm
A Garden Grove housekeeper is being investigated by police in Orange County for possibly cleaning more than her elderly clients’ house.
Marlina Heinz was the housekeeper for Charles and Lois Woodbridge, an octogenarian couple living in Orange. Their attorney, Noelle M. Tomp, who practices elder, probate and trust law, has sued Heinz on behalf of their son John, alleging that she stole more than half of the Woodbridge’s assets. Charles Woodbridge has Parkinson’s Disease and his wife Lois has Alzheimer’s and dementia. It was because of his parents’ illnesses that John Woodbridge enlisted Dana’s Housekeeping in Garden Grove to find a housekeeper.
The lawsuit claims that 5 days before Lois’ death in 2006, Marlina Heinz took Charles to an attorney to have the Woodbridge’s estate plan amended so that Heinz would receive $200,000 and become the trustee of their estate. Later, Heinz’ name was added to the Woodbridge’s bank accounts and then – get this – she “married” Charles Woodbridge, despite already being married.
In addition to Heinz, John Woodbridge’s attorney has sued Dana’s Housekeeping and the two attorneys who altered the Woodbridge family trust.
Read the Full Article in the Orange County Register.
August 20th, 2009 at 10:44pm
In a case with many victims, but a long, expensive investigation that has yet to yield a prosecution, another party has given up his license.
Gary L. Killian was the appraiser used by Jennifer Crisp, wife of Crisp and Cole principal David Crisp to purchase a million dollar property located at 11219 Draper Court in 2006. Instead of performing his appraisal according to the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice required by the California state Office of Real Estate Appraisers (OREA), Killian inflated his estimate of the value of the property by ignoring true comparables in favor of numbers that would yield a larger loan for Jennifer Crisp. Crisp’s house later fell into foreclosure and was ultimately sold for $510,000 in June 2008.
By surrendering his license, Killian may no longer conduct appraisals in the state of California. Should he ever (heaven forbid) reapply for his license, Killian’s former conduct would be evaluated and he would be responsible for some of the costs associated with investigating his actions.
Crisp and Cole were once dominant players in Bakersfield real estate. Although there were raids on their offices by the FBI in 2007, no charges have been filed against either David Crisp or Carl Cole to date, although the California Department of Real Estate (DRE) has revoked their real estate licenses. Their brokerage firm Crisp and Cole was sued by the former Fremont Investment and Loan for filing false loan applications on 7 properties for which Fremont funded loans in 2005 and 2006. Fremong Investment Loan is now called Fremont Reorganization Corp.
Read the Full Article in the Bakersfield California.
Also search the California Real Estate Fraud Report’s database for earlier articles on Crisp and Cole.
August 20th, 2009 at 4:39pm
Wells Fargo Bank is the target in a new class action lawsuit that accuses the mega-bank of fraudulently claiming that the property values of its customers had declined and using that as a pretense to shut off home equity lines of credit (HELOCs).
Homeowner Michael Hickman, of Westmont, Ilinois filed the lawsuit on behalf of himself and other Wells Fargo HELOC holders. The lawsuit claims that Wells Fargo used computer models to “appraise” the homes instead of licensed appraisers and that the bank did not give its customers sufficient notice of either its intent to “re-appraise” or what the consequences would be. It then required customers contesting the computer appraisals to pay for their own appraisal to show that the computer appraisal was incorrect in order to seek reinstatement of the HELOC.
In Mr. Hickman’s case, after Wells Fargo froze his HELOC, it then “offered” to flip him into a high-interest credit card. Bait-and-switch, anyone?
Note: This author opines that computer modeling is a wildly inaccurate method of appraising homes and can be easily manipulated to obtain the outcomes desired by those who employ them, especially when the algorithms are not made available so they can be validated. Home values can fluctuate significantly between neighborhoods and it is highly improbable that any programming either takes into account such variations or that it would even be possible to program the variations into the model.
Michael Hickman’s attorneys are Jay Edelson, Steven Lezell and Evan Meyers, all with KamberEdelson LLC. KamberEdelson has previously sued JP Morgan Chase, WaMu, and Citibank in class actions over similar HELOC cancellations or suspensions.
Read the Full Article in TradingMarkets.com
August 10th, 2009 at 11:42pm
In a case that is symbolic of the unbridled greed of the real estate and mortgage industries in the past 10 years, former Beverly Hills real estate agent Kyle Grasso and real estate appraiser Lila Rizk were convicted on multiple federal charges of bank fraud and conspiracy. They now face sentences of up to 515 years and 425 years respectively when they are formally sentenced next January.
In a clear surprise to prosecutors, the lead defendant, Joseph Babajian, was acquitted of 13 criminal charges, with the jury failing to reach a verdict on 8 additional charges. Prosecutors are evaluating to retry Babajian, despite skepticism from U.S. District Judge Dean D. Pregerson that Babajian could be convicted.
The fraud group’s ringleaders were developers Mark Alan Abrams and Charles Elliott Fitzgerald, who were convicted earlier in the year for their part in a scheme that cost Lehman Brothers Bank and other lenders up to $40 million in losses. According to earlier published reports in the California Real Estate Report and other media, the extent of the losses occurred because Lehman Brothers brushed off reports that they were being ripped-off when contacted by alert real estate agents such as Christian Stevens of Keller Williams Realty.
At its height, the conspiracy ring consisted of the developers, appraisers, mortgage brokers and real estate agents. Lower-end properties in high-priced Westside neighborhoods were purchased by “straw buyers” (non-legitimate borrowers working in the ring). The properties were then refinanced after being appraised at inflated prices and the proceeds distributed to members of the ring, who then defaulted on the loans. Eighty-one of these transactions were performed, with the conspirators borrowing a total of $142 million from Lehman Brothers.
Read the Full Article in the Los Angeles Times.
Also search this blog for “Beverly Hills” to read earlier articles.