California Real Estate Fraud Report

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Archive for March, 2010

San Francisco attorney and others charged in murder

March 26th, 2010 at 9:03am

Attorney David Replogle of San Francisco, Kaushal Niroula and three others have been charged with murdering a 74 year old Palm Springs retiree, Cliff Lambert, in order to take both his money and profit from the sale of Lambert’s home. If convicted, Replogle could face the death penalty or life in prison.

According to SF Gate, Replogle, Niroula and the others “fraudulently took ownership of three luxury condos in the city last year, then took out a $2.2 million equity loan and divided it up”. They did so, according to authorities, by assuming fake identities and conning real estate agents in order to get the keys before taking title to the condominiums located at One Rincon Hill.

When the real owner, Shirley Hwang, became suspicious after receiving mail addressed to one of the suspects, she checked city records, found the fraudulent sales and called police. Ms. Hwang is now suing the lender to get the sale rescinded.

“The breathtaking scope, complexity and theatrics of this scam and these con men rivals any Hollywood movie,” District Attorney Kamala Harris said. “Thanks to the hard work of the D.A.’s office and the SFPD, the story had the proper ending.”

Seven police agencies, including the SFPD and the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, raidedĀ  six Bay Area locations and arrested Jay Shah, 45, of San Jose on 19 criminal counts including conspiracy and theft, and his attorney, Melvin Emerich, 57, of Santa Cruz, on 13 counts. Winston Lum, 45, a former San Francisco tennis instructor, had already been arrested in February and charged with 21 counts. Lum is accused by prosecutors of forging the signature of the condo owner and granting himself the deed to the properties.

Read the full article in SF Gate. Read more of David Replogle’s alleged role in this bizarre story in SF Weekly , SF Weekly blog, True Crime Report and Fugitive.

Imposters indicted for loan modification fraud

March 26th, 2010 at 8:35am

Two San Diego men have been indicted by federal prosecutors have indicted for loan modification fraud.

Glenn Rosofsky and Michael Trap not only set up their business, Nations Housing Modification Center, to deceive distressed homeowners into thinking they were located near the White House, but they brazenly sent out their solicitation letters using the seal of the U.S. Congress. Trap has already pleaded guilty to conspiracy and money laundering.

Read the full article on ABC News.

Fontana women ran con to buy luxury cars, gamble

March 26th, 2010 at 8:11am

The U.S. Attorney’s office has announced sentencing for two Fontana women, who used the proceeds from a mortgage fraud scheme to buy luxury cars for themselves and to cover gambling debts.

US District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper sentenced Angela Cotton, 38, to five years in the federal penitentiary for operating the title company involved in the mortgage fraud conspiracy. Cotton found the properties used in the scheme and then used the credit of straw buyers such as Lisa Lievanos to secure loans and purchase the properties. For her part in the crimes, Lisa Lievanos, 45, received a sentence of a year and a day in prison.

Two others convicted in ripping off the banks were Terral Toole, 42, and Miles Davis, 47, a loan processor formerly from Reseda. Davis was sentenced to three years of probation, including six months of home detention, by Judge Cooper. Toole was sentenced to 85 months in prison by U.S. District Judge John F. Walter.

Both judges ordered restitution to the banks.

Read the original sentencing press release by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and a recent article in the San Bernardino Sun.

Former Wells Fargo manager accused in elder financial fraud

March 25th, 2010 at 10:39am

John Tran was a manager at a Wells Fargo branch located in Willow Glen. While there, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office, Tran befriended elderly customers of the bank, then stole their money. Tran has now been arraigned on multiple charges of theft from an elder, grand theft and forgery and is cooling his heels in jail.

Cherie Bourlard is a deputy district attorney and said there are at least 15 victims and possibly even more. At least $900,000 in losses to the elderly victims is involved.

Tran worked at Wells Fargo from March 2008 to February 2009. While there, he allegedly talked the elderly clients of the bank to invest in CDs but instead kept the money. He is also being investigated for forging bank documents and draining the accounts of deceased seniors.

Read the full article in the San Jose Mercury News.

Stanislaus County D.A. shifts its prosecutorial focus

March 25th, 2010 at 10:22am

Deputy District Attorney W.R. McKenzie, who is a prosecuter of real estate fraud with the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s office, says the D.A. is moving away from prosecuting people who took out “liar’s loans” and setting its sights instead on con artists who victimize people in real estate investment scams and other real estate fraud schemes.

Here are some of the cases that have been prosecuted by the Stanislaus County D.A.:

– Bounthavy Manivong, convicted of stealing $1 million from roughly 35 victims who believed they were investing in properties purchased by Manivong.

– Hector Leonel Picart, sentenced to four years in prison for stealing $18,500 from an elderly victim.

– Selena Corral, who pleaded no contest to one count of grand theft.

– David George and Lorna Martin forged documents to take out fraudulent loans at a brokerage where they worked.

Read the full article in the Modesto Bee.

Alta Loma escrow officer being sought by investigators

March 25th, 2010 at 10:06am

Realtors Dan and Cheree Griffith are among dozens of people claiming to be defrauded out of millions of dollars by Jodi Lee Nazir. Nazir, who ran an escrow company partially owned by the Griffiths, is being sought by investigators who want to arrest her on embezzlement and grand theft charges.

Jodi Lee Nazir is being accused by the San Bernardino District Attorney’s Office of cashing escrow and other checks at local banks after first scanning the checks and showing them as deposited to the escrow company.

Cheree Griffith says “over 200 employees and agents” lost their jobs as part of the scam, as well as buyers and sellers of homes. Says Dan Griffith, “We’ve lost our home, lost our retirement, lost everything.”

Read the full article in KABC-TV Los Angeles, aka Eyewitness News.

Chicago Title Corp accused of facilitating real estate fraud in San Diego

March 25th, 2010 at 9:56am

Rollo “Rick” Norton is a former financial planner. “Former” because he just pleaded guilty to mail fraud in connection with a real estate investment fraud in which 19 investors lost their money. But he is probably hoping his sentencing next month in San Diego Superior Court will be lighter because he pointed the finger at Chicago Title and Chicago Title Insurance, saying that their escrow office and a supervisor knew they were defrauding the investors in creating “phony real estate transactions” at the Crown Point Villas in San Diego’s Pacific Beach area.a

Michael Weaver, attorney for Chicago Title, countered that Norton, who is representing himself in court, is a liar. In addition, Weaver accused some of the plaintiffs of being participants in the fraud by providing false documents about their financial status and that the only victims were the banks they were defrauding.

Chicago Title Corp. is a subsidiary of Fidelity National Financial Inc.

Read the full article in Bloomberg Business Week.

Justice delayed is justice denied in Modestor real estate fraud

March 25th, 2010 at 9:41am

Attorney Mike Linn complained to Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge John Whiteside that his clients have been waiting five years to have their case against a real estate agent and her son heard. As a result, Judge Whiteside, the 13th judge in this case that has travailed civil, criminal and bankruptcy courts, ordered agent Erica Burdg and her son Carlos Obando to face a jury trial in September for charges of grand theft, forgery and perjury. The victims are Carlos Gonzales and Ernestina Vallardarez, who claim that Burdg and Obando took a down-payment for a house in Newman and monthly mortgage payments – and then sought to evict the couple.

Read the full story in the Merced Sun Star.

Prison time for San Diego real estate fraud execs

March 25th, 2010 at 9:25am

Here’s another cautionary tale to investors who think they can earn astronomical returns on their investments.

Luis Madrid and Richard Habib, both formerly of Corporate Funding Financial of America Inc., have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud and filing a false tax return. Madrid was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Marily Huff to eight years in federal prison, while Habib received a sentence of three years, 10 months. The admitted to defrauding investors out of $50 million and $20 million respectively.

The two con men told the investors they could earn returns of from 14 to 96 percent per year on promissory notes from mortgages but in fact they were running a Ponzi scheme and pocketing the investors’ money.

Read the full article in San Diego 6.

No One Would Listen – how Harry Markopolos hunted Bernard Madoff

March 14th, 2010 at 11:49am

Harry Markopolos’ much-awaited book on how he discovered and doggedly chased Bernie Madoff for ten years – is finally out.

Markopolos’ book is called No One Would Listen and is published by Wiley Publications. Lifting the veil on Madoff and his Ponzi scheme and occurring at the same time as the bursting of the real estate bubble, this book is a tale of a financial calamity unseen since the Great Depression.

A great story on Harry Markopolos, his hunt to bring down Madoff and his new book can be found in the New York Daily News. Monique Bryher posted a synopsis of Markopolos’ keynote speech at the July 2009 annual convention of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners in Las Vegas.

© 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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