California Real Estate Fraud Report

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Archive for January, 2011

Investigators Fear Dozens of Victims in Loan Modification Scam

January 28th, 2011 at 8:19am

A Salinas woman arrested in December after falsely holding herself out as both a real estate agent and mortgage broker may have victimized up to 80 people.

Blanca Maciel Sanchez has pleaded not guilty to mortgage fraud, embezzlement, forgery and grand theft, according to the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office. She solicited homeowners in distress to modify their loans under her businesses Maciel Financial Services and First Continental Mortgage and asked for money upfront, which is illegal in California. Not only did here clients lose their homes to foreclosure, but Sanchez is alleged to have used their financial information to open accounts to pay her own bills.

Read the full article in the Californian.

Attorney and Wife Convicted of Elaborate Real Estate Fraud in Fresno

January 28th, 2011 at 8:06am

A Fresno attorney, his wife and a third person have been convicted in a scheme that covered multiple areas of real estate fraud: title fraud, escrow fraud and use of straw buyers to commit mortgage fraud.

In a joint announcement, U.S. Attorney José Angel Moreno, FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard C. Powers and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations Special Agent in Charge Rodney E. Clarke, said that a jury in U.S. District Judge Sim Lake’s Courtroom found Vincent Wallace Aldridge, Tori Elyse Aldridge and Gilbert Barry Isgar guilty of multiple charges of wire fraud and money laundering.

Vincent Aldridge is a former fee attorney for First Southwestern Title Company and attorney for Aldridge and Associates. Tori Elyse Aldridge worked for First Southwestern Title Company and Gilbert Barry Isgar, a co-owner of Waterford Homes.

The sophisticated real estate fraud began with Isgar inflating the prices of the homes he was selling and Vincent Aldridge recruiting straw buyers for a so-called property investments. He submitted false loan applications to lenders and promised $10,000 to the straw buyers for the use of their credit after escrow closed on the homes. Both Aldridges controlled First Southwestern Title, which they used to fabricate additional attorney’s fee and contractor work (on new homes!) as part of an agreement between themselves and Gilbert Isgar. They then laundered the money to Aldridge’s law firm. None of the illegal proceeds were reported on the HUD Settlement Statements, so lenders were unaware of them.

Read the full article in Fort Bend Now.

Pearl Harbor Veteran Possible Victim of Elder Financial Abuse

January 28th, 2011 at 7:46am

The caretaker for a 93 year-old man in El Cajon has been charged with elder financial fraud / elder financial abuse for allegedly stealing money from his bank accounts, failing to take care of him.

Milagros Angeles, 63, has been charged with four felony counts of elder abuse, theft, forgery and false imprisonment with respect to Arnold V. Bauer. Alert officials at Bauer’s bank became suspicious of the bank withdrawals and alerted San Diego County Adult Protective Services. They in turn notified the San Diego County Sheriff, whose deputies found Bauer living in filty conditions, holding a photo of the repair ship Vestal, where he was stationed during the attack on Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941.

Read the full article in the Los Angeles Times.

San Marcos Man Gets 5 Years for Loan Modification Scam

January 26th, 2011 at 8:21am

Glenn Michael Rosofsky, 44, has been sentenced to five years and three months in prison after pleading guilty to operating a loan modification scam. His partner, Michael Trap, had previously pleaded guilty.

In April 2009, long after there was publicity by authorities about loan modification fraud, Rosofsky and Trap opened a mortgage rescue business that operated under the names Nations Housing Modification Center and Federal Housing Modification Department, charging distressed homeowners from $2,500 to $3,000. They told the homeowners they had “forensic accountants” on staff but in truth there were none.

Glenn Rosofsky and Michael Trap were only in business for a few months before authorities caught up with them. Rosofsky has been ordered by U.S. District Judge Roger T. Benitez to repay $450,000 to his victims.

Read the full article in the North County Times.

Home Operator Charged in Elder Financial Fraud

January 24th, 2011 at 4:14pm

A 54 year-old woman is going before a preliminary hearing, facing financial elder abuse, forgery and possible additional charges.

Maria Corazon Park is accused of embezzling up to $665,000 from two elderly residents living at one of her care facilities. One of them was 89 years old, the other 91. Apparently, an employee at a Wells Fargo branch became suspicious and alerted authorities.

Read the full article on KGTV San Diego.

Real Estate Appraiser Blew the Whistle on Crisp & Cole

January 24th, 2011 at 4:05pm

It was simple comparable sales that did David Crisp and Carl Cole in; some might call it appraisal fraud.

Bakersfield appraiser Gary Crabtree was just going about his normal business back in 2006, writing residential appraisals based on comparable sales, when he realized something was wrong. The Bakersfield Police Department wasn’t trained to deal with this kind of crime, especially on the level Crabtree suspected. So he called the FBI.

“I knew it was going to be inevitable, just a matter of time. I first discovered all the fraud as a normal course of duty as an appraiser because we verify comparable sales. And, when I started seeing sales that didn’t make any sense in the market, I started doing additional work and uncovered this can of worms.” Crabtree’s investigation eventually brought down a lucrative real estate brokerage, resulting in allegations of mortgage fraud and criminal charges now being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

By blowing the whistle on Crisp and Cole, Crabtree suffered the wrath of mortgage brokers, who stopped sending him appraisals, costing him a drop of 30%.

Doing the right thing can be very expensive.

Read the full article on KGET.com.

Crisp and Cole Ran “Mortgage Fraud Factory”

January 24th, 2011 at 3:48pm

According to federal authorities, David Crisp and Carl Cole, the high-flying real estate agents and mortgage brokers of Bakersfield, ran a “full-fledged mortgage fraud factory. Although Crisp and Cole lost their real estate licenses in 2008, it is not until now that they, some of their relatives and employees have been criminally charged with fraud, money laundering and conspiracy in a 56-count indictment.

Estimates by the FBI and prosecutors in the U.S. Attorneys Office are that Crisp, Cole and Associates may have stolen more than $20 million, alleging that they and their business associates falsified loan documents, bought, sold and resold homes they purchased with inflated appraisals in as little as a few weeks.

Ten people have been arrested in the sweep: David Crisp, Jennifer Crisp (David’s wife), Carl Cole, Caleb Cole (Carl’s son) and employees Jayson Costa, Julie Farmer, Sneha Mohammadi, Mike Munoz, Robinson Nguyen and Jeriel Salinas.

David Crisp’s in-laws — Kevin and Leslie Sluga and Megan Balod have already accepted plea deals for fraud and aiding and abetting. It was Kevin Sluga, a former CPA, who falsified many of the loan documents submitted to Tower Lending, the mortgage firm owned by Crisp and Carl Cole. Christopher Stovall and Jerald Teixeira, who were loan officers, have also accepted pleas.

FBI Special Agent Manuel Alvarez noted that the alleged crimes, including mortgage fraud, are costly to taxpayers in the cases where the loans were guaranteed, as well as costly to people who purchased homes nearby based on the appraisals. *Note: as of this writing, no appraisers have been charged with appraisal fraud and no persons have been charged with escrow fraud.

Read the full article in the Bakersfield Californian.

Here is an article about how local real estate professionals feel about Crisp and Cole.

Gary Armitage Ponzi Scheme Trial Delayed 3rd Time

January 20th, 2011 at 9:59pm

Gary Armitage, who along with co-defendant James Koenig is accused of running a Ponzi scheme under his former investment firm AGA Financial in Santa Rosa, has had his trial for financial fraud and burglary delayed for a third time. The Shasta County Public Defender’s Office is defending Koenig. When Armitage’s attorney resigned in order to work for the Public Defender, conflict-of-interest rules required him to be assigned another attorney.

The new trial is set for August 9; both men have been jailed since May 2009.

The state Attorney General’s Offices accuses the two men of running a real estate fraud / Ponzi scheme that cheated over 2,000 people, many of them elderly (elder financial fraud) out of more than $200 million.

There are earlier posts about the alleged crimes of Gary Armitage and James Koenig in the California Real Estate Fraud Report.

Read the full article in the Press Democrat.

Stanislaus County Sees Mortgage Elimination Scams

January 20th, 2011 at 9:47pm

The latest real estate fraud that authorities are seeing are mortgage elimination scams.

Glenn Gulley, an investigator with the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office, says that con artists are targeting Latinos whose homes are in foreclosure. The victims pay a processing fee of $1,000 to $3,000 and are told they can get a new mortgage for 25% of what their current mortgage is. The criminals file a new conveyance, claiming that the loan has been paid off. Of course, the legal lender continues with its foreclosure proceedings and the borrower loses his or her home along with the fees.

Kurt F. Johnson and Dale Scott Heineman ran their mortgage elimination scams through the Dorean Group and were sentenced three years ago to prison terms of 25 years and 21 years for stealing from 3,500 victims across 35 states.

Last month, a federal grand jury in Los Angeles indicted Henrik and Hamlet Sardariani on charges they filed fraudulent reconveyances. If convicted, the brothers coud receive sentences of 115 years in prison.

Read the full article in the Modesto Bee.

4 Charged in Ventura County Latino Affinity Fraud

January 14th, 2011 at 8:49am

Four people have been charged with felonies by Ventura County prosecutors for allegedly operating a fraudulent home foreclosure rescue program from an Oxnard business called USA Home Recovery Service. USA Home Recovery Service has received a grade of “F” by the Better Business Bureau.

Maria Victoria Santos, 55, of Ventura, Felipe Carlos Segovia Castro, 67, of Moreno Valley; Laura Cecilia Carlson, 64, of Hacienda Heights; and Margie Joanna Vargas, 22, of Orange, are accused of targeting predominantly monolingual Spanish-speaking clients facing foreclosure on their homes and charging them thousands of dollars in upfront fees (mortgage rescue scams, mortgage rescue fraud, foreclosure fraud).

Laura Carlson is a licensed real estate sales agent but as of this writing shows no disciplinary action by the California Department of Real Estate (DRE).

If you believe you are a victim of these suspects, please contact the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office Real Estate Fraud Unit at 662-1750.

Read the full article in the Ventura County Star.

© 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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