July 30th, 2012 at 8:34am
Three Los Angeles men have been charged with foreclosure consultant fraud and grand theft by the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office for operating an alleged home loan modification scam.
Nino Vera, 52, Rene Solis, 52, and Hector Menendez, 56 ran the ersatz foreclosure rescue program under the business name Sunset Beach Management. They are accused of charging advance fees (illegal under SB 94 passed in 2009) of several thousand dollars each from homeowners in exchange for promising to modify their home loans and prevent foreclosure.
The investigation was carried out by the Ventura County District Attorney’s real estate fraud unit.
Read the original article in the Ventura County Star.
July 27th, 2012 at 9:06am
The $142 million mortgage fraud and securities fraud trial for Hendrix Montecastro and his mother Helen Pedrino have been moved to October 9.
Hendrix Montecastro and Helen Pedrino were arrested in 2009 on charges they were part of a real estate investment fraud conspiracy headed by James Duncan. The real outcome was that many investors lost their savings, retirement accounts and even their homes as a result of alleged false promises to earn large returns.
James Duncan and defendants Maurice McLeod, Charlie Sung Choi, Thuan Nhan Du and Cindi Gayle Kelly have already pleaded guilty.
Read the original article in the Press Enterprise. There are also several earlier postings on Hendrix Montecastro and Helen Pedrino in the California Real Estate Fraud Report. Use the Search feature on the left side of this blog to find those articles.
July 27th, 2012 at 8:56am
A former Carmel real estate broker has pleaded guilty to federal wire fraud and money laundering as a result of a high-end golf course project in Fresno. He could receive up to 20 years in federal prison when he is sentenced this November U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh.
Thomas J. O’Meara III was the president of Cypress Investment Corp. in Carmel. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office of Northern California, O’Meara, defrauded more than 50 investors in the Running Horse Golf and Country Club project out of more than $16 million. O’Meara’s license to practice real estate was revoked in 2008.
O’Meara’s plea deal includes paying restitution of $7 million in restitution to his victims, some of whom lost millions, such as the family of Carmel real estate broker Joyce Scampa. Prosecuters stated that total losses were $25 million.
The Running Horse Golf and Country Club was a speculative 450-acre development that apparently attracted investors with its golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus and 780 upper-end homes. None of the homes were ever built and only two holes of the golf course were completed.
Read the original article in the Monterey County Herald.
July 27th, 2012 at 8:42am
The Solano County District Attorney’s Office has received a $228,526 state grant to fight real estate fraud. The money will be used to investigate and prosecute real estate fraud, mortgage fraud, provide consumer education and staff training. In addition, some of the funds will be used to pay the salaries of a part-time investigator and part-time district attorney, according to Chief Investigator Kurtis Cardwell.
The source of the funds is the Foreclosure Crisis Recovery Fund, which was set up by California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris following the stipulated judgment the state received in its lawsuit against Countrywide Financial Corporation.
The Solano County District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit can be reached by calling (866) 463-6380.
Read the press release in the Times-Herald.
July 27th, 2012 at 8:33am
Ziad Nabil Mohammed Al Saffar
must serve 21 months and Sara Beth Bushore Rosengrant
received a sentence of 12 months of home detention and three-years probation. Both criminals confessed that they did indeed run a “loan audit” and loan modification scam under the business names of Compliance Audit Solutions Inc
. and CAS Group Inc
., soliciting their victims through their website www.HAMPnow.org
. The third man, Daniel Al Saffar
, acknowledged his role as a sales representative; for his crimes, he was sentenced to six months of home detention as part of a three-year term of probation.In addition to the successful prosecutions, each defendant paid restitution of $30,000 and Ziad Nabil Mohammed Al Saffar
, who is not a U.S. citizen, agreed to be deported after he is released from prison.
Read the original article in MortgageOrb.
July 27th, 2012 at 8:18am
A man who surrendered his real estate broker’s license in 2011 after an investigation by the California Department of Real Estate has now had his firm sued by an Oakland law firm for allegedly committing loan modification fraud.
William Hogarty’s defunct firm, OF Lending Group, aka Olympia Funding, is the target of 22 Californians who are represented by David Tubman of the Tubman Law Group. Even Hogarty’s current and former wives have joined the lawsuit, which claims that OF Lending promised its prospective clients a “short pay refinance” in exchange for upfront fees. This very creative refinance (meaning it is bogus) purportedly would refinance the borrower’s mortgage at current market rates.
Upfront or advance fees have been illegal since SB 94 was passed in 2009.
Hogarty has filed for bankruptcy protection in federal court but even the federal bankruptcy trustees have challenged his attempt to use bankruptcy to shield himself from his from clients.
The lawsuit accuses William Hogarty of (illegally) charging advance fees for loan modifications, failing to place the monies in a trust account, and (surprise) taking the clients’ funds for his own use, all “with the intent to hinder, delay or defraud creditors.”
The lawsuit is Cunniff, et. al. v. OF Lending Group, et. al., Case No. RG 12640691 and was filed in Alameda County Superior Court.
This post is an abstract of the press release from the Tubman Law Group and ABC7 News.
July 26th, 2012 at 11:31am
U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced that brothers Ali Khalil, 32, Amanullah Khalil, 39, and Wahidullah Khalil, 27, have all pleaded guilty to various financial crimes related to mortgage fraud.
Ironically (or not), Ali Khalil was formerly a police officer in Elk Grove and earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. He pleaded guilty to wire fraud and structuring financial transactions to evade currency transaction reporting requirements (the $10,000 limit that triggers reporting requirements.
Amanullah Khalil pleaded guilty to making false statements on a loan application (loan fraud, mortgage fraud).
Wahidullah Khalil was previously in banking and holds a bachelor degree in criminal justice. He pleaded guilty to structuring financial transactions to evade currency transaction reporting requirements, like Ali did.
Apparently all three defendants embarked on parallel paths of loan fraud and mortgage fraud in order to obtain loans. Each submitted loan applications with false information in order to each purchase or refinance homes. Each took the proceeds and made deposits of less than $10,000 on consecutive days in order to evade the bank reporting requirements. And each got caught.
U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell will pronounce their sentences in November.
Read the original article in the Sacramento Bee.
July 24th, 2012 at 3:07pm
Three people who California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris’ office accused of running a loan modification scam that fleeced homeowners in financial distress have been ordered to pay-up for their crimes.
Zulmai Nazarzai, Hakimullah Sarpas and Fasela Sheren (aka Sharon Fasela), all of Statewide Financial Group, Inc., were were all found liable for violating California’s Unfair Competition Law and False Advertising Law at a bench trial held in Orange County Superior Court. Statewide Financial Group did business as US Homeowners Assistance and Webeatallrates.com. They were ordered by the judge to pay $4 million in penalties, which includes $2 million for lying (ok: “falsely promising”) to their victims that they would get loan modifications and another $2 million in penalties.
Whether any of that money will ever be collected is in question. Zulmai Nazarzai was previously prosecuted by AG Harris’ Office for contempt of court for refusing to return $360,000 as ordered by the court. Since he has refused to comply with the court’s order, he remains in the Orange County jail.
Read the press release from the Office of the California Attorney General’s website.
July 20th, 2012 at 10:59am
A former Arizona lawmaker who was once the chairman of that state’s House Judiciary Committee but left office after being pleading guilty in the AzScam bribery scheme of politicians in 1990 is now a wanted man.
Donald James Kenney used the clean record of his son, Donald John Kenney, to get a fraudulent real estate broker’s license in San Diego County after he was released from prison. He was a broker for Coldwell Banker and apparently operated a legitimate real estate practice for 14 years until the long arm of the law – in this case California Department of Real Estate – caught up with him. The DRE ordered the elder Kenney to stop practicing real estate and referred the matter to the San Diego police, who filed charges of perjury in the obtaining of his real estate broker’s license and various identity theft crimes. The son has stated he did not give his father permission to “borrow” his clean identity.
Donald John Kenney surrendered the real estate license that was in his son’s name.
Read the original article in the San Diego Union Tribune.
July 20th, 2012 at 10:16am
San Fernando Valley resident Anthony Lewis, 39, is going to have a new address, as he has been sentenced by U.S. District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez to 57 months in federal prison for his part in a $4 million mortgage fraud conspiracy. Judge Gutierrez also ordered Lewis to pay restitution of approximately $4.1 million.
Lewis was apparently the bird-dog who found houses for sale and gave phony loan applications to loan processors Jennifer Le, Matthew Balsz (formerly of US Bank) and Freddy Lentz (formerly of Bank of America). Balsz and Lentz were charged with accepting bribes to push the loan approval through underwriting. Deon Jackson, a mortgage broker from Gardena, helped Lewis correct loan applications so that they would qualify for funding.
Escrow officer Maria Arriaza of Diamond Clear Escrow in Granada Hills, has already been convicted for diverting funds intended for the home purchasers to the various conspirators.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Goorvitch.
Read the original article in the Daily News.