California Real Estate Fraud Report

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Archive for May, 2015

Petaluma man arrested in alleged mortgage modification scam

May 29th, 2015 at 9:38am

California Department of Justice agents have arrested Miguel Angel Lopez-Soleta after an extended investigation into allegations by homeowners that he did not fulfill promises to them to negotiate with banks for their mortgages.

Lopez-Soleta is facing 46 counts of fraud, grand theft, financial crimes against the elderly and burglary in a case in which 23 alleged victims have been named. The victims sought out assistance with him and his former company Mortgage Modifiers Inc., for help in modifying loans.

Lopez-Soleta and his wife, Heidi Beth Marks-Lopez, filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2014. Their bankruptcy filing listed 537 creditors, many of whom claim that Lopez-Soleta charged them upfront fees (illegal since 2009) to help modify their home loans but never contact the lenders. As a result, some of those homeowners say they either lost their homes or were forced into even further debt.

Miguel Angel Lopez-Soleta’s real estate license was revoked in 2012. Click here to read a copy of the administrative action taken by the California Bureau of Real Estate.

Read the original article in the Press Democrat.

Straw buyers convicted in mortgage fraud case

May 29th, 2015 at 7:56am

A Sacramento jury has convicted six people who acted as straw buyers in the fraudulent purchase of homes located in Roseville, Sacramento and West Sacramento.

Irina Markevich, 30, of Rio Linda; Anatoliy Markevich, 35, of Sacramento; and Marina Pukhkan, 53, of Rio Linda were each convicted of two counts of wire fraud, according to a press release by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of California. Daniil Markevich, 38, and his wife, Svetlana Markevich, 38, both of Escondido, and Alex Markevich, 40, of Rio Linda were each convicted of one count of wire fraud.

During the 12-day trial, prosecutors presented evidence that  between February 2007 and March 2008, the straw buyers obtained home loans by submitting fraudulent loan applications and supporting documentation that also contained false information about their income, assets, bank accounts and intent to occupy the residences. The profits arose from puffing up the purchase prices and for payments  for non-existent construction work.

The defendants allowed all of the properties to go into foreclosure after making only a few payments.

 

New York Attorney General arrests man in Wells Fargo short sale fraud case

May 28th, 2015 at 9:34am

The office of New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has announced that Fedlaire Aristide of Freeport, N.Y. has been arrested in an alleged short sale fraud.

According to the indicment, Aristide is alleged to have submitted or assisted in the submission of documents that were forged and contained fraudulent information to Wells Fargo for the purposes of purchasing a home in Brooklyn at under-market value. He was also charged with taking thousands of dollars from a Brooklyn couple towards the purchase of that home. Aristide would have made a quick profit by “flopping” the home to the couple if the bank had approved the short sale. He refused to return their money when Wells Fargo rejected the sale.

“We have zero tolerance for anyone who steals from hard-working New Yorkers, especially those who use the promise of homeownership to do so,” said AG Schneiderman. “My office will continue to pursue justice against anyone who attempts to profit from mortgage fraud.”

 

Read the original story in National Mortgage Professional.

Two plead guilty to short sale fraud in Virginia

May 28th, 2015 at 9:06am

The following is a press release from the FBI:

WASHINGTON—An Ashburn, Virginia resident was convicted today by a federal jury on 13 charges related to mortgage fraud, passing fictitious financial instruments, and tax fraud, the Department of Justice announced.

Charise Stone, 46, was indicted on April 15, 2014. According to court records and evidence at trial, Stone targeted distressed homeowners from 2007 to 2010 who owed more on their mortgage loan than the market value of the home with false promises of financial recovery. Stone acquired distressed homeowners’ properties in her own name or under entities she controlled, made false representations to mortgage lenders in order to induce approval of the short sales, and then re-sold the properties—often the same day or the next—to new buyers at a price above the short sale amount, in violation of agreements made with mortgage lenders.

Jose Marinay http://www.justice.gov/usao-edva/pr/head-annandale-settlement-company-pleads-guilty-over-2-million-short-sale-mortgage owned a settlement company that closed every short sale transaction for Stone. Marinay pleaded guilty to wire-fraud conspiracy on May 27, 2014. At his and Stone’s direction, fraudulent HUD-1 settlement statements were prepared to facilitate the transactions. Marinay destroyed some of the incriminating documents after closings. Financial institutions suffered losses of at least $2.2 million from the scheme. Stone profited more than $700,000 from these transactions but failed to file individual income tax returns. She also sent fictitious bonds to the IRS in an attempt to pay off her tax liability, and she sent fake international promissory notes to creditors purporting to satisfy her credit card debt as well as her mortgage loan.

Stone faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for each of the wire fraud and wire-fraud conspiracy charges, 30 years in prison for the charges of false statements to a bank, 25 years in prison for the fictitious obligation charges, three years for the charge of corruptly impeding the internal revenue laws, and one year for each count of willful failure to file a tax return at her Aug. 14 sentencing.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Caroline D. Ciraolo of the Justice Department’s Tax Division, U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente, of the Eastern District of Virginia, Assistant Director in Charge Andrew G. McCabe of the FBI’S Washington Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Kelly, of the Internal Revenue Service -Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Washington, D.C. Field Office, made the announcement after the verdict was accepted by U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office and IRS-C I. Assistant U.S. Attorney Uzo Asonye and Assistant Chief Todd Ellinwood of the Tax Division are prosecuting the case.

Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Courthttp://www.vaed.uscourts.gov for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACERhttps://pcl.uscourts.gov by searching for Case No. 1:14-CR-127.

Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found on the division’s website http://www.justice.gov/tax/.

New program by Solano County District Attorney to make stealing homes more difficult

May 27th, 2015 at 8:41am

The Solano County District Attorney’s Office has developed a new programr that seeks to prevent theft of a person’s home by fraudsters (title fraud).

The Real Estate Fraud Notification will electronically scan documents in the Assessor/Recorder’s Office that would transfer title in any manner, then mail a letter to the person paying the property taxes with a copy of the recorded document to alert them. If that person is unaware of the transaction resulting in the recorded document, they should contact the District Attorney’s Office.

Read the original article in The Reporter.

Tulare County DA investigator honored

May 27th, 2015 at 8:37am

The following is a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California:

FRESNO — U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced Dwayne Johnson, an investigator with the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office, as the 2014 winner of the Eastern District of California Law Enforcement Award for Outstanding Investigator in the Fresno Division.

The award is one of four presented annually to a law enforcement agency and an officer in each of the Sacramento and Fresno divisions of the Eastern District of California to recognize outstanding collaboration between federal, state and local law enforcement in addressing public safety issues in the region.

Johnson was recognized for his work with the San Joaquin Valley Mortgage Fraud Task Force. He worked closely with the Fresno U.S. Attorney’s Office and its partner federal law enforcement agencies in leading several mortgage-fraud-related investigations and prosecutions that have targeted large-scale fraud schemes, yielded guilty pleas and vindicated the rights of countless victims.

“I am proud of the well-deserved recognition given to Investigator Johnson for showing instinct and professionalism to help bring justice to the numerous victims of this scam,” said Tulare County District Attorney Tim Ward.

In May 2013, Johnson was the lead investigator in a fraudulent foreclosure rescue business case. On the basis of a single complaint, Johnson commenced a long-term investigation that ultimately uncovered a fraud scheme that victimized dozens of homeowners in numerous counties, many of whom eventually lost their houses in foreclosure. Johnson prepared and undertook the execution of several search warrants, reviewed thousands of pages of documents, conducted dozens of witness interviews, and planned and executed various undercover operations. Juan Ramon Curiel and Santiago Palacios-Hernandez pleaded guilty in December 2014 and admitted they had caused more than $2.5 million in losses to more than 50 vulnerable homeowners and financial institutions.

“The financial crisis hit our communities particularly hard and over the past six years our office has taken a leading role in prosecuting those who engaged in mortgage fraud to enrich themselves while harming our economy and driving down the value of our neighborhoods,” said Wagner said. “Our success was only possible because of dedicated, hard-working law enforcement officers like Investigator Johnson. My office, the Eastern District, and Tulare County all owe a great debt to Investigator Johnson and his many skilled and dedicated colleagues in local law enforcement who do the heavy lifting in protecting our communities.”

Johnson is nine-year veteran of the District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigations. He has enjoyed a distinguished career in law enforcement having served with the Fresno Police Department and the FBI. He began his law-enforcement career as a correctional officer in the U.S. Army.

Former Bakersfield Real Estate Agent Sentenced for Mortgage Fraud Scheme

May 22nd, 2015 at 9:04am

The following is a press release from the FBI’s website:

FRESNO, CA—Arlene Jeanette Mojardin, 32, of Bakersfield, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Anthony W. Ishii to two years and six months in prison for conspiring to commit bank fraud, mail fraud, and wire fraud, in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme in Bakersfield, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.

According to court documents, from 2007 to 2010, Mojardin conspired with others to use straw buyers to purchase residential properties in Bakersfield. They paid straw buyers to purchase properties developed by Jara Brothers Investments (JBI) and Pershing Partners LLC and funded the purchases using loans they obtained based on false and fraudulent loan applications. The loan applications contained false statements concerning the straw buyers’ employment status, income, assets, intent to occupy the properties as their personal residences, and the source for the down payments for the purchase of the properties. The conspirators concealed from the lenders that the property developers funded some down payments. They submitted false supporting documentation to lenders such as false and altered bank account statements purporting to show that the straw buyers had high bank account balances, false verifications of the straw buyers’ bank account funds, false verifications of rent purporting to be from the straw buyers’ landlords, false pay stubs, and false verifications of employment.

Mojardin was a licensed real estate agent and handled many of the real estate transactions in furtherance of the conspiracy. She was also employed at relevant times at JBI, was a property buyer from Pershing Partners on at least two of the real estate transactions in the conspiracy, and obtained loans based on false and fraudulent information. Mojardin received proceeds from the conspiracy including payments for purchasing property as a nominee buyer and payments for acting as the real estate agent on many of the other transactions in the conspiracy. Mojardin admitted she caused lenders approximately $3,713,600 in losses due to her role in the conspiracy.

This case is the product of a joint investigation by the Internal Revenue Service—Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kirk E. Sherriff, Henry Z. Carbajal III, and Megan A. S. Richards are prosecuting the case.

Co-defendant Antonio Perez-Marcial was sentenced on May 12, 2014, to three years and 10 months in prison for his role in the conspiracy. Co-defendant Candace Gonzales previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, mail fraud, and wire fraud, and her sentencing is set for June 8, 2015. Co-defendant Ricardo Salinas previously pleaded guilty to bank fraud, and his sentencing is set for June 29, 2015. Co-defendant Melissa Jara pleaded guilty to wire fraud and her sentencing is set for June 22, 2015. Co-defendants Eliseo and Sergio Jara previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, mail fraud, and wire fraud, and their sentencing hearings are set for June 22, 2015. Co-defendants Lucia and Joseph Chavez previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, mail fraud, and wire fraud and their sentencing hearings are set for July 20, 2015.

The charges were brought in connection with the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The task force was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices, and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets; and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Since fiscal year 2009, the Justice Department has filed over 18,000 financial fraud cases against more than 25,000 defendants. For more information on the task force, please visit www.StopFraud.gov.

Note: Arlene Jeanette Mojardin’s real estate license was revoked in March 2014 by the California Bureau of Real Estate.

Man who pleaded guilty to real estate fraud charged with same offense

May 22nd, 2015 at 8:54am

A Modesto  who pleaded guilty to stealing over $1 million from investors in California and Texas has been arrested and charged with two felony counts of grand theft.

In the newest case, Xue Heu, 37, is accused of using the same tactics to scam another victim out of $6,000.

Xue Heu defies the court order and continues to defraud victims,” wrote  Glenn Gulley, an investigator with the district attorney’s real estate fraud unit in a document filed in Stanislaus Superior Court.

Read the original article in the Modesto Bee.

Fighter Chuck Liddell suing title, escrow companies in failed Vista del Hombre development

May 22nd, 2015 at 7:55am

Former fighting champion Chuck Liddell  is suing Cuesta Title Company, Stewart Title of California and Stewart Title Guaranty for the losses he suffered in the failed $24 million golf course development known as Vista del Hombre.

Liddell’s friend Kelly Gearhart, the developer of the project and a former Atascadero Citizen of the Year, is awaiting sentencing on federal fraud charges June 1. Because he filed bankruptcy, 500 of the investors are suing the title companies, claiming they were part of Gearhart’s Ponzi scheme.

Defense counsel for Cuesta Title is claiming that it knew nothing about the fraud or Ponzi scheme orchestrated by Gearhart and that it did its job as an escrow company.

Read the original article in The Tribune.

Note: there are many earlier articles about Kelly Gearhart, which you can find by searching this blog.

 

Newbury Park man suspected of elder financial abuse – again

May 15th, 2015 at 10:09am

Newbury Park resident Rod Scott Hormell has been arrested on suspicion of elder financial abuse, according to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office.

Hormell, 59, is on probation following his conviction in 2013 for taking money from an 89-year-old man. In the current case, a relative reported that hormell embezzled $100,000 from a family member.

Read the original 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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