California Real Estate Fraud Report

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Archive for September, 2016

Always Hire a Professional

September 30th, 2016 at 7:58am

Looking up properties on Zillow or Redfin doesn’t make you a real estate agent. Do it right: hire a licensed professional.

No Justice, Say Victims of Petaluma Real Estate Agent in Mortgage Fraud

September 30th, 2016 at 7:46am

Victims of a Petaluma real estate agent whom prosecutors ripping off at least 100 persons in the  Bay Area in an alleged mortgage fraud scam are outraged at the terms of his settlement with state prosecutors.

Miguel Angel Lopez-Soleta, 44, pleaded no contest to felony grand theft and embezzlement from an elderly person through his Rohnert Park business, Mortgage Modifiers, in 2012.

Lopez-Soleta will only serve one year in jail and receive five years of probation.

According to former client Robert Gillis, whose mother lost her Novato home to foreclosure because of Lopez-Soleta, “It’s totally unacceptable. None of the victims agree with it. They are so upset.”

Caroline S. Chen, the deputy attorney general handling the case for Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, did not return a call Thursday seeking comment.

The only good bit of news is that the real estate license of Miguel Angel Lopez-Soleta has been revoked by the California Bureau of Real Estate.

Read the full article in the Press Democrat.

 

 

CoreLogic: Mortgage Fraud Risk Increased 3.9% in 2nd Quarter of 2016

September 30th, 2016 at 7:33am

The risk of fraud in applications for mortgages increased in the second quarter – and the trend will likely continue as credit loosens and purchases increase, CoreLogic says in its latest Mortgage Fraud Risk report.

Read the full article on MortgageOrb.

Ventury County Woman Goes to Prison for Foreclosure Consultant Fraud

September 30th, 2016 at 7:29am

Sixty-one-year-old Gregoria Mendoza was sentenced by Ventura Superior Court Judge Ryan Wright to seven years and four months in state prison after she pleaded guilty to multiple counts of grand theft and one count of foreclosure consultant fraud.

Mendoza, a resident of Oak View, was also ordered to pay over $470,000 in restitution to her victims.

Mendoza operated six or more real estate investment schemes according to the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office, snagging investors from Ventura, Los Angeles and Tulare counties.

Read the full article in the VCStar / Ventura County Star.

Florida Real Estate Agent Being Prosecuted for Bankruptcy Fraud, Short Sale Fraud

September 22nd, 2016 at 7:34pm

Reafael Sanchez, an Orange County, Florida real estate agent, is facing charges after federal prosecutors said he devised a short sale fraud scheme.

Sanchez is alleged to have concocted a  scheme to help owners in foreclosure to file fraudulent bankruptcy paperwork. The bankruptcy stays would possibly give Sanchez enough time to conduct a short sale of the properties and earn himself a commission.

Federal prosecutors, though, said that over a two-year period, Sanchez collected money and assisted at least 30 homeowners facing foreclosure in filing fraudulent bankruptcies. All of the bankruptcies he helped his clients file were dismissed in 14 or 15 days, according to bankruptcy attorney Scott Shuker.

Sanchez, who faces up to five years in prison, has agreed to make a plea in the case, but a date hasn’t been set.

Read the original article in WFTV Orlando.

Roseville Woman Sentenced to 14.5 Years in Prison for Mortgage Fraud and Identity Theft

September 21st, 2016 at 8:20am

The following is a press release from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California:

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez sentenced Rachel Siders, 41, of Roseville, to 14 and a half years in prison for her involvement in mortgage fraud schemes that cost financial institutions over $17 million, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

Federal juries returned verdicts in two trials, in March 2015 and December 2015 finding her guilty of multiple counts of bank fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, making a false loan application, and committing aggravated identity theft.

According to evidence presented at the first trial, in 2008 Siders and co-defendant Theo Adams, 50, of Roseville, applied for a home equity line of credit using his relative’s name on an underwater Roseville property owned by Adams. They submitted false tax returns in the relative’s name with significantly inflated income along with mortgage application documents with forged signatures. Siders, a notary public, falsely notarized the loan application documents, which were sent to Washington Mutual Bank. The bank relied upon the false documents to provide a $250,000 line of credit. Siders received $170,000 of the proceeds. After making minimal payments, the defendants defaulted on the loan.

According to evidence presented at the second trial, from mid-2006 through early 2008, Siders and Vera Kuzmenko, 46, of Loomis, and other defendants engaged in a mortgage fraud scheme involving over 30 properties in the Sacramento area. They secured more than $30 million in residential mortgage loans on more than 30 homes purchased through straw buyers. The loan applications contained materially false information as to the straw buyers’ income, employment, assets, and intent to occupy the residences. Records introduced at trial showed that Vera Kuzmenko received millions of dollars, and that Rachel Siders received hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Vera Kuzmenko, was a licensed real estate agent for part of the scheme, and Rachel Siders ran the Rocklin office of the escrow company used on the majority of the transactions. She helped funnel millions of dollars to her co-defendants, which was not disclosed to the lenders.

“The sentence today reflects the seriousness of Siders’ crimes, which included participation in two separate mortgage fraud schemes. Over the course of two years, Siders oversaw and participated in numerous fraudulent loans and diverted money into shell accounts for her own benefit. She abused her position as an escrow officer and as a notary public to make this criminal enterprise succeed,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Talbert. “The sentence imposed is a significant reminder that those who engage in such conduct will be held accountable.”

“Today’s sentence sends a clear message; anyone profits from fraudulent mortgage transactions—whether by creating the scheme or facilitating it—will not escape justice,” said Supervisory Special Agent Dan Bryant at the FBI Sacramento field office. “The FBI aggressively pursues those involved in such large-scale, complex financial fraud matters to seek justice for the victims and protect the regional economy.”

“Rachel Siders was driven by greed in her participation in this mortgage fraud which targeted the Sacramento area,” said Michael T. Batdorf, Special Agent in Charge, IRS‑Criminal Investigation. “Today’s sentencing is a reminder how serious our courts consider this criminal activity and our commitment in providing financial expertise to our federal partners in these types of crimes.”

This case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lee S. Bickley, Michael D. Anderson, and Matthew D. Segal prosecuted the case.

On March 15, 2016, Judge Mendez sentenced Vera Kuzmenko to 14 years in prison. She was found guilty of multiple counts of mail and wire fraud, money laundering and witness tampering. On April 19, 2016, Theo Adams, 50, of Roseville, was sentenced to two years in prison. Previously, Judge Mendez sentenced co-defendants Peter Kuzmenko, 38, of West Sacramento, to 19 years in prison; Aaron New, 42, of Sacramento, to 11 years and three months in prison; Nadia Kuzmenko, 37, formerly of Loomis, to eight years in prison; and Edward Shevtsov, 52, of North Highlands, to eight years in prison. They were found guilty on February 13, 2015, after a 21-day trial, of multiple counts of mail and wire fraud associated with the mortgage fraud scheme. In addition, Peter Kuzmenko, Edward Shevtsov, and Aaron New were found guilty of money laundering associated with the scheme, and Nadia Kuzmenko was found guilty of witness tampering.

 

Utah man charged in real estate investment scam targeting Orange County investors

September 16th, 2016 at 9:21am

SANTA ANA, California – A Utah man has been arrested for his role in a real estate fraud scheme in which Southern California investors collectively suffered nearly $3.5 million in losses.

Shawn Patrick Watkins, 46, of Layton, Utah, was taken into custody on September 1 when he surrendered to FBI agents in Orange County. Watkins had been charged with mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering in a nine-count indictment returned on August 17 by a federal grand jury.

Watkins and others offered investments in a company known as The Equity Growth Group (TEGG) between approximately 2007 through 2014. According to the indictment, the victims were solicited during seminars in Orange County hotels offered by Investor Workshops, Inc., in which Watkins presented himself as an expert in the field of real estate investment. In order to lend credibility to the scheme, Watkins attempted to gain trust by telling investors that he was formerly employed as a law enforcement officer.

As part of the solicitations, Watkins made omissions and false promises to investors. For example, the indictment alleges that Watkins falsely told investors that TEGG controlled hundreds of properties that generated rental income and TEGG would continue its growth by acquiring new properties. Watkins led investors to believe that they would receive substantial interest payments or that their money would be secured by collateral through the filing of deeds of trust on properties.

In reality, over the course of the several years, until the scheme collapsed in the spring of 2014, TEGG was not acquiring new properties and had a negative cash flow.  Investor money was not used to acquire new properties, nor was it secured by collateral, and many victims did not receive interest payments. In fact, money that was paid to some victims as purported interest or a return on their investment came from investments made by other victims.

Read the rest of the press release from the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California.

Orange County Men Get Stiff Prison Sentences for Loan Modification Scam

September 2nd, 2016 at 10:47am

Two Orange County men from have been sentenced for their involvement in a mortgage loan scheme that was nationwide

Serj Geutssoyan, aka Anthony Kirk, 32, of Santa Ana, was sentenced to 52 months in prison. His co-defendant Daniel Shiau, aka Scott Decker, 30, of Irvine, received a 58 month sentence.

Along with five other persons who were charged, Geutssoyan and Schiau illegally charged upfront fees of $2,500 to $4,300 to provide loan modifications and debt relief services to homeowners. Over 1,000 homeowners were affected who were duped out of over $3 million.

A third defendant, Aria Maleki, was sentenced to 112 months back in January. The remaining four defendants also pleaded guilty but have not yet been sentenced.

Read the original article in NBC Connecticut.

Long Beach Pastor Admits to Mortgage Fraud

September 2nd, 2016 at 10:34am

Long Beach pastor Karl Robinson, 52, has pleaded guilty to one count of bankruptcy fraud.

According to the press release by the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California, Robinson would stall the evictions of homeowners who had been foreclosed on by filing fraudulent documents, including phony bankruptcy petitions. For this, he charged the homeowners almost $3 million.

“This defendant filed scores of fraudulent bankruptcy actions — sometimes on multiple occasions in relation to a single property,” U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker said in a statement. “He took advantage of distressed homeowners by stealing identities and lying to them about what he could do for their properties as long as they continued to pay his fees.”

You can read another article about Pastor Robinson’s mortgage fraud in the Long Beach Press Telegram.

© 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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