California Real Estate Fraud Report

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So-Called Mastermind Testifies in Hendrix Montecastro Mortgage Fraud Trial

Prosecutors in the $142 million Ponzi scheme trial of Hendrix Montecastro and his mother, Helen Pedrino examined their first witness, James B. Duncan.

Duncan, the apparent ringleader of the mortgage fraud and securities fraud scheme that was operated in Riverside County, explained how the co-conspirators met each other and devised ways to profit out of the hot real estate market of the early- to mid-2000s. Wearing an orange, prison-issued jumpsuit, Duncan testified that he was introduced to Hendrix Montecastro by Anthony Contreras and that the three decided to form a three-way partnership to buy and profit from real estate.

According to Duncan, at first Montecastro, his former wife, Duncan and his wife and Contreras bought properties. They realized that with property prices skyrocketing during the early 2000s that they could easily refinance the homes after one year and use the excess to purchase more properties.

Once the market downturn began, they then made purchases by getting properties over-appraised (appraisal fraud) with the cooperation of the sellers and keeping the excess. They also brought in Helen Pedrino, said Duncan, to bring in investors in order to fund their Ponzi scheme because she had a wide circle of trusted friends.

Hendrix Montecastro and Helen Pedrino are facing 317 charges and prosecutors claim they defrauded 28 persons or couples out of almost $30 million.

The case is being heard in front of Riverside County Superior Judge Jeffrey Prevost and is being prosecuted by San Bernardino County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Vicki Hightower.

Read the original article in the Press Enterprise.

© Copyright 2007-2018 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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