California Real Estate Fraud Report

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Archive for the 'Notary Fraud' Category

Clovis Man Charged with Operating a Ponzi Scheme

July 13th, 2017 at 7:41am

Clovis resident Seth Adam Depiano, 36, has been arrested Thursday and has been charged with mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering.

In court document, Deplane is accused of operating a $20 million Ponzi scheme by luring unsuspecting real estate investors into his businesses, including The Rental Group, U.S. Funding and Home Services LLC and Draymond Homes.

He promised the investors that their funds would be used to purchase homes that would either be renovated and resold or turned into rental properties.

In addition, Depiano is accused selling the North Roosevelt apartment building in Fresno that he didn’t owned to his investors. Another complex in Fresno, the “Winery Complex,” was sold as an apartment building but is actually condominium units that are individually owned.

The FBI investigation began in September 2015 after a notary filed a report with the Los Gatos Police Department, claiming her signature had been forged (notary fraud) on a grant deed document for the North Roosevelt complex.

Seth Depiano’s case is being heard before the U.S. District Court in Las Vegas, the city in which he was arrested.

Read the original article in the Fresno Business Journal.

Long Beach Man Sentenced for “Stay In Your Home Today” Mortgage Fraud

December 6th, 2016 at 8:37am

Long Beach resident Karl Robinson, 52, was sentenced to four years in federal prison after pleading guilty in August to one count of bankruptcy fraud.

Prosecutors had accused Robinson of operating a five-year scheme under his own name and companies he created such as “Stay In Your Home Today,” “21st Century Development” and “Genesis Ventures Corporation.” He purportedly brought in close to $3 million from the distressed homeowners who fell for his scam, which included false promises by Robinson that he could save their homes.

As part of the scheme, Robinson filed falsified grant deeds with county recorders and other fake documents in state court eviction proceedings to make it appear that fictional debtors held interests in the distressed properties. In a plea agreement, Robinson admitted that he misused notary stamps of other individuals in order to fake signatures on legal documents (notary fraud) and that he charged distressed homeowners additional fees if they wanted to unwind fake filings.

“This scheme was never about providing assistance to distressed homeowners,” said U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker said in a statement. “It was about lying to distressed homeowners and collecting fees based on false promises. This defendant abused the bankruptcy system and stole identities to perpetrate his fraudulent scheme.”

The case against Robinson was prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Kerry L. Quinn of the Major Frauds Section.

Roseville woman convicted in mortgage fraud case

March 5th, 2015 at 8:24am

Roseville resident Rachel Siders, 39, was found guilty of bank fraud, making a false loan application and committing aggravated identity theft, according to a press release by the  U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California.

Siders and her co-defendant Theo Adams used the identity of a relative of Adams to take out a HELOC (home equity line of credit) on the relative’s property in 2008. Siders and Adams, who pleaded guilty in this case, submitted fraudulent tax returns and income statements to Washington Mutual Bank, which, as a result, extended a $250,000 loan. Siders, as a notary public, also falsely notarized the loan documents (notary fraud). The loan later defaulted.

U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez will be sentencing both Rachel Siders and Theo Adams later this year.

Read the original article in the Sacramento Bee.

Ranch Cucamonga Pair Charged for Selling Home They Didn’t Own

January 8th, 2015 at 8:48am

According to the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office, Emma Adel, 45, and Mazen Fazah, 39,  are facing 22 felong charges for selling a home they fraudulently acquired to an unsuspecting buyer.

The defendants, who own Upland-based business, Smart Edge Auto, forged both the name of the owner (title fraud) and a notary public (notary fraud) on a vacant house, transferred the property into a trust, then re-sold the home to the victims, according to Senior Investigator John Vega.


Oakland and Macomb Counties Launch Super Index to Detect Real Estate Fraud

May 16th, 2014 at 7:54am

The pro-active counties of Oakland and Macomb are the first and only counties in the nation to add a Super Index to their property record searches, making it easier to both prevent and detect real estate fraud.

The Super Index is powered by Google and Xerox and contains up to 12 million pages of optically-scanned property records going back as far as 1964. It allows the user to search records using a homeowner’s name, an address or by name of the notary. The latter is important because some fraudulent deeds have been filed with the cooperation of either a dishonest notary (notary fraud) or one who was duped by the person filing the deed (title fraud).

Some homes are stolen through County Clerks’ offices by people who pay a portion of back taxes on a property with delinquent taxes. The person then places a lien on the property, files a phony deed and then either rents it out or sells it, all without the knowledge of the lawful owner.

Read the original article in the Daily Tribune.

Three Officers from California City Break Up Real Estate Fraud Ring

October 4th, 2013 at 10:57am

Three police officers with more tenacity and hard work than money pulled off busting a real estate fraud ring that involved identity theft and losses of over $1 million.

The California City Police Department has a staff of less than 20. But when Reserve Officers Michael Katz and Chris Christopher (now deceased), and Sgt. Jeff Takeda heard about a case in November 2008 in which an identity theft in Anaheim was used to purchase property in California City, they went to work.

According to Officer Katz, the defendants, who built six houses, did so “in a plummeting market, a market with no buyers. The (suspects) used a combination of what’s called straw buyers and identity theft victims to sell the houses to.” The builders found a cooperating appraiser, who “super-inflated” the valuation for the houses, giving the defendants excess proceeds to skim. The true values were less than half of the appraised amount, which the banks found out during their investigations.

The defendants are appraiser Nathaniel Acree, 65, of Long Beach; broker Jay Langer, 51, of San Juan Capistrano; Khalid Malik Abdul Ali, 60, of California City; Angie Cachu, 44, of Orange; and notary Elizabeth Torres, 28, of Santa Ana. All of them are in custody except Torres and Angie Cachu, whose whereabouts are unknown.

Referring to the three officers, Kern County Deputy District Attorney Gordon Isen noted, “They did an excellent job investigating the case and drafting the report.” Isen is prosecuting the case.

Read the original article in the Bakersfield Californian.

Three Arrested for Luring Struggling Homeowners by Promising to “Kill” Their Mortgages

January 31st, 2013 at 11:25am

Two men and a woman in the Santa Rosa area are facing serious charges by the Office of the California Attorney General for allegedly defrauding struggling homeowners (foreclosure fraud).

Ronald Cupp, 58, of Santa Rosa; Randall Heyden, 69, of San Rafael; and Angelle Wertz, 38, of Santa Rosa were arrested  and charged with 57 counts that theft, forgery, notary fraud and recording of false documents through their “” website. Randall Heyden is a licensed real estate broker in Rohnert Park.

The three entrepreneus are alleged to have collected thousands of dollars in upfront fees from $1,000 to $10,000. Cupps’ mortgage company, North Bay Trust Services, was used to fabricate documents that delayed the homeowners’ foreclosure, but according to spokesman Nick Pacillo of the California AG’s Office, did not “kill” the mortgage.

The alleged crimes first were reported to prosecutors in Marin and Sonoma counties but it is still unknown how many homeowners may have been victimized.

”” has been seized by the California Attorney General’s Office in order to both announce the State’s action and to provide a portal through which victims can file complaints. So has North Bay Trust Services.

Read the original article in the Mercury News. There is an updated article in the Press Democrat.

Defendant Angie Cachu in California City Real Estate Fraud Sentenced

January 18th, 2013 at 11:21am

A complex real estate fraud scheme in California City that was investigated starting in November 2008 ended when the last defendant was sentenced to jail.

Angie Cachu, 45, received a one year sentence from Kern County Superior Court Judge Colette M. Humphrey along with five years’ felony probation. The prosecutor, Gordon Isen, was satisfied with the sentence and said Cachu deserved it because she had been uncooperative and lied aobut her active role in the conspiracy.

The case began when California City police received a report of an identity theft. The case expanded greatly and led investigators to a ring of conspirators who used straw buyers to purchase $2.7 million of newly-built homes using fraudulent loan applications (loan fraud, mortgage fraud, notary fraud) and inflated appraisals (appraisal fraud) in order to enrich themselves.

The other defendants pleaded no contest to various crimes and were sentenced as follows:

Appraiser Nathaniel Acree of Long Beach: two years in prison

Broker Jay Langner, of San Juan Capistrano: four years in prison. Jay Langner’s license with the California Department of Real Estate (DRE) is still in good standing as of this writing.

Khalid Malik Abdul Ali, of California City: five years in prison

Notary Elizabeth Torres, of Santa Ana: 10 days in jail.

Read the original article in the Bakersfield Californian.

California City PD Detectives Work Hard, Get 2 Convictions for Mortgage Fraud

October 30th, 2012 at 3:33pm

In a conclusion to a previous posting on the California Real Estate Fraud Report, two defendants in a $2.7 million mortgage fraud scam centered in Kern County have pleaded guilty, joining three co-conspirators who were previously convicted. This case had it all: loan fraud/mortgage fraud, notary fraud, real estate fraud, identity theft.

The press release from the California City Police Department follows:

Two defendants charged in connection with an elaborate mortgage fraud scheme to obtain over $2.7 million dollars on sham sales of newly constructed California City homes pled guilty to mortgage fraud charges this week in Kern County Superior Court.

Real estate broker Jay Edward Langner, 52 of San Juan Capistrano had been charged with nine felony counts of conspiracy, grand theft and identity theft. Langner pled guilty to conspiracy to commit grand theft on Thursday. The remaining charges were dismissed in exchange for his plea. Court documents allege Langner, doing business as Pacific Hills Realty, participated in a conspiracy to arrange sham sales of newly constructed homes and submit loan applications containing forged documents and fraudulent misrepresentations. Langner is expected to be sentenced to four years of incarceration and forfeiture of his real estate license at a sentencing hearing scheduled for November 27, 2012. [note: as of Oct. 30, 2012 Langner’s DRE license was still in good standing.]

Angie Cachu, 45 of Orange, had been charged with nine felony counts of conspiracy, grand theft and identity theft. Cachu pled no contest today to conspiracy to commit identity theft. The remaining charges were dismissed in exchange for her plea. Court documents allege Cachu was paid by co-conspirators to recruit straw borrowers and offer them money for the use of their identities. Cachu is expected to be sentenced to 12 months of incarceration followed by five years of felony probation at a sentencing hearing on December 6, 2012.

The investigation began in late 2008 when California City Detectives received an identity theft report from an Orange County man who claimed his identity had been used for a mortgage loan on a California City property. The investigation that ensued identified dozens of properties also linked to the scheme. California City PD Detectives traveled extensively throughout Southern California and Nevada over the course of the 2½ year investigation, served search warrants at 43 locations, and examined thousands of documents.

The guilty pleas follow the convictions of three other co-conspirators also charged in the case.

Khalid Malik Abdul Ali, 61, of California City had been charged with nine felony counts of conspiracy, grand theft and identity theft. Court documents allege Ali received kickback payments at loan closing for conspiring to arrange sham sales of newly constructed homes. Ali pled no contest to conspiracy in February of this year and was sentenced to five years of incarceration.

Appraiser Nathaniel Acree, 66 of Long Beach had been charged with four felony counts of conspiracy and grand theft. Court documents alleged Acree conspired to provide falsely inflated appraisals in support fraudulent mortgage applications. Acree pled no contest to grand theft in December 2011 and was sentenced to two years of incarceration and loss of his appraiser’s license.

Notary Elizabeth Torres, 29 of Santa Ana had been charged with two felony counts of fraudulent notarial acts. Court documents allege Torres knowingly notarized false or forged deeds of trust. Torres pled no contest to accessory to a felony in March of this year and was sentenced to 10 days incarceration, three years’ probation and loss of her notary commission.

The case was investigated by California City Police Department Detectives with the assistance of the Orange County District Attorney’s office Bureau of Investigation and US Postal Inspection Service. The case was prosecuted by the Kern County District Attorney’s office.

The California City Police Department is grateful to retired Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Detective Chris L. Christopher for his invaluable assistance during this investigation. Chris was a nationally recognized expert in real estate fraud investigation and had come out of retirement to assist California City Police Department with the investigation and pass down his legendary detective skills to a new generation of investigators. Chris died in a traffic accident last year. This was his last investigation.

Two Southland Men Will Get Prison for Defrauding Banks, Investors

August 30th, 2012 at 6:49pm

Henrik Sardariani, 44, a Glendale resident accused of scamming banks and individuals out of millions in a loan fraud scheme, was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison. His co-conspirator and brother Hamlet Sardariani, 42, of Sylmar, will be sentenced next month for the same crimes.

Both brothers pleaded guilty to felony counts of wire fraud, conspiracy and money laundering in the court of U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips, who ordered Henrik Sardariani to pay $5.4 million in restitution to his victims, along with a $100,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ranee Katzenstein termed the con “sophisticated and complex” and involved Henrik Sardariani creating phony government documents and fraudulent real estate documents that he authenticated by cutting and pasting notarizations (notary fraud). Sardariani secured his loans – which he admitted he had no intention of repaying – using his homes on Paseo Redondo in Burbank and on Maginn Drive in Glendale as collateral.

Wanda Tenney, an escrow officer, helped Sardariani avoid paying one of his loans back by helping him wire almost $2 million to a Hong Kong account (escrow fraud). Tenney pleaded guilty to conspiring to launder money and will be sentenced in October.

You can find an earlier article about the prosecution of Henrik Sardariani and Hamlet Sardariani by using the search window on the left-side or clicking on this link of the California Real Estate Fraud Report.

Read the original article for this post on the Glendale News Press.

© 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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