California Real Estate Fraud Report

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Archive for the 'Real Estate Fraud' Category

Two Members Of A Nevada City-Based Conspiracy Convicted In Multi-Million Dollar Bank And Title Fraud Scheme

December 8th, 2017 at 9:19am

The following is a press release by the FBI:

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Earlier today, a federal jury found two men guilty in a bank fraud scheme that sought to fraudulently eliminate home mortgages and then profit on the subsequent home sales, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

George B. Larsen, 56, formerly of San Rafael, was found guilty of conspiracy and four counts of bank fraud. Larry Todt, 65, formerly of Malibu, was found guilty of conspiracy and one count of bank fraud.

According to court documents, between April 22, 2010, and November 18, 2011, Larsen and Todt were members of a conspiracy that ran a “mortgage elimination program” purporting to help distressed homeowners avoid foreclosure.  The conspirators fraudulently altered the chain of title on residential properties, sold the properties, and received the sales proceeds.

As a requirement for participation in the “mortgage elimination program,” the conspirators enrolled homeowners as members in a Nevada City-based church named Shon-te-East-a, Walks With Spirit, or its successor entity Pillow Foundation. The conspirators indicated to the homeowners these entities would offer protection against the banks.

Larsen and Todt each ran branches of the mortgage elimination program, recruiting homeowners into the scheme, marshalling the necessary recorded documents, and guiding the homes through sale. Once the homeowner enrolled with Shon-te-East-a or Pillow Foundation, Larsen and Todt would have a sham deed of trust created and recorded, giving the impression that the homeowner had refinanced the mortgage loan with a new lender. In reality, the new lender was a fake entity controlled by the conspirators, and the homeowner owed no money to the purported new lender.

The next step in the process was also a recorded document. The conspirators caused a fake deed of reconveyance to be recorded, giving the appearance that the true mortgage loan had been discharged and that the true lienholder no longer had a security interest in the home.

With title appearing to be clear, the conspirators caused the sale of the home, with the proceeds split between the co-conspirators and the homeowners.

In total, 37 properties were sold through the Shon-te-East-a conspiracy. The conspirators recorded fraudulent documents on an additional approximately 100 homes, but were unable to sell these before the scheme unraveled.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Audrey B. Hemesath and Todd A. Pickles are prosecuting the case.

Three other co-defendants have previously entered guilty pleas. On April 21, 2017, Remus A. Kirkpatrick, formerly of Oceanside, pleaded guilty to one count of falsely making writings of lending associations. On May 26, 2017, Michael Romano, of Benicia, pleaded guilty to conspiracy, and on July 14, 2017, Laura Pezzi, of Roseville, pleaded guilty to falsely making writings of lending associations. They are scheduled to be sentenced on February 23, 2018.     Co-defendants John Michael DiChiara, of Penn Valley, and James Castle, of Santa Rosa, are still awaiting trial. The charges against DiChiara and Castle are only allegations:  both defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

In related cases, on September 4, 2015, Tisha Trites and Todd Smith, both of San Diego, pleaded guilty to related charges before U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell, Jr. They are scheduled to be sentenced on February 9, 2018.

Larsen and Todt are scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell, Jr. on March 16, 2018, at which time they each face a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum penalty for bank fraud is 30 years and a $1 million fine. The actual sentences, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

New Jersey Attorney and Real Estate Agent Charged with Running Short Sale Fraud Ring

December 7th, 2017 at 9:38am

New Jersey attorney Christopher Goodson, 44, and Anthony Garvin, 47, have been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud with respect to multiple short sale frauds in a criminal complaint that was filed in U.S. District Court in Newark.

According to an article in Credit Union Times, the pair were thought to have caused over $30 million in losses to the victim financial institutions.

According to the complaint, Goodson, Garvin and others targeted multiple New Jersey properties that were in default. After acquiring the listings, the conspirators convinced the lenders to accept a short sale to a co-conspirator or entity controlled by the group. They did not disclose to the lenders that they were in business with each other or the entities. Once the sales were complete, they allegedly flipped the properties to a second buyer using phony loan applications, bank statements and employment records generated by members of the group.

 

Sister Sues Brother, Accuses Him of Fraud

November 30th, 2017 at 9:40am

Santa Cruz County resident Peggy Amaya filed a complaint Oct. 25 in Fresno County Superior Court against Robert M. Blackhurst and Does 1-10, alleging fraud and unjust enrichment.

Amaya purchased the property located at 37526 Ripple Lane in Squaw Valley. She made the purchase through her brother, Robert Blackhurst, because she was going through a divorce with a convicted felon. She alleges Blackhurst refused to transfer title back to her and that he took advantage of her trust in him as a family member.

Read the original article in the Northern California Record.

Former Los Angeles Lakers Player Pleads Guilty in Short Sale Fraud

November 30th, 2017 at 9:03am

Sam Jacobson, a basketball player with three NBA teams, pleaded guilty to residential mortgage fraud in the short sale of his Apple Valley (Minnesota) home.

In an August 2016 complaint  filed by Dakota County, prosecutors accused Jacobson of persuading his lender, JPMorgan Chase, to agree to a short sale of his property in 2011. As part of the transaction, he and his girlfriend, Trace Quam, whom he later married, signed an affidavit that the same was arm’s length. This was not true, as Traci Quam was the purchaser.

After the short sale was approved, Traci Quam sold the house later in the year at a profit of $226,793.06, according to the criminal complaint. She used the proceeds to proceeds to purchase another house, also in Apple Valley.

The short sale fraud was uncovered when Jennifer Jacobson, Sam Jacobson’s ex-wife, reported it to Apple Valley police in 2013.

As part of his plea agreement, Jacobson has agreed to pay restitution to the bank. He and Trace are scheduled to be sentenced in January 2018.

Read the original article in the Minnesota Star Tribune.

Newport Beach Man Gets 34 Years in Real Estate Fraud

November 16th, 2017 at 8:55am

Thomas Tarbutton was extradited to the U.S. in 2013 following his detention in Panama as he attempted to fly from Brazil, where he was living, to Costa Rica.

Fifty-eight-year-old Thomas Tarbutton has been sentenced to over 34 years in prison after being convicted last year for stealing approximately $3 million.

Tarbutton, of Newport Beach, was convicted in 2016 of 40 felony counts, including grand theft and securities fraud, involving 11 victims. He had been extradicted to the United States in 2013 after being detained in Panama.

Read the original article in U.S. News & World Report.

Stockton Real Estate Agent Sentenced to Prison in Mortgage Fraud Case

November 16th, 2017 at 8:33am

Arthur Change Menefee, 46, a real estate agent, has been sentenced to three years in prison for his role in a mortgage fraud scheme.

According to U.S. Attorney Phillip Talbert, Menefee assisted unqualified buyers to prepare fraudulent loan applications. Aleksandr Kovalev, who previously pleaded guilty in this scheme, sold the buyers properties and paid kickbacks to them that were not disclosed lenders.

Also pleading guilty earlier were Jannice Riddick, Florence Francisco, Adil Qayyum, Elsie Pamela Fuller, Valeriy Vasilevitsky, Ruth Willis and Leona Yeargin.

Read the original article in the Central Valley Business Times.

Two Long Beach Men Charged in Real Estate Fraud of Elderly, Deceased Persons

November 15th, 2017 at 8:42am

The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD) is seeking other possible victims in an identity theft and real estate fraud scheme after arresting real estate broker Andrew Hutchings, 59, and Ronald Hoch, 60.

The men are charged by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office with identity theft, forgery, procuring and offering a false instrument, grand theft and money laundering involving homes located in the cities of Los Angeles, Lakewood, Hemet and Westlake Village.

LASD-Nixle states “The defendants allegedly impersonated the victims and then sold, or attempted to sell the victims’ homes, or obtained loans using the victims’ homes as collateral,” the release stated. “Proceeds from the fraud were laundered by purchasing gold coins from out of state companies, and shipping the coins to mail boxes in California which were obtained under false names.”

Read the original article in the Long Beach Post.

Visalia Man Sentenced for Craigslist Rental Fraud

November 15th, 2017 at 7:58am

Visalia resident Nicholas Vallez, 29, has been sentenced to one year in  jail plus restitution for real estate fraud by Judge Nathan Leedy.

Vallez pleaded no contest in May to one felony count of grand theft, one felony count of forgery, and one misdemeanor count of petty theft. He had listed a property he did not own in Visalia on Craigslist for rent in August 2016, and collected money from prospective renters.

Read the original article in the Visalia Times-Delta.

The case was prosecuted by the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office.

Two Men Sentenced to Lengthy Prison Terms for San Diego “Mansion Fraud” Case

October 20th, 2017 at 9:15am

San Diego businessman and a lawyer from Arizona received length sentences for engineering a multi-million real estate loan fraud in San Diego.

U.S. District Court Judge William Q. Hayes sentenced Cortland Gettel, 43 of Coronado to 135 months in prison and Jeffrey Greenberg, 67, of Tucson, Arizona to 81 months.

Gettel owned Conix, real estate investment firm that was also known as Variant Commercial Real Estate. Greenberg was the company’s attorney. Prosecutors had accused the pair of misleading lenders into approving loans for them to purchase four multi-million dollar mansions in La Jolla and Del Mar under the pretext the properties were high-end investment and luxury rentals. What really happened was that Gettel, his business partner Peter Cash Doye and their families lived in the homes.

Read the original article in the San Diego Union Tribune.

 

Atwater Couple Indicted in Federal Mortgage Fraud Probe

October 20th, 2017 at 8:58am

John Ballard, 55, and Judy Calderon Ballard, 54, are two of the four people named in a federal indictment by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California.  The Ballards are charged with conspiracy, wire fraud and bank fraud with respect to an alleged short-sale scheme, according to U.S. Attorney Phillip Talbert.

The other two defendants are Sherry Herbert, 54, and Andrea Todd, 53.

John and Judy Ballard were licensed real estate salespersons according to prosecutors. When they defaulted on their home in Atwater, they asked their lender to permit them to sell their home to Herbert and Todd but had no intention of actually transferring the property to them.

Read the original article in the Modesto Bee.

© 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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