California Real Estate Fraud Report

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Archive for the 'Real Estate Fraud' Category

San Mateo County Gets Aggressive in Chasing Real Estate Fraud, Mortgage Fraud

May 5th, 2017 at 9:24am

According to the San Mateo Daily Journal, the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office is going to be aggressively investigating people attempting to take out fraudulent liens on a property (title fraud), trying to con the elderly out of their homes (elder financial abuse, elder financial fraud) or anyone falsifying real estate documents.

With a new $3 document recording fee and property values rising, the County Board of Supervisors set up a Real Estate Fraud Prosecution Trust Fund that will be used to investigate criminals.

District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe and his office have received almost 300 complaints of real estate fraud since 2014.

Upland Woman Convicted in Real Estate Fraud Case

May 5th, 2017 at 8:53am

Upland resident Barbara Rae Bratton, 58 was convicted of 6 counts of real estate fraud on April 14.

Bratton, who lost her home to foreclosure, was investigated by the Ontario Police Department on suspicion of filing two false grant deeds with the San Bernardino County Recorder’s Office on a house in the 900 block of Locust Street in Ontario.

After the foreclosure, the home was legally purchased to new buyers, according to District Attorney Sr. Investigation John Vega.
Read the original article in the Highland Community News.

Monterey County District Attorney’s Office Seeking Victims in Real Estate Fraud Case

April 21st, 2017 at 8:40am

The Monterey County District Attorney’s Office has indicted two men it is accusing of charging people upfront fees for non-existent loans in Salinas.

The allegations are that Jose Tomas-Silva and Mark Gallegos marketed real estate brokerage services that required the prospective clients to pay advance fees for residential properties that were not for sale

Read the original article in The Californian.

Real Estate Brokerage, Agents Successfully Defend Charges of Fraud, Negligence

March 30th, 2017 at 3:52pm

An unnamed real estate brokerage and its agent received a unanimous verdict in their favor after an 11-day jury trial in San Mateo Superior Court (CIV528024).

The plaintiff was a real estate investor who had purchased a 4-plex in Menlo Park in 2013 that required substantial remodeling. The seller’s real estate agent had recommended a contractor who was later found to be unlicensed. The buyer/investor then sued the agent and brokerage, accusing them of intentional misrepresentation, negligence, and unjust enrichment.

“A lot was at risk for our clients, and we are absolutely thrilled that we were able to defend them outright from some very serious claims,” said prevailing attorney Charlie Bronitsky of the Law Offices of Peter N. Brewer. “It came down to the fact that, every day, real estate agents refer vendors to clients and prospective clients; establishing a duty for the realtors regarding the validity of those vendor recommendations would create an undue burden.”

Read the original article in Digital Journal.

 

An Important Supplemental Disciplinary Advisory from the California Bureau of Real Estate

March 24th, 2017 at 4:54am

The following is from an email alert from the California Bureau of Real Estate:

    Licensee Alert                 Issued March 2017

Supplemental Disciplinary Advisory to Real Estate Salespersons Who Mislead Consumers into Falsely Believing that They are Brokers — and a Concurrent Caution to the “[Ir]responsible” Brokers Who Permit or Support Such Practices

                       By Wayne S. Bell, California Real Estate Commissioner and

Mark Tutera, Special Investigator

 

In September 2015, the California Bureau of Real Estate (CalBRE) issued an advisory which was captioned “Disciplinary Warning to Real Estate Salespersons Who Act, Conduct Themselves, and/or Advertise as ‘Independent’ Real Estate Professionals — and a Simultaneous Caution to Brokers Who Allow or Support Such Practices”.

(http://www.calbre.ca.gov/files/pdf/adv/Independent%20Real%20Estate%20Professionals.pdf)

Licensees of CalBRE are well advised to review that prior advisory since we continue to see some of the same bad practices identified in that writing.

This discipline “advisory” is being issued as a supplement to that prior warning since CalBRE has taken notice of the use by some real estate salespersons of names and designations (and attendant Internet and marketing materials) that suggest to the public – and mislead consumers into falsely believing – that such salespersons are real estate brokers.

A scenario that we have repeatedly seen is the use by a salesperson (who for this illustration we will identify as John Doe) of a fictitious business name that would lead members of the public to incorrectly believe that the business is operated and managed by a real estate broker. In this example, salesperson Doe conducts business using the name Doe Real Estate.  Doe advertises using that business name, and the advertisements are connected to, or accompanied by, a webpage and other materials that extol the virtues of Doe Real Estate.  The public would not think that Doe is a salesperson who must be supervised by another, and would most certainly conclude that Doe Real Estate is a real estate broker or brokerage.  And the above practices are unlawful.

In addition to the above, many salespersons continue to brand and identify themselves as “independent” real estate practitioners, and they practice and advertise as such.  Unless those salespersons are operating as “teams”, in full compliance with the California laws and rules pertaining to teams (e.g., the disclosure of I.D numbers and the name of responsible broker, and the surname of at least one of the licensee members of the team along with the use of the terms “team”, “group” or associates” with regard to the team), that is unlawful as well.

Further, and depending on the specific language employed with respect to the name(s) and designation(s) used by the real estate salespersons, there might be a violation of the law relative to the use of fictitious names.  Please see the prior guidance given by CalBRE on the proper use and licensing of fictitious names.

As was also stated in the prior warning, under California law, with its two-tiered licensing system, real estate salespersons cannot provide – or advertise that they can provide – real estate services independently of their responsible brokers.

Likewise, salespersons must be associated or affiliated with, and be reasonably supervised by (which supervision includes broker review of the advertising used by the broker’s salesperson or salespersons pursuant to Commissioner’s Regulation 2725(e)) a responsible broker in order to engage in real estate licensed activities in California.  The law provides no exceptions.

CalBRE will take appropriate disciplinary action (including the imposition of significant fines, and  – where appropriate – the revocation of licensure) against real estate salespersons who engage in the unlawful activities discussed above, and against real estate brokers who permit their salespersons to engage in such activities.

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Former Roseville Real Estate Agent Sentenced to Prison for Forging Documents

March 2nd, 2017 at 10:54am

Alla Samchuk, 45, who was previously a licensed real estate agent, has been sentenced to nine years and six months in federal prison for mortgage fraud, identity theft and obstruction of justice. She was convicted last August.

According to prosecutors, from 2006 through 2008, Samchuk concocted a mortgage fraud involving two homes in Roseville and one in El Dorado Hills. Because she was unable to qualify for the loans, so she found straw buyers to apply for the loans in their own names. The applications contained false statements regarding income, employment and assets, including falsely representing that the straw buyers would occupy the homes.

Judge Garland Burrell Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California in Sacramento was the trial judge. He imposed the longer sentence because Samchuk had threatened a witness not to report her crimes.

You can read more about the history of the case by going to the U.S. Government Publishing Office.

Read the original article in the Sacramento Business Journal.

Lake Forest Woman Pleads Guilty to Ponzi Scheme in Real Estate Fraud Case

January 27th, 2017 at 10:02am

Fifty-five-year-old Angel Bronsgeest woman has pleaded guilty to federal charges of operating a real estate scam that resulted in Southern California investors losing $3.5 million, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.

Bronsgeest pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud, said the U.S. Attorney’s Office, admitting that she and Shawn Patrick Watkins solicited their victims at Orange County hotel seminars to invest in their company, called The Equity Growth Group, or TEEG. Their pitch was that TEEG managed hundreds of property and the rents they collected were used to purchase new properties. Investors could earn interest on their money, which was secured by the deeds of trust on the properties. But the U.S. Attorney’s Office said that TEEG was not acquiring new properties, had a negative cash flow and the investors who did receive “interest” payments received that money from funds Bronsgeest and Watkins solicited by new victims (Ponzi scheme).

Read the original article in the OC Register.

Read the press release by clicking on this link for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.

 

Cerritos Realtor® Arrested in Escrow Fraud Scheme in Alleged Short Sale Fraud Scheme

January 6th, 2017 at 10:15am

A Cerritos real estate broker was arrested for taking part in a two-year escrow fee scam that stole over $500,000 from over 30 victims.

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Mario Gonzalez, a licensed broker at MCR Escrow, located at 1800 Studebaker Road #700.

Gonzalez, 45, allegedly participated in a scam in which homes were fraudulently listed as short sales, investigators in the Sheriff’s fraud bureau said. Buyers were required to pay escrow fees to “secure” a property after they submitted their bids. None of the sales closed, yet the buyers’ fees were not returned to them.

Mario Gonzalez has also been reported to RipoffReport.com, presumably by some of his unhappy customers.

Investigators are looking for other victims and can contact Detective Keith Clark at 562-946-7217.

In the meantime, Gonzalez is being held in lieu of a $70,000 bail at the Norwalk Sheriff Station.

Read the original article in Los Cerritos News.

Yorba Linda Man Sentenced to 4 Years in Real Estate Fraud Scheme

January 6th, 2017 at 10:00am

Andres Oman Pacheco, 40, has been sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to the following crimes in a real estate fraud case:

Two counts of grand theft, both felonies
Admitting a sentencing enhancement allegation for aggravated white collar crime exceeding $500,000

The victims put money on deposit to buy property and when the deals fell through Pacheco would not refund the money, McFetridge said.

Pacheco was the owner of Santa Ana-based Franklin Equity Corporation/Signature Escrow, according to Senior Deputy District Attorney George McFetridge. His victims had entrusted him with $540,000 to invest in properties. When the sales failed to close, Pacheco refused to return their money.

Read the original article in the OC Register.

 

Santa Maria Men Charged in Real Estate Fraud of Short Sale Properties

December 16th, 2016 at 12:09pm

Two men have been charged by the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office  with allegedly committing real estate fraud that cost Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac at least $500,000.

Angelo Gabriel Naemi, 36, was charged with five counts of grand theft by false pretenses, and one count of conspiracy to commit grand theft. Steven Paul Gonzales, 61, was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit grand theft.
“The complaint alleges that Naemi, a real estate salesperson, and Gonzales, a real estate broker, conspired to falsify documents in association with numerous short sale transactions,” the District Attorney’s Office said.  The complaint against both men also includes special allegations for aggravated white collar crime and excessive losses.

Gonzales became sole owner of CornerStone Real Estate in Santa Maria in 2012 while Naemi is listed as a sales associate with the firm which has an office at 411 E. Betteravia Road, Suite 101.

Read the original article on Noozhawk.

© 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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