California Real Estate Fraud Report

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Archive for October, 2010

Four Men in San Bernardino County Charged with Real Estate Fraud

October 28th, 2010 at 2:49pm

The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office has filed charges against four men who victimized people by fraudulently filling out of quit claims, taking over properties and renting them. The men are Carlos Mendez Torres, 29; Manuel Patlan Torres, 60; Oscar Alvarez Macias, 35; and John Anthony Zepeda, 59.

Law enforcement believes there are victims in Bakersfield, Fresno and Nevada; some of the victims were members of two law enforcement.

Read the full article in the Press Enterprise.

Attorneys Getting Nailed for Foreclosure Fraud Scams

October 28th, 2010 at 2:34pm

Here are a few of the cases in the news where attorneys haven gotten themselves in very hot water:

Suzan Anderson, the supervising trial counsel for the California State Bar,  says “It’s been a very interesting time in this loan modification fraud, because there’s never been such complete agency cooperation before between the different agencies and the State Bar.”  Anderson is referring Gerald L. Wolfe, of the Irvine-based Law Office of Gerald Wolfe, who has been indicted for conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Wolfe is alleged to have taken $2 million in a classic scheme in which straw buyers who submitted fraudulent loan applications (loan fraud) purchased 30 homes in the Orange County and Riverside County areas. Wolfe is a licensed real estate broker and operated Real Equity Pursuits and Douglas Design. Gerald Wolfe surrendered his license to sell real estate in April 2009.

Last January, the Orange County district attorney’s office indicted Christopher Diener, a defrocked Irvine attorney (October 2009) for defrauding 400 homeowners because he took advance payments in return for promising to modify their mortgage loans. Diener’s firms are called Home Relief Services LLC, U.S. Loan Mod Processing, HRS Communications, The Diener Law Firm and the Diener Law Group. Diener and his partners was also sued by California Attorney General Jerry Brown last year. Brown wants $10 million in civil penalties, full restitution for the victims and a permanent injunction to shut down Diener’s businesses.

Diener, through his attorney, denies being guilty of anything.

Read the gallery of attorneys under the gun for foreclosure fraud, loan modification fraud, loan modification scams in Law.com

Vista Agent Pleads Guilty in Real Estate Fraud against Latinos

October 22nd, 2010 at 10:18am

Miguel Romero was once a prosperous man in the Vista area, working simultaneously as a real estate agent, insurance dealer, income tax preparer and credit repair specialist. But between 2004 and 2008, he apparently conspired with mortgage brokers to defraud both lenders and his Latino clients by convincing the latter to take out home loans, which contained overstated income statements. Almost all of the homes were eventually foreclosed.

Romero is now expected to receive a four year prison sentence this coming January after he pleaded guilty to multipe counts of fraud, theft and conspiracy according to court documents.

Not only did Miguel Romero and his co-conspirators collect $1.3 million in commissions, as part of their crimes, they took in $500,000 from some of their victims by promising to help them with their foreclosure problems.

Read the full article in the North County Times.

68 Years in Prison for Real Estate Fraud by Broker

October 22nd, 2010 at 10:06am

Kathy Chen, 49, a Westminster real estate broker, has been sentenced to 68 years and six months in prison after being convicted on 136 counts in a real estate fraud case that amounted to $17.5 million. Her boyfriend Richard Gonzalez and his brother Daniel Gonzalez were also charged but fled the United States.

Kath Chen owned Chen Financial, Western Escrow, National Tax Services and SBC Financial and was accused of using her businesses to find her victims. She then used their identities to obtain 47 loans on 35 properties located in Orange County, San Bernardino County and Kern County.

Read the full article in KABC 7 Eyewitness News and the Silicon Valley Mercury News.

Congressman Grayson tells FBI: Time to Cuff Bankers

October 22nd, 2010 at 9:54am

Congressman Alan Grayson (D-FL) has taken his gloves off in a scathing letter he wrote on October 14 to FBI Director Robert Mueller and US Attorney Robert O’Neill of the Central District of Florida, calling for prison sentences for some bankers for improper foreclosing of homes, dubbed Foreclosure Gate.

In his letter, Congressman Grayson accuses banks of “routinely evading laws meant to protect homeowners” and states bluntly that “fraud does not become legal just because a big bank does it.”

Read the letter by Congressman Alan Grayson on Market Ticker.

FBI Looking at Banks for Possible Criminal Violations

October 22nd, 2010 at 9:42am

The FBI is investigating whether banks and other lending institutions may have committed criminal violations in their processing of tens of thousands of foreclosures, in what has been termed Foreclosure Gate. Their determination hinges on whether the rubber-stamping (robo-signing) of the foreclosures was done with criminal intent.

In the meantime, both Bank of America and GMAC (Ally Financial, Inc.) have stated their intent to resume foreclosures in judicial foreclosure states. How successful they will be is an open question, as the attorneys general for all 50 states have initiated joint investigations into the procedures the major lenders have used to foreclose on homeowners. Further, plaintiffs’ attorneys are busy filing lawsuits against the lenders and at least one judge who has thrown out foreclosures, Justice Arthur Schack of State Supreme Court in Brooklyn, has stated for the record that lenders “better file all their paperwork and makes sure it’s done correctly, because they’re asking me to take someone’s house away.”

Read the full article in Yahoo News.

Angelo Mozilo, Sambol, Sieracki, Settle SEC Case

October 15th, 2010 at 1:58pm

Angelo Mozilo has agreed to pay $22.5 million in fines to the SEC in its civil lawsuit brought against him and will turn over $45 million in what would termed “ill-gotten gains” to his former shareholders who sued him for their losses.

His co-defendant, Countrywide’s former president, David Sambol, has also agreed to pay $520,000 in fines and $5 million in restitution, and Eric P. Sieracki, Countrywide’s former chief financial officer, got off with $130,000 in fines.

As is typical in these types of civil cases, Mozilo and Sambol did not admit or deny liability. They also are forbidden from ever serving again as officers or directors of public companies.

Read the full article in the Los Angeles Times.

Escrow Officer Pleads Guilty in Southern California Mortgage Fraud, Escrow Fraud Scheme

October 15th, 2010 at 9:37am

Donna Demello, a former escrow officer at Stewart Title in Milpitas, has pleaded guilty in federal court in to conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud.

Demello played an instrumental role in a mortgage fraud orchestrated by Delbert McConville in which straw buyers were paid $5,000 – $10,000 for the use of their names and credit histories so that McConville could purchase hundreds of condominiums in Southern California. In order to facilitate the fraud, fraudulent loan applications were submitted regarding the straw buyers; Demello was the gatekeeper who approved about 80 loans. Further, Demello admitted that the huge marketing fees paid to McConville on each transaction – about $150,000 – were concealed by her deliberately creating two HUD-1 final settlement statements. The phony version that did not show the fraudulent fees was sent to the lender, whereas the accurate one was sent to the sellers of the condominiums.

The corporate entities either owned or controlled by Delbert McConville were Diamond House Development, La Mirage HA, Emerald Park Housing, Hi Investments, Kearny Mesa Townhomes LLC, Stonemark Asset Portfolio, Sunset Drive Media, 3 Mac Asset Portfolio, 3 Mac Development Corporation, and Sapphire Park House.

Read the full article in the Mortgage Relief Project.

Idyllwild Woman Arrested for Elder Financial Abuse

October 15th, 2010 at 9:22am

Teri Danette Blackburn, 50, an Idyllwild resident who was caring for an elderly woman, has been arrested on suspicion of financial elder abuse and theft by false pretenses for withdrawing money from the account of the woman, even after she passed away.  Sheriff’s investigators also allege that Blackburn opened several life insurance policies using the victim’s own monies to pay the premiums. It is not known if she attempted to collect on those policies.

A search warrant was served on Teri Blackburn’s residence following the investigation, which was initiated in August when the executor of the woman’s estate contacted law enforcement after noticing activity on her account by the caregiver, Blackburn.

Authorities believe as much as $36,000 may have been taken from the victim’s accounts.

Read the full article in the Southwest Riverside News Network.

Angelo Mozilo Negotiating Settlement with SEC

October 15th, 2010 at 9:12am

The word is out from the courtroom of U.S. District Judge John F. Walter: the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is in settlement talks with Countrywide Financial Corp. co-founder Angelo Mozilo, just days before he was to go to trial in the government’s civil fraud and insider training lawsuit against him.

Angelo Mozilo and his co-defendants, former Countrywide President David Sambol and former Chief Financial Officer Eric P. Sieracki have been the target of multiple federal agency investigations of securities fraud.

It would be in Mozilo’s best interest to negotiate a settlement, as defendants in such cases usually do not admit to wrongdoing, something that would be a disadvantage to plaintiffs suing Mozilo and his co-defendants for their losses. A trial verdict against Mozilo, on the other hand, would not only be a boost to the plaintiffs’ cases but also provide evidentiary material to the criminal investigation against him that is in process.

Read the full story in the Los Angeles Times.

© 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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