California Real Estate Fraud Report

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Archive for March, 2012

Chico Mortgage Broker Convicted in Home Purchase Kickback Scheme

March 29th, 2012 at 9:32pm

The operator of Empire Mortgage in Chico, has been found guilty of two counts of mail fraud as a result of a mortgage fraud conspiracy in which she participated.

Kesha Danine Fortune Haynie, 41, was the loan originator and generated phony loan applications in an illegal kickback scheme connected to the purchase of new homes.

Haynie received $41,000 from the homebuilder (unnamed in this article) after the close of escrow for the home sales. The buyers were paid $29,000 and then Haynie would share in the remaining monies with her co-conspirators. Neither the lender, escrow or title companies were aware of the fraud.

Evidence showed that she promised homebuyers kickbacks from a Chico homebuilder in exchange for purchasing homes. The day after the close of escrow, the homebuilder would write checks averaging $41,000 to the conspirators.

Kesha Haynie’s real estate license is still in good standing with the California Department of Real Estate (DRE). Let’s see how long it takes for the DRE to act now that she has been convicted.


Kesha’s sister Niche Savon Fortune, 39, of Chico, was sentenced to 57 months for brokering kickbacks to buyers in the scheme and falsifying loan documents (loan fraud).

Read the original article in the Central Valley Business Times.

Richard Lamphere Real Estate Fraud Case to be Heard

March 29th, 2012 at 9:21pm

In an update to a previous article in the California Real Estate Fraud Report, the Solano County Superior Court judge hearing the criminal case against Richard D. Lamphere, 48, for various charges related to real estate fraud, has ordered the attorneys for both sides back to her court next month to present their arguments.

Richard Lamphere has been charged with grand theft, selling unregistered securities and making false statements and/or omissions in relation to monies he received from Ronald Nicoli. Nicoli, who won almost $2 million in a civil lawsuit against Lamphere, contended that Lamphere diverted Nicoli’s original investment into Lamphere’s own projects (real estate investment fraud).

 Read the original article in the Vacaville Reporter.

Two San Jose Men Plead Guilty to Loan Modification Fraud

March 29th, 2012 at 9:11pm

In a plea deal with the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, two San Jose men have admitted defrauding 400 homeowners by operating a loan modification scam business.

M&R Contemporary Solutions was located in Campbell and co-owned by Rene Alvarez, 41, and Mariano Ortega, 37, co-owners of  in Campbell.

Preying primarily on Latino homeowners having trouble paying their mortgages, Alvarez and Ortega charged advance fees of $3,000 to $10,000 and billed their service as a “principal reduction” program. Their scheme was to have a third party purchase the borrowers’ homes at steep discounts, then re-sell it back to the borrower at a discount.

Cydney Sanchez, the owner of West Coast Mortgage and Horizon Property Holdings of Beverly Hills, was supposed to supply the loan money. She is still awaiting trial but apparently has more troubles, as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has filed a civil complaint against her and Horizon Property Holdings.

Read the original article in the Silicon Valley Mercury News.

San Diego Gets Grant to Hire Loan Modification Fraud Investigator

March 29th, 2012 at 9:00pm

The city of San Diego has received a grant for $56,846 to hire a fraud investigator. The new investigator will be tasked with finding and referring for prosecution business that take advance fees for foreclosure “consulting” and loan modification “services.”  Demanding or accepting upfront fees for such services are illegal in California.

The money originates California’s Foreclosure Crisis Recovery Fund, which is being used to help cities and counties fight real estate fraud, mortgage fraud and foreclosure scams. As a note of interest, the actual money was received from a $6.5 million settle against Countrywide executives Angelo Mozilo and David Sambol.

Read the original article in U-T San Diego.

$3 Transaction Tax Extended to Fight Real Estate Fraud in Orange County

March 29th, 2012 at 8:50pm

The Orange County Board of Supervisors has reportedly extended a $3 tax on the sale of real property in order to continue to fund the Orange County District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit.

According to an article in Voice of OC, the OCDA’s Real Estate Fraud Unit has successfully prosecuted (convicted) 53 people of criminal real estate fraud in Orange County in the three years since the surtax went into effect. The losses to victims were $39.8 million.

AG Harris Proposes a Homeowners Bill of Rights

March 29th, 2012 at 8:42pm

California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who played a key role in the settlement agreement between the attorneys general for all 50 states and Bank of America, Wells Fargo, GMAC/Ally, JP Morgan Chase and CitiMortgage for the fraudulent “robo-signing” the banking giants used to expedite foreclosure against homeowners, has now devised a Bill of Rights.

Although currently referred to as a Homeowners Bill of Rights, the proposed legislation would provide protection to legal tenants as well. It seeks to redress ongoing bad faith (in my opinion) business practices employed by not only the above banks but other lending institutions as well.

Here are some of the highlights:

(1) An end, or at least moderation, of the practice of dual-tracking. Thousands of homeowners thought they were working with their bank on a loan modification and then found out the bank was pursuing and completing foreclosure against them.

(2) Evicting tenants who have valid leases on houses that were foreclosed will cease.

(3) Believe it or not, robo-signing is still happening and which lender actually owns the promissory note to the property is obscured through the use of the Mortgage Electronic Registration System (MERS). MERS is the conduit by which the banks avoided paying city and county transfer taxes, which is required when there is a sale and makes it impossible for a homeowner wanting to contact his or her lender to know who it is.

(4) A new concept: proposal of a multi-jurisdictional grand jury for complex cases that cross county lines.

AG Harris also proposes a $25 fee to be paid by lenders or their trustees, upon filing a Notice of Default (NOD) against a borrower. The revenue generated would help fund law enforcement actions against lenders that fail to comply.

Read the original article in the Orange County Register.

Who Would Have Thought? Timeshare Resale Fraud is a Problem

March 29th, 2012 at 8:23pm

In this difficult economy, many Americans who own timeshares in resort locations are having to sell them. And as readers of the California Real Estate Fraud Report know well, whenever there is financial pressure, there is a new flock of con artists ready to rip-off the unsuspecting.

According to a Consumer Alert issued by the California Department of Real Estate, there has been an increase in reports by owners of timeshares who have been scammed. Three common scams are mentioned and they parallel the loan modification fraud scams that I report on often on this blog:

(1) Scammer asks for an upfront fee. Never, ever pay anybody to sell real estate with an advance fee. The scammer takes the fee and usually disappears immediately.

(2) The scammer is unlicensed to sell timeshares. Particularly if you are out of the area from your timeshare, look up the person’s name and address on their state’s real estate licensing website, make sure they are not the subject of disciplinary action, then ask them for a copy of their identification and references from people whose timeshares they have sold. Check with the agent’s office to make sure he or she enjoys a good reputation.

(3) Some crooks contact the timeshare owner and pose as a buyer. “All cash” deals are very enticing, especially to a seller in distress. Again, use a licensed real estate agent to conduct your sale and do the necessary research to ensure that person has experience selling timeshares. Interviewing three or more agents, either from the same, or different brokerages, will give the seller more information and help them to make a safe choice.

Read the original article in the MarketWatch section of the Wall Street Journal.

Short Sale Fraud Book Available on All Formats

March 23rd, 2012 at 9:32am

Dear Readers:

If you want to learn the truth about short sale fraud – all of it – please order a copy of my book. This is an unedited, no-sacred-cows look into the shenanigans of real estate agents and property owners who undertake to profit by committing short sale fraud at the expense of reducing their neighbor’s property values.

Here is how to order my book:

Amazon / Kindle

Smashwords / iPad

You can also order a secured PDF version of the book that is readable only on PCs (the software doesn’t work on Macs apparently). Read the information on the bottom of this link carefully so that you understand the standards for a secured PDF.

Or . . . you can just look to the right side of this blog and find the links to the above vendors.

Monique Bryher, Publisher
California Real Estate Fraud Report

Ventura Area Man & Woman Arrested for Foreclosure Fraud

March 23rd, 2012 at 9:20am

Gloria Becerra, of Oxnard, and Hector Menendez, of Los Angeles, have been charged with four counts of grand theft, 11 counts of foreclosure consultant fraud and one count of attempted grand theft for allegedly promising to save a woman’s home from foreclosure.

Ventura County prosecutor Dominic Kardum charges that Becerra and Menendez ran a phony foreclosure rescue / mortgage rescue program. The business names they used were Sunset Beach Management, Financial Wellness for Homeowners LA and California Sky Premiers.

As is typical with phony foreclosure rescue “services,” the victim indeed received none. The defendants, however, if convicted, could receive up to 12 years in prison.

If you believe you are a victim of Becerra and Menendez, please call the Ventura County District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit at 805-662-1750.

Read the original article in the Ventura County Star.

Guilty Pleas by Owners of Campbell Foreclosure Firm

March 23rd, 2012 at 9:11am

The two owners of M & R Contemporary Solutions Inc., a so-called foreclosure consulting firm in the city of Campbell, have entered please.

Rene Alvarez and Mariano Ortega pled guilty and no contest respectively in Santa Clara Superior Court. According to Santa Clara Deputy District Attorney Mike Fitzsimmons “This was one of the largest, if not largest real estate fraud cases in the county’s history.”

The scheme targeted 400 primarily Latino homeowners and deprived them of nearly $2 million. This was a typical loan modification fraud in which homeowners in foreclosure were promised assistance in exchange for paying upfront fees of $2,000-$3,000.

Read the original article in the Campbell Patch.

© 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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