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Archive for April, 2012

Upland Man Arrested for Forging Notary Seal, Signature

April 27th, 2012 at 9:51am

A complaint filed by a Notary Public stating that her signature and seal had been forged on a grant deed (notary fraud) has resulted in the arrest of an Upland man
Eric Lamonte Smith, 38, has been charged with real estate fraud, identity theft, forgery, and preparing fraudulent credit applications and arraigned in San Bernardino Superior Court.

Smith has pleaded notguilty to the charges.

Prosecutors are alleging that Smith was part of a real estate fraud ring since 2006. The ring and its members allegedly delayed the foreclosure of properties by filing falsified grant deeds; then they would rent out the properties to tenants unaware of the scam (rent skimming). In some instances, the suspects would also obtain fraudulent home equity lines of credit by falsifying credit applications.

Read the original article in the San Bernardino Sun.

Orange County Residents Indicted in REO Fraud

April 26th, 2012 at 6:16pm

Six people – three from Orange County – have been indicted in a so-called property flipping scheme that involved REO (Real Estate Owned) properties.

The defendants are Sylvia Melkonian, 48, of Laguna Beach, Andrew Wardein, 38, of Irvine, Craig Shults, 41, of Huntington Beach, Sheridan Snyder, 65, of Turtletown, Tennessee, Paul LiCausi, 47, of Fort Pierce, Florida and Joseph Haymore, 31, of Port St. Lucie, Florida.

In each case, the investors (victims) were told the REO/bank-owned properties for up to $45,000 and told that the properties had clean titles, property management contracts and guaranteed renters for three months. They also were told by the defendants that they could resell the properties back at end of a year for $60,000 None of this was true, and in fact title could not be acquired with some of the properties (title fraud) and others were encumbered by tax or other liens, were uninhabitable, condemned or had building permit or code issues. The properties had been purchased by the defendants for $10,000 each.

Read the original article in the Orange County Breeze.

Tax Preparer on Her Way to Prison for Mortgage Fraud

April 26th, 2012 at 6:00pm

A woman who operated a Bakersfield tax preparing firm has admitted to participating in preparing and filing a fraudulent tax return to the IRS on behalf of a client. Her poor judgment is costing her dearly, as she has just been sentenced to three years and one month in prison for mortgage fraud by Chief United States District Judge Anthony W. Ishii.

Patricia Ann King, 57, owned The Tax Kings and as a tax preparer assisted taxpayers (who became co-defendants) in submitting false loan application documentation so that they could obtain loans from mortgage lenders (loan fraud, mortgage fraud). She also claimed to be a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) when in fact she was not.

King must also pay $530,300 in restitution to the lenders that were defrauded and $174,002 in restitution to the IRS.

The Patricia Ann King case was the result of a cooperative investigation by the FBI, the IRS-CID (Criminal Investigation Division) and a mortgage fraud task force based in Fresno assembled by the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kirk E. Sherriff and Henry Z. Carbajal III were the prosecutors for the mortgage fraud case.

Read the original article in KERO 23.

San Martino Man Sentenced to 10 Years for Mortgage Fraud

April 26th, 2012 at 5:10pm

Scott Dority, 54, a San Marino man who pleaded guilty in March 2011 to stealing $9 million from lenders by using straw buyers to purchase properties with falsified loan documents (loan fraud, mortgage fraud), has been sentenced to 121 months in federal prison. Dority used much of us ill-gotten gains to buy houses and splurge on Ferraris and Lamborghinis.

United States District Judge R. Gary Klausner imposed the sentence after Dority pleaded guilty wire fraud, conspiracy, aggravated identity theft and two counts of tax evasion. He was also required to allocute that the fraud he perpetrated resulted at least $4 million in losses to mortgage lending institutions (mortgage fraud) and $5 million to lenders who specialized in loans for cars (Ferrari fraud?).

The Scott Dority case was investigated jointly by the FBI, the IRS – Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CID) and the United States Secret Service.

Read the original article in the Pasadena Star News.

Lawsuit Filed against Lenders for Fraud in Land Purchase

April 26th, 2012 at 4:58pm

A man has filed a civil lawsuit against three lenders and an individual alleging fraud regarding the prepayment penalty clause in the real estate contract used to purchase a tract of land. The land is located in Pacific Beach in San Diego and was purchased for $1.6 million in 2007.

The lawsuit was filed by the San Diego law firm of Morris and Associates and is entitled Barton v. Michael Pohl (an individual), Rancho Santa Fe Mortgage, First California Bank and JP Morgan Chase Bank.

Specifically, the plaintiff Barton is alleging that when he inquired as to the prepayment penalty for the loan, he was told it was “about” 1% but that the contract also contained a complex calculation with respect to the prepayment penalty.  When Barton was forced to sell the property to pay a death tax liability when his mother passed away in 2011, he was presented a notice that the prepayment penalty was $449,607.85.

The case number for this lawsuit is 37-2012-00094774-CU-MC-CTL, and is being assigned to Judge Judith F. Hayes in the Superior Court of California, County of San Diego, Central Division.

Read the original article in SF

Orange County Broker Gets 8 Years in Prison for Mortgage Fraud

April 26th, 2012 at 4:42pm

A mortgage broker who was accused of participating in a sophisticated mortgage fraud conspiracy with three other members of her family has received a stiff sentence by the judge.

Sushama Devi Lohia, 74, of Newport Beach, in December pleaded guilty to about 60 felony counts, including conspiracy, forgery, grand theft, identification theft and false recording of a deed (title fraud). She also pleaded guilty to 10 counts of tax evasion, according to Deputy District Attorney Douglas Brannan.

Lohia was accused of stealing more than $16 million from lenders by using straw buyers (people who “rent” their good credit out) to purchase properties on behalf of others. Loan applications were falsified, including inflating the income and assets of the applicants.

Lohia’s two daughters are awaiting their trials, as is a third relative.

Sushama Lohia’s real estate broker’s license is still active as of this date with the California Department of Real Estate (DRE).

Read the original article in the OC Register.

Irvine Attorney Sentenced to 4 Years in Prison for Mortgage Fraud

April 25th, 2012 at 9:13am

Gerald L. Wolfe, 41, an Irvine attorney and former real estate broker, is going to prison for 46 months after being convicted of wire fraud in a mortgage fraud scam. He also must provide $7.5 million in restitution to the banks from which he stole the funds.

Wolfe and his alleged co-conspirators purchase 30 homes in Orange and Riverside counties between 2005 and 2006 by using straw buyers, then falsifying loan applications (loan fraud, mortgage fraud).  According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Brett Sagel, Wolfe received $25 million in property that was funded by the lenders, with none of his own money, and received $2.2 million back in cash.

Read the original article in the OC Register.

Carlsbad Mother and Attorney Son Sent to Jail for Mortgage Fraud

April 25th, 2012 at 9:02am

A Carlsbad woman who is a real estate agent and her son, an attorney, are sitting in jail, awaiting sentencing after they were convicted by a jury of stealing $8 million from lenders.

Aida Agusti Castro, 67, and Stephen Kenneth Chrysler, 46, of Orange County, were both convicted of multiple counts of wire fraud in the sale of 16 homes in Oceanside, Escondido, San Marcos.

Stephen Chrysler was the owner and CEO of SKC Real Estate in Carlsbad. Aida Castro was an officer of SKC and sold real estate. Chrysler’s real estate license with the California Department of Real Estate is expired; I could find no record of Castro possessing a real estate license.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, through various means of falsifying loan statements and applications (loan fraud, mortgage fraud), the pair obtained up to $350,000 in real estate commissions and loan fees in the sales of properties. Considering they both receive 20 year prison sentences and $250,000 in fines, the so-called earned fees seem inadequate.

 Read the original article in Courthouse News Service.

East L.A. Residents Charged in Real Estate Fraud Ring

April 25th, 2012 at 8:47am

Gerard Bueno, 35, of La Habra Heights, and Jesus Vega Jr., 28, of Hacienda Heights, have been arrested and charged with operating a mortgage fraud ring that resulted in $2.3 million in losses to CitiMortage and MetLife Bank.

Bueno ran Pres Mex Inc., and Vega operated JVJ Inc.
Los Angeles County sheriff’s Detective Christopher Derry said that the two men obtained title to six properties in Los Angeles County fraudulently by “various means.” They then sold the properties to themselves at above-market prices (appraisal fraud) by using friends and relatives as straw buyers, submitting false loan application information (loan fraud, mortgage fraud). All the homes subsequently went into default.There have been six other arrests in this real estate scam, including George Kent, 66, of La Mirada.Read the original article in the Whittier Daily News.

Antioch Builder Seeno Homes Investigated for Builder Bailout

April 25th, 2012 at 8:31am

Builder Bailout is a term used to describe how developers save their businesses in a falling market by inventing creative means of selling their new home inventory at higher-than-market prices.

The FBI is investigating the possibility of a builder buyout in the case of Seeno Homes, based in the Bay Area.

In mid-2006, as the real estate market was beginning its slow but steady course towards a financial Niagara Falls, letters were being sent by Seeno Homes to prospective home owners. These letters allegedly enticed the recipients with a $100,000 incentive toward the purchase of their dream home – as long as the recipients kept the offer confidential, meaning, hiding the deal from their lender and appraiser (mortgage fraud).

The point of such sales tactics is to keep home values high and appease the builders’ own lenders.

Seeno sales executive Carey Hendrickson has been arrested, but not charged, following a still-ongoing FBI investigation into allegations that Seeno Homes, the largest developer in the East Bay, used their incentive program to artificially inflate home prices (real estate fraud, appraisal fraud) and to conceal that information from their own lending sources (loan fraud).

Read the original article in the Contra Costa 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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