California Real Estate Fraud Report

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Archive for January, 2015

Former FBI employee, wife, plead guilty to bank fraud

January 29th, 2015 at 4:04pm

Charles Espinel, a former FBI file clerk and support services technician, and his wife Jeannette Espinel were each sentenced to 90 days in prison plus six months monitoring and 200 hours of community service for committing bank fraud.

In their plea agreements, the Espinels admitted that, beginning in 2006 and continuing through 2010, they defrauded First California Bank and Wells Fargo Bank on loan applications two purchase two rental properties, one for $750,000 in Daly City and the other for $600,000 in San Bruno, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. The admissions included that they overstated their incomes and that the properties were intended to be occupied as their primary residences.

Read the original article in the Mercury News.

Hispanics charged with targeting other Hispanics in Orange County loan modification scam

January 29th, 2015 at 3:50pm

Five people are facing charges of committing loan modification fraud by targeting Latino victims throughout Southern California. Three of the defendants are family members and are charged with leading a family-run home loan modification ring and illegally charging victims for services that they did not provide.

According to an article in the Orange County Breeze,

“Carlos Centeno is accused of owning and operating the Foreclosure Prevention Department in Irvine, and co-defendants Ricardo Centeno and Lizeth Arzate are accused of owning and operating Debt Settlers of America (DSA) in Orange, which advertised assistance for the renegotiation of home loans. The defendants are accused of advertising DSA on Hispanic radio stations throughout the state in order to target victims.

Co-defendants Hector Valdivia and Susie Rabadan are accused of being office managers and consultants at DSA. Valdivia and Rabadan are accused of knowingly assisting Carlos Centeno, Ricardo Centeno and Liz Arzate in charging and accepting illegal upfront fees from victims for services that they did not provide by collecting and processing loan modification applications.”

Prosecutors are alleging that between December 2009 and December 2012, the defendants contacted 23 victims and promised them assistance with negotiating their home loans. The defendants then charged their victims upfront fees (“advance fees”) of $2,000 to $2,500, which is illegal. They are further accused of directly collecting several victims’ monthly mortgage payments and depositing them into their personal bank accounts. As a result, many of the victims’ homes were foreclosed by the lenders.

Orange County Senior Deputy District Attorney Pete Pierce of the Major Fraud Unit is prosecuting this case.

Sacramento man gets over 7 years for brazen mortgage fraud

January 29th, 2015 at 3:34pm

Another successful mortgage fraud prosecution by the prolific United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner.

Leonard E. Williams, 52, was sentenced today to over seven years and three months in prison on charges of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and two counts of money laundering after being found guilty by the federal jury.

According to evidence presented by the prosecution, Williams conspired with his partner Joshua Clymer and others to carry out a mortgage fraud scheme in the Chico and Sacramento areas using his companies Diamond Hill Financial and Bay Area Real Estate Holdings. The two men recruited under-qualified friends, family and other buyers, including family and friends, to purchase homes with promises of cash back, no money down, and non-existent equity in the properties. They facilitated the purchases by fabricating the loan applications. In many of the instances, the loan applications fraudulently stated that the buyers worked at Diamond Hill Financial, and Leonard Williams verified the lies when the victims-lenders called to confirm it.

Since the buyers were unqualified, most defaulted, causing losses to the lending institutions of over $2 million.

Williams is the last of 14 defendants who have been convicted of mortgage fraud offenses in connection with this case. Others who already been convicted and/or pleaded guilty have already been sentenced. They include William E. Baker, Shane Burreson, Christopher M. Chiavola, Carlos Chamorro, Eric Clawson, Niche Fortune, Garret Gililland, Kesha Haynie, Remy Heng, Nicole Magpusao, Brandon Resendez, and Anthony Symmes.

The sentence was imposed by United States District Judge William B. Shubb. He was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Christopher S. Hales and Assistant United States Attorney Audrey B. Hemesath.

This mortgage fraud was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation; and the Butte County District Attorney’s Office’s Major Crimes Unit.

Read the original article in the Imperial Valley News.

Monique Bryher joins the CalBRE Commissioner’s Real Estate and Mortgage Loan Advisory Panel

January 22nd, 2015 at 4:33pm

Press Release:

I was recently invited by Real Estate Commissioner Wayne Bell to be a member of the  Commissioner’s Real Estate and Mortgage Loan Advisory Panel and have accepted.

The Commissioner for the California Bureau of Real Estate (“CalBRE”) and its employees occasionally  reach out to industry members or to subject matter experts or specialists for advice, expertise, guidance, information, ideas, perspectives or feedback on various real estate and/or mortgage topics or issues.

It is indeed an honor to be a contributor to this group of real estate and mortgage industry professionals.

Monique Bryher

California Department of Business Oversight Wants to Suspend Ocwen’s Mortgage License

January 16th, 2015 at 12:32pm

California regulators have Ocwen Financial Corp. in their targets and are reportedly trying to suspend the giant servicer’s mortgage license. They are accusing Ocwen of failing to provide documentation that shows it is in compliance with the California’s laws to protect homeowners.

In 2013, the California legislature passed a package of laws, known as the Homeowners Bill of Rights, which were implemented to increase transparency in the foreclosure process and reduce mortgage fraud.

California Department of Business Oversight spokesman Tom Dresslar said that his department has been asking Ocwen for the required information for almost a year but that Ocwen has “repeatedly failed to adequately respond.” As a result, the agency issued a subpoena and a regulatory order, both of which were violated. That prompted the matter to be referred to an administrative law judge with the request that Ocwen‘s license be revoked.

Read the original article in Fox Business.

Yorba Linda Man, Brother Charged in Loan Modification Scam

January 16th, 2015 at 12:08pm

Thirty-seven year-old Carlos Jose Centeno has been arraigned on allegations he was the puppet-master of a $390,000 loan modification scam that victimized mostly Spanish-speaking persons.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Pete Pierce reported that Centeno has been charged with 121 felony counts that include conspiracy and grand theft for illegally charging upfront fees for loan modification services. His companies were called Foreclosure Prevention Department and Orange-based Debt Settlers of America.

Carlos Centeno’s co-defendants are his brother, Rick Centeno, wife, Lizeth Arzate, Susie Rabadan and Hector Valdivia.

Read the original article in the OC Register.

U.S. Attorney Settles Mortgage Fraud Lawsuit against Golden First Mortgage Corp.

January 16th, 2015 at 9:17am

The government has settled a civil mortgage lawsuit against Golden First Mortgage Corp. that accused the mortgage company and its owner, David Movtady, of defrauding the Federal Housing Authority, according to a press release from U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara.

Golden First Mortgage Corp., which is based in Great Neck, New York,agreed to pay $36 million to settle a complaint originally filed by the U.S. in April 2013 and amended in August 2013. In the complaint, the U.S. accuses Golden First Mortgage Corp. of violating the False Claims Act through years of misconduct relating to the mortgage company’s participation in the Federal Housing Administration (FHA)’s Direct Endorsement Lender Program.

Read the original article in DSNews.

Modesto Man Accused of Bilking Real Estate Investors

January 8th, 2015 at 9:11am

The Modesto Bee reported that Ralph Leyva, 62, was arraigned in Stanislaus Superior Court on three felony counts of grand theft with special allegations of engaging in a pattern of fraud, plus an additional felony count of trying to steal $188,630 from Bank of America.

Leyva, who used aliases of George Anderson and Andrew Taylor, is accused of creating a phony company called California REO Services LLC and  Delta Escrow, according to Prosecutor Jeff Mangar of the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office. The Modesto Bee article states that the charges stem from Leyva allegedly posing as an agent authorized to sell distressed properties foreclosed on by government entities to real estate investors.

Ranch Cucamonga Pair Charged for Selling Home They Didn’t Own

January 8th, 2015 at 8:48am

According to the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office, Emma Adel, 45, and Mazen Fazah, 39,  are facing 22 felong charges for selling a home they fraudulently acquired to an unsuspecting buyer.

The defendants, who own Upland-based business, Smart Edge Auto, forged both the name of the owner (title fraud) and a notary public (notary fraud) on a vacant house, transferred the property into a trust, then re-sold the home to the victims, according to Senior Investigator John Vega.


© 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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