California Real Estate Fraud Report

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Archive for July, 2015

Ponzi scheme or real estate investment gone bad?

July 29th, 2015 at 5:19pm

Just a few short months after soliciting investors by mail, the CEO of Pacific Property Assets (PPA) in Irvine filed bankruptcy.

Now, Michael J. Stewart is standing trial on 11 counts of fraud after his “Opportunity Fund,” which took in $91 million from 650 investors collapsed. Investors were lured in by mailers telling them their money would be used to acquire apartment buildings a bit over half their replacement costs.

Stewart, 68, argued that PPA failed as a result of the housing and economic recession, but prosecutors say otherwise, saying PPA made money from the appreciation of the 50 apartment buildings it owned in Long Beach, Riverside and Arizona, which it refinanced. When the economy stalled in 2008, lenders stopped refinancing and, according to U.S. Attorney Joshua Robbins, the company turned to funding by individual investors, whose money was used to pay back previous investors, as well as salaries and expenses for Stewart and John J. Packard, 65, his partner.

The lenders lost about $24 million when the apartment buildings defaulted on the mortgages.

Read the original article in the Orange County Register.


Prepared Remarks of CFPB Director Richard Cordray at the White House Conference on Aging

July 23rd, 2015 at 8:14am

Press Release from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau website:

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is working hard to make financial markets work better on behalf of 320 million American consumers. In particular, our new agency specifically recognizes the need to protect older Americans against financial exploitation and promote economic security later in life. With the aging of the baby boomer generation, that mission has never been more important.

Our Office for Older Americans has done much great work around elder justice, the topic of the upcoming panel. Our team has traveled the country listening to older Americans. Based on what we heard, we have issued studies, guides, and advisories to arm seniors and their caregivers with the information and tools they need to protect themselves and their precious retirement savings.

Unfortunately, we have seen that older Americans all too often fall prey to financial exploitation. They make attractive targets because they often have higher household wealth in the form of retirement savings or home equity or both. They may develop impaired capacity and they can be isolated and vulnerable.

Recent studies found that financial exploitation is the most common form of elder abuse, but only a small fraction of incidents is ever reported. So we are calling on financial institutions to do their part to help protect older Americans. The Consumer Bureau will release an advisory later this year to help financial institutions prevent, recognize, and report elder financial abuse. When seniors fall victim to a scam or to theft by a trusted family member, they may be too embarrassed or too frail to pursue legal action or even to report that they have suffered harm. So it is crucial that others are looking out for them. Financial institutions are especially well-positioned to prevent such fraud.

The Consumer Bureau was born out of the recent financial crisis, and our work is still in its early stages. But as the American economy recovers, we want consumers of all ages to be able to look ahead with hope and resilience. We want them to know they have a new agency standing on their side and looking out for their interests, to help restore confidence and trust in the consumer financial marketplace. With your help and advice, we are glad to work with you to do that.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Medicare, Medicaid, and the Older Americans Act, as well as the 80th anniversary of the Social Security Act. As we celebrate all the benefits these laws have brought to countless Americans, let’s not forget all there is still to do. I look forward to today’s discussion, facilitated by Assistant Secretary for Aging Kathy Greenlee. She has been an excellent partner in this work and a strong leader of the Elder Justice Coordinating Council. Thank you.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a 21st century agency that helps consumer finance markets work by making rules more effective, by consistently and fairly enforcing those rules, and by empowering consumers to take more control over their economic lives. For more information, visit

Danville real estate agent pleads guilty to short sale fraud of his own properties

July 22nd, 2015 at 4:18pm

Anthony Keslinke, 47, a Danville real estate broker, pleaded guilty to two conspiracy charges as part of a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California.

Keslinke was arrested in February 2014 and charged with 12 counts of fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy dating from between February 2011 and March 2014, when he falsified documents to lenders in order to short-sell his own East Bay properties.  He sold his properties in Danville and Walnut Creek by using straw buyers in order to retain control of the properties, both of which he later sold at a profit.

Prosecutors also said that Keslinke met with an undercover federal agent posing as a drug dealer and accepted a total of $550,000 from the man.

Read the original article in the Mercury News.

July 22nd, 2015 at 4:04pm

Brothers Isaac Soussana  and Israel Soussana have been sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for their roles in a mortgage fraud whereby the prices of waterfront condominiums in Long Beach were artificially inflated.  Straw buyers were used to make the purchases and some of the excess was used to pay the straw buyers.

U.S. District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez ordered them  to pay restitution of about $4.8 million, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Both Soussanas pleaded guilty last year to a federal bank fraud count.


Read the original article in the Press-Telegram.

Tamara Tikal sentenced to prison for KATN mortgage rescue scam

July 22nd, 2015 at 3:38pm

Tamara Tikal, 45, the wife of convicted felon Alan David Tikal,  has been sentenced to 45 months in federal prison for her role in the KATN foreclosure rescue scam run by her husband and Ray Kornfeld. She was previously convicted of conspiring to commit mail fraud in a scheme that defrauded the victimized homeowners of over $5.8 million.

Alan Tikal, 46 was sentenced to 24 years in prison earlier this year after being convicted of 11 counts of mail fraud and one count of money laundering. Ray Kornfield was sentenced to five years in prison in February 2015 and ordered to pay $3 million in restitution, according to a press release by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California.

Alan Tikal’s prosecutors accused him of operating a business called KATN between January 7, 2010 and August 20, 2013, which sought “vulnerable and non-English speaking homeowners.” Tikal, who falsely claimed that he was a registered private banker, promised homeowners that he could reduce their mortgages by 75% in exchange for upfront fees and other payments. Prosecutors said there was no evidence that the Tikals or Kornfeld helped to get the mortgage debt of their victims forgiven or paid-off and that in fact they spent the monies they received on expensive cars, clothes and travel expenses.

Christy Romero, the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, said that after Alan Tikal was arrested and in jail, he continued to run his scam and that Tamara Tikal helped pay employee salaries, notarized documents and opened and maintained post office boxes and bank accounts that received payments from the homeowners.

Tamara Tikal was also ordered to pay $3,671,000 in restitution to victims of the offense.

“Tamara Tikal was sentenced to 45 months in federal prison for her role in a massive fraud scheme that robbed more than one thousand struggling homeowners out of millions of dollars in savings with false promises of saving victims’ homes from foreclosure,” Romero said. “Those who engage in fraud related to TARP will be brought to justice by SIGTARP and our law enforcement partners.”

Read the original article in HousingWire.

Ojai woman sentenced in foreclosure fraud, short sale fraud case

July 22nd, 2015 at 3:15pm

Ojai  resident Nelly Luz Rubiano has been sentenced by Ventura County Superior Court Judge David Hirsch to one year in county jail. The 58-year-old had previously pleaded guilty to charges of felony grand theft and foreclosure consultant fraud.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Tony Wold argued that Rubiano presented herself to her fellow Hispanics as a specialist in loan modifications and referred people to Foreclosure Legal Services, located in the city of Orange. As with the Herrera prosecution (also by the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office, click here to read), victims were promised their homes would be purchased and sold back to them at a reduced price and they were illegally charged advance/upfront fees for services that were not delivered.

Read the original article in


Wall Street Journal reports: Bank of North Dakota outperforms Wall Street

July 17th, 2015 at 11:20am

The biggest fear of Wall Street banks (WF, BofA, Goldman Sachs, et. al.) is that public banking will gain a foothold in the U.S.

If you don’t know what public banking is and you’re concerned over the future of this country, go to the Public Banking Institute website and educate yourself. Then read the Web of Debt.

Read the latest article about the Bank of North Dakota from the Public Banking Institute and the Wall Street Journal.

7 white lies that can hurt your homebuying chances

July 17th, 2015 at 9:30am

The title to this article says it all. But the most important point is that any falsification on an application for a home loan is mortgage fraud and could result in severe consequences.

Read the original article in NewsNet5

Twin brother of man serving time for real estate fraud, foreclosure fraud pleads not guilty

July 16th, 2015 at 6:23pm

Juan Herrera, 38, already sentenced for a foreclosure fraud scheme he operated with his twin brother, Michael, is being prosecuted by the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office for related crimes.

Michael pleaded out to the same prosecuting office and is spending the year in jail.

The twins advertised foreclosure services through Spanish-language media, promising homeowners in distress that they would purchase their homes, rent them back to the owners and later re-sell them the homes at reduced prices. According to Senior Deputy District Attorney Tony Wold, the victims, most of whom spoke little or no English, were charge thousands of dollars in advance/upfront fees in order to participate in the defendants’ programs. Advance fees are illegal in the state of California.

Read the original article in the Ventura County Star.



Four Sacramento-area people convicted in mortgage fraud case

July 15th, 2015 at 8:25am

An investigation by the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation has resulted in the successful prosecution of four people for conspiracy related to mortgage fraud.

The convicted defendants are Olga Palamarchuk, 45, of Rancho Cordova, Peter Kuzmenko, 37, of West Sacramento; Pyotr Bondaruk, 44, and Vera Zhiry, 35, both of Sacramento.

Palamarchuk, a loan officer at Capital Mortgage Lending Inc., recruited Bondaruk to purchase two homes using 100 percent financing, and then to get a home equity loan on one of the houses. They submitted fraudulent loan applications and distributed the proceeds they skimmed from the over-valued properties to Kuzmenko and Zhiry.

Read the original article in the Sacramento Journal.

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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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