California Real Estate Fraud Report

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Fair Oaks man convicted in fraudulent sale of his investment properties

June 23rd, 2015 at 9:28am

Tony Salcedo, a Fair Oaks mortgage broker and licensed real estate salesperson, has been found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and four counts of mail fraud, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California.

In a unique form of mortgage fraud, in 2005 and 2006 Salcedo hired licensed mortgage broker Sean McClendon, 49, of Fair Oaks, and Anthony Williams, 47, previously of Memphis, Tennessee, to find buyers for Salcedo’s properties. He paid kickbacks to McClendon and the buyers outside of escrow (escrow fraud), meaning these payments were not disclosed to the lenders as part of the purchase and sale contracts.  Fraudulent documentation was submitted to the lenders in order to obtain loans for the buyers.

As a result of the scheme, the lenders granted loans over the actual value of the properties. Two or more of the buyers declared bankruptcy and lost not only the investment properties they purchased from Salcedo, but their own homes. Tony Salcedo and his family, though, released themselves from $1.6 million in mortgage loan debt.

Sean McClendon pleaded guilty in October 2013 and is still waiting to be sentenced. Anthony Williams, who also pleaded guilty, is serving a prison sentence of two years and nine months.

Read the original article in the Sacramento Bee.


Law firm sues J. Rockcliff brokerage for kickbacks on TransactionPoint program

June 12th, 2015 at 2:09pm

La Jolla-based law firm Bottini & Bottini has filed suit against J. Rockcliff, Inc. and Jeffrey W. Sposito for violation of California Civil code 1710 (3), California Business and Prof. Code 17200, fraud and others. The plaintiffs (“Class”) hired J. Rockcliff in the purchase or sale of residences in California between July 1, 2007 and July 11, 2011 and the defendants (the agents or owners) received payments related to Fidelity National Financial‘s TransactionPoint software.

Read the complaint by clicking here.

This lawsuit comes on the heels of similar class action lawsuits against Alain Pinel and Pacific Pinnacle, also filed by Bottini & Bottini.

Fidelity has already settled charges brought by HUD having to do with the TransactionPoint program, by agreeing to pay HUD $4.5 million for alleged violations of RESPA kickbacks.

In the current lawsuit, the plaintiffs are accusing the defendants of accepting undisclosed payments from steering business to one another as real estate agents and other services without disclosing this to the plaintiffs. If true, the various complaints: breaches of fiduciary duties, fraudulent concealment, violation of California’s unfair competition law, constructive fraud and unjust enrichment, could cost the defendants to have to return their full commissions to the plaintiffs.


Read the original article in RE-Insider.

Three more convicted in Rancho Cucamonga loan modification fraud case

June 11th, 2015 at 2:15pm

The owners of a telemarketing company that prosecutors accused of stealing more than $7 million from 4,000 homeowners in distress were convicted of various felony charges in U.S. District Court in Riverside.

Victims lost more than $7 million when they paid for services, including loan modifications, that were never provided after they were contacted through cold calls, advertisements and company-controlled websites.

Christopher Paul George, 45, co-owned 21st Century Legal Services Inc. George was found guilty by a federal jury of wire fraud, wire fraud affecting a financial institution and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.

In the same trial, Crystal Taiwana Buck, 40 of Long Beach, whom prosecutors called a sales “closer,” was convicted of mail fraud.

Albert DiRoberto, 62, of Fullerton, a sales and marketing employee, was found guilty of mail and wire fraud affecting a financial institution.

Christopher George’s  co-owner, Andrea Ramirez, 47,  was convicted in the operation of 21st Century after an earlier trial

“Members of the conspiracy preyed upon homeowners who were in desperate financial straits by making promises they had no intention of keeping,” Acting U.S. Attorney Stephanie Yonekura said in the news release by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.

To date, a total of 11 defendants linked to 21st Century have been convicted of federal fraud charges as a result of an investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; IRS – Criminal Investigation; the United States Postal Inspection Service; the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP); and the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General.



June 10th, 2015 at 7:42am

Ventura resident Joseph Anthony Florendo Mele, 30, has been charged with grand theft and financial elder abuse.

Mele was arrested by the Santa Barbara Police Department after Montecito Bank & Trust reported to authorities that one of their 93-year-old customers was a possible victim.

Read the original article in KEYT.


JPMorgan Chase employee pleads guilty to stealing from elderly man

June 2nd, 2015 at 10:16am

A former JPMorgan Chase Bank employee prosecuted for stealing $100,000 from an elderly Livermore man with dementia pleaded guilty to three felony counts of financial elder abuse.

Alejandro “Alex” Ojeda, 28, of Fremont, entered the plea in front of Alameda County Superior Court Judge Dan Grimmer. Three months earlier,  Judge Christine Moruza refused to accept a deal with Marin County Deputy District Attorney Jerry Herman that would have dropped the special allegations of elder abuse in exchange for a plea of guilty to grand theft. Click California Real Estate Fraud Report to read that story.

“We are pleased that this ordeal is almost over but dismayed that Mr. Ojeda didn’t take responsibility long before now,” Magel’s daughter Linda said. “We want to get the word out that one must be diligent and protect their loved ones who may be easy prey to someone like (Ojeda) and the lack of adequate oversight by employers like J.P. Morgan Chase Bank.”

Read the original article in the Contra Costa Times.

Woman pleads guilty in Oxnard title fraud case

June 2nd, 2015 at 9:17am

Gina Marie Hernandez, 37, has pleaded guilty to recording a false document in order to help a friend make bail.

According to the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office, recording a fraudulent document that encumbered an Oxnard residence as collateral for her friend Hayser Scarlett Lopez, 46. Lopez fled the country once she was granted bail but returned later.

Peggy Ann Soto, 55, was recruited by Hernandez to execute a phony power of attorney and to impersonate the Oxnard homeowner at Lopez’ bail hearing in Kern County Superior Court.

Read the original article in the Ventura County Star.


Petaluma man arrested in alleged mortgage modification scam

May 29th, 2015 at 9:38am

California Department of Justice agents have arrested Miguel Angel Lopez-Soleta after an extended investigation into allegations by homeowners that he did not fulfill promises to them to negotiate with banks for their mortgages.

Lopez-Soleta is facing 46 counts of fraud, grand theft, financial crimes against the elderly and burglary in a case in which 23 alleged victims have been named. The victims sought out assistance with him and his former company Mortgage Modifiers Inc., for help in modifying loans.

Lopez-Soleta and his wife, Heidi Beth Marks-Lopez, filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2014. Their bankruptcy filing listed 537 creditors, many of whom claim that Lopez-Soleta charged them upfront fees (illegal since 2009) to help modify their home loans but never contact the lenders. As a result, some of those homeowners say they either lost their homes or were forced into even further debt.

Miguel Angel Lopez-Soleta’s real estate license was revoked in 2012. Click here to read a copy of the administrative action taken by the California Bureau of Real Estate.

Read the original article in the Press Democrat.

Straw buyers convicted in mortgage fraud case

May 29th, 2015 at 7:56am

A Sacramento jury has convicted six people who acted as straw buyers in the fraudulent purchase of homes located in Roseville, Sacramento and West Sacramento.

Irina Markevich, 30, of Rio Linda; Anatoliy Markevich, 35, of Sacramento; and Marina Pukhkan, 53, of Rio Linda were each convicted of two counts of wire fraud, according to a press release by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of California. Daniil Markevich, 38, and his wife, Svetlana Markevich, 38, both of Escondido, and Alex Markevich, 40, of Rio Linda were each convicted of one count of wire fraud.

During the 12-day trial, prosecutors presented evidence that  between February 2007 and March 2008, the straw buyers obtained home loans by submitting fraudulent loan applications and supporting documentation that also contained false information about their income, assets, bank accounts and intent to occupy the residences. The profits arose from puffing up the purchase prices and for payments  for non-existent construction work.

The defendants allowed all of the properties to go into foreclosure after making only a few payments.


New York Attorney General arrests man in Wells Fargo short sale fraud case

May 28th, 2015 at 9:34am

The office of New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has announced that Fedlaire Aristide of Freeport, N.Y. has been arrested in an alleged short sale fraud.

According to the indicment, Aristide is alleged to have submitted or assisted in the submission of documents that were forged and contained fraudulent information to Wells Fargo for the purposes of purchasing a home in Brooklyn at under-market value. He was also charged with taking thousands of dollars from a Brooklyn couple towards the purchase of that home. Aristide would have made a quick profit by “flopping” the home to the couple if the bank had approved the short sale. He refused to return their money when Wells Fargo rejected the sale.

“We have zero tolerance for anyone who steals from hard-working New Yorkers, especially those who use the promise of homeownership to do so,” said AG Schneiderman. “My office will continue to pursue justice against anyone who attempts to profit from mortgage fraud.”


Read the original story in National Mortgage Professional.

Two plead guilty to short sale fraud in Virginia

May 28th, 2015 at 9:06am

The following is a press release from the FBI:

WASHINGTON—An Ashburn, Virginia resident was convicted today by a federal jury on 13 charges related to mortgage fraud, passing fictitious financial instruments, and tax fraud, the Department of Justice announced.

Charise Stone, 46, was indicted on April 15, 2014. According to court records and evidence at trial, Stone targeted distressed homeowners from 2007 to 2010 who owed more on their mortgage loan than the market value of the home with false promises of financial recovery. Stone acquired distressed homeowners’ properties in her own name or under entities she controlled, made false representations to mortgage lenders in order to induce approval of the short sales, and then re-sold the properties—often the same day or the next—to new buyers at a price above the short sale amount, in violation of agreements made with mortgage lenders.

Jose Marinay owned a settlement company that closed every short sale transaction for Stone. Marinay pleaded guilty to wire-fraud conspiracy on May 27, 2014. At his and Stone’s direction, fraudulent HUD-1 settlement statements were prepared to facilitate the transactions. Marinay destroyed some of the incriminating documents after closings. Financial institutions suffered losses of at least $2.2 million from the scheme. Stone profited more than $700,000 from these transactions but failed to file individual income tax returns. She also sent fictitious bonds to the IRS in an attempt to pay off her tax liability, and she sent fake international promissory notes to creditors purporting to satisfy her credit card debt as well as her mortgage loan.

Stone faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for each of the wire fraud and wire-fraud conspiracy charges, 30 years in prison for the charges of false statements to a bank, 25 years in prison for the fictitious obligation charges, three years for the charge of corruptly impeding the internal revenue laws, and one year for each count of willful failure to file a tax return at her Aug. 14 sentencing.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Caroline D. Ciraolo of the Justice Department’s Tax Division, U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente, of the Eastern District of Virginia, Assistant Director in Charge Andrew G. McCabe of the FBI’S Washington Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Kelly, of the Internal Revenue Service -Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Washington, D.C. Field Office, made the announcement after the verdict was accepted by U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office and IRS-C I. Assistant U.S. Attorney Uzo Asonye and Assistant Chief Todd Ellinwood of the Tax Division are prosecuting the case.

Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:14-CR-127.

Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found on the division’s website

© Copyright 2007-2017 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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