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Man Held in Alleged Real Estate Scam

Santa Paula police say he allegedly swindled a businessman, 83, out of $600,000 while pretending to help him buy a farm.

October 03, 2003|Rodney Bosch | Times Staff Writer

Santa Paula police have arrested a man on suspicion of bilking an elderly Santa Paula businessman out of $600,000 in a real estate scam.

Anthony Navarro, 42, of Santa Paula is expected to be charged today with grand theft, forgery and possession of cocaine, authorities said. His bail was set at $400,000.

Navarro is suspected of defrauding the 83-year-old man who wanted to buy a farm, Sgt. Steve Carter said.

The owners had taken the property off the market. But the elderly man, whose name has not been released, told police that Navarro, whom he had met about two years ago, had duped him into thinking that the owners wanted to sell and that he could serve as a go-between, Carter said.

Navarro convinced the man to let him handle the transaction, authorities said.

"He told the victim the owners wanted to use him and keep it low-key" and avoid paying a commission to a real estate agent, Carter said.

Over several months, the man gave Navarro checks amounting to about $360,000, which he cashed at the man's bank in Santa Paula, Carter said.

The man also provided property such as tractors, back hoes, trucks, golf carts and antiques, some of which Navarro sold for cash, Carter said.

While searching Navarro's business, Global Surplus Recovery Inc., police discovered warrants for his arrest from Alhambra and Nevada involving fraud-related cases, Carter said.

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