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Real Estate Fraud

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NEWS
July 1, 1996 | JOHN M. GLIONNA, TIMES STAFF WRITER
Inspired by the Marshall Redman case, Kern County officials are pushing a plan to levy new fees to pay for an early warning system against land fraud. If successful, Kern would become only the fourth county in California--joining Los Angeles, Santa Clara and San Diego counties--to take advantage of a new law authorizing local prosecutors to charge an additional $2 in real estate recording fees to pay for such time-consuming and expensive probes.
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BUSINESS
October 31, 2011 | By Stuart Pfeifer, Los Angeles Times
Acne-fighting app — There are smartphone applications for just about everything, but one company went too far by claiming its app could clear up acne, the Federal Trade Commission said. The agency obtained a court order prohibiting AcneApp and AcnePwner from making acne-treatment claims. The apps were sold on Apple's iTunes store and the Android Market and claimed to treat acne with colored lights emitted from smartphones. The app sold for $1.99 on iTunes and 99 cents on the Android marketplace, the FTC said.
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NEWS
March 14, 1993
SHE JUST WANTED TO GET SOME MONEY TO PAY off part of the roughly $10,000 in liens against her South-Central Los Angeles home. Instead, the 71-year-old widow lost her home after taking out more than $100,000 in high-interest loans through the advice of an alleged loan broker and investor who she says defrauded her and took most of the money for himself. "I don't know why I trusted him like that. . . .
BUSINESS
September 1, 2010 | By Stuart Pfeifer, Los Angeles Times
Timothy Barnett spent nearly five years in state prison for a 1990s foreclosure rescue scam in which he conned homeowners out of tens of thousands of dollars. Now, prosecutors say, he has been at it again, targeting residents in the same South Los Angeles neighborhood he fleeced before. But this time, the state is unleashing one of its more powerful weapons against him. The Los Angeles County district attorney's office has charged Barnett under California's much-debated three-strikes law. Usually aimed at offenders with a history of violent crime, it is rarely used for white-collar offenses such as fraud.
OPINION
November 5, 1995
"Home Equity Loan Scandal Targets Elderly" (Oct. 26) mentioned a new law that provides greater resources to investigate real estate fraud. The idea for the law, in fact, originated with the L.A. County district attorney's office as a method of funding badly needed prosecutions of nonviolent crime, without cost to taxpayers. In these tight monetary times, our office is constantly looking for funding, outside the county budget, to prosecute crime. We came up with the idea for this new law, which imposes a $2 recording fee on certain real estate documents to fund investigation and prosecution of real estate fraud.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 19, 1988 | AMY STEVENS, Times Staff Writer
The mastermind behind a $15-million real estate loan and kickback scheme was sentenced Monday in federal court to eight years in prison and ordered to repay $250,000 to at least one of the financial institutions he defrauded. Peter Sampson, who pleaded guilty Feb. 8 to conspiracy and tax evasion, was ordered by U.S. District Judge Edward Rafeedie to spend another five years on probation for his role in the scheme, which involved about a dozen Southern California residential properties.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 18, 2001 | From Times staff reports
A Calabasas business consultant was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison Monday for defrauding two real estate clients out of more than $600,000. Jay Sydney Hoffman, 49, president of now-defunct Hoffman Holmes Group Inc., pleaded guilty earlier this year to two counts of wire fraud. Prosecutors said Hoffman told one client that he could arrange for reduced payoffs on home mortgages because of his connections at the Resolution Trust Corp.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
May 16, 1998
The last two defendants in what prosecutors described as the largest real estate fraud ever perpetrated against the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development have pleaded guilty to mail fraud charges in Los Angeles federal court. Shirley Pereira Da Silva, 36, of Los Angeles and Luis Alberto Valladares, 44, of Hacienda Heights entered their pleas before U.S. District Judge J. Spencer Letts on Thursday. They face a maximum of three years in prison.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
August 12, 1986 | JANE APPLEGATE, Times Staff Writer
Two Orange County businessmen pleaded guilty Monday to a real estate fraud that used inflated appraisals and false documentation on two parcels of land in the San Fernando Valley area to get $21 million from a consortium of banks. At a federal court hearing, John (Skip) Chodak, 43, of Laguna Hills pleaded guilty to six counts of wire fraud and one count of interstate transportation of funds obtained by fraud.
BUSINESS
July 30, 1988 | JOHN O'DELL, Times Staff Writer
A Fountain Valley builder and property manager has been arrested by the Orange County Sheriff's Department on charges of engineering a multimillion-dollar real estate fraud with more than 100 victims. John Walter Partridge, owner of Partridge Development, AAA Maintenance & Painting and four other firms housed at two Fountain Valley locations, was taken into custody earlier this week on a warrant charging him with nine counts of grand theft and four counts of equity purchase fraud, all felonies.
BUSINESS
January 30, 2010 | By Nathan Olivarez-Giles
A former Beverly Hills real estate appraiser was sentenced to three years in federal prison Friday for her role in a multimillion-dollar real estate fraud ring. A Los Angeles federal judge also ordered Lila Rizk to pay part of $46 million in restitution to RBC Mortgage, a subsidiary of the Royal Bank of Canada; Bank of America Corp.; and other lenders that together lost about $50 million on loans totaling $142 million in the scheme, said Assistant U.S. Atty. Jeremy Matz. Rizk, 42, of Trabuco Canyon in Orange County, along with 10 other developers, agents and appraisers, bought homes in wealthy areas such as Beverly Hills and La Jolla, then inflated the homes' value to get loans, Matz said.
BUSINESS
April 8, 2009 | Tony Perry
Two dozen people have been charged with racketeering in connection with an allegedly fraudulent mortgage scheme run by a street gang member, according to an indictment unsealed Tuesday in federal court in San Diego. The group allegedly profited from loans arranged for amounts in excess of the price of the homes, among other tactics. The homes went into foreclosure soon after they were sold, according to the indictment.
BUSINESS
February 5, 2009 | Roger Vincent
Small investors accused a prominent California real estate brokerage and a former Orange County businessman in a lawsuit Wednesday of taking part in an elaborate scam that fleeced individual investors out of millions of dollars in recent years. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Jose, alleges that brokers at Marcus & Millichap allegedly took part in a conspiracy to buy small commercial properties, artificially inflate their values and sell them to unsuspecting investors.
BUSINESS
August 13, 2008 | E. Scott Reckard, Times Staff Writer
An investment promoter who promised Spanish speakers a bonanza in distressed real estate but allegedly cost them millions of dollars has been arrested on a federal charge of bribing a bank executive. Juan Rangel of Downey, 44, owner of Commerce-based Financial Plus Investments, was in custody pending a bail hearing Friday in Los Angeles. In a court affidavit, FBI Special Agent Stephanie A. Talamantez said dozens of investors mobbed the offices of Financial Plus Investments and two related companies, RQ Investments and RQ Properties, after Rangel closed the firms July 25. Then the investors headed for the FBI's office in West Covina.
BUSINESS
May 9, 2008 | Patrick McGreevy, Times Staff Writer
Alarmed that real estate fraud is contributing to California's mortgage foreclosure crisis, the state Senate voted Thursday to allow counties to increase fees for filing property purchase documents to beef up fraud investigation units. The bill was supported by Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca and Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley, who are seeing an explosion in the number of fraud cases tied to foreclosures.
BUSINESS
July 8, 2006 | E. Scott Reckard
A San Clemente man accused of defrauding investors in a wide-ranging real estate scam has agreed to plead guilty to one count of wire fraud, a federal prosecutor said. Edward R. Showalter, 54, had operated High Park Investment Group Inc. in Gardena and Harbor Financial Investment Group Inc. in Huntington Beach, which were shut at the request of the Securities and Exchange Commission in November. He is due to be arraigned Aug. 7 in federal court in Santa Ana, Assistant U.S. Atty.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
June 17, 1987 | JANE APPLEGATE, Times Staff Writer
LOS ANGELES-A federal judge has sentenced a Laguna Niguel real estate broker to two years in prison for his role in a complex $21-million real estate fraud. John (Skip) Chodak, 44, previously pleaded guilty to six counts of wire fraud and one count of interstate transportation of funds obtained by fraud for his role in swindling 21 small savings and loan associations out of about $21 million.
BUSINESS
December 21, 1996 | MYRON LEVIN, TIMES STAFF WRITER
Kevin S. Merritt, a defendant in a high-profile Los Angeles real estate fraud case, has dropped from sight, and authorities have issued a warrant for his arrest on $1-million bail after he failed to show up at a pretrial hearing. Separately, a task force of U.S. and local arson investigators is seeking to question Merritt about a string of arson fires in rundown buildings owned by a business firm that Merritt worked for, law enforcement officials have told The Times.
BUSINESS
December 5, 2005 | David Streitfeld, Times Staff Writer
Real estate fraud is surging, fueled by a booming housing market, feverish refinancing activity and lax regulation, authorities say. In the last two years, according to the FBI, reports of mortgage fraud nationally have tripled to 21,994, while the dollar value of the alleged crimes quadrupled to $1.01 billion. The dramatic run-up in the housing market during the last four years was a boom with few equals.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 12, 2005 | Catherine Saillant, Times Staff Writer
A Ventura County prosecution team created Tuesday will go after real estate agents, brokers and appraisers who use predatory schemes to take advantage of unsuspecting home sellers and buyers. As outlined by Dist. Atty. Gregory Totten, the unit will investigate complaints of shady real estate practices and prosecute those accused of breaking the law. Following a public hearing, the Board of Supervisors approved creation of the unit on a 4-0 vote, with Supervisor John Flynn absent.
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