Real estate ownership and management can be complicated, particularly for elderly Americans. California has several laws in place that specifically protect the elderly in property transactions in order to prevent unscrupulous parties from taking advantage by means of fraud or undue influence. A recent criminal fraud case out of Los Angeles illustrates how a deceitful real estate expert can scam millions out of unwitting property owners. Learn more about the fraud scheme and the case below, and contact a knowledgeable San Diego real estate attorney with questions about a real estate transaction of your own.
Woman charged in third real estate fraud scheme along with two others
Three Californians were recently charged with multiple felony counts for allegedly creating fraudulent deeds in 2015 and 2016. The defendants allegedly used the fake deeds to illegally take out a loan against a Los Angeles home and then later sell the home. The charges for all three defendants include being accused of stealing more than $100,000 through fraud and embezzlement and having prior felony convictions.
One of the defendants, a 58-year-old former West Hills lawyer, was already the subject of criminal charges for a previous fraud scheme. Last year, she was charged with 72 felony counts, including grand theft, identity theft, forgery, and money laundering. The alleged scheme involved using her legal expertise to befriend elderly victims in order to get her name placed on their property titles, targeting four different properties throughout Los Angeles. She would then obtain loans secured by the targeted properties or sell the loans to innocent purchasers and then keep the proceeds to herself. She allegedly stole upwards of $2 million from more than two dozen victims, including property owners, investment companies, estates, and notaries between June 2014 and January 2017.
Police allege that she also targeted properties where the owner was already deceased; in at least one instance, she was able to get her name put on the title and then rent out several units of the property, keeping the proceeds for herself rather than giving the funds to the estate of the deceased.
The former West Hills lawyer also allegedly created false deeds for two other residential properties in Los Angeles in 2015 and then in 2018 illegally signed deeds of trust on the homes as collateral for her bail in the previous fraud case, resulting in another $400,000 in losses.
The West Hills woman faces up to 41 years in state prison if she is convicted as charged. Her two co-defendants, a 68-year-old Los Angeles woman and a 45-year-old Los Angeles man, are each charged with 54 felony counts and face a maximum sentence of 35 years and 8 months in prison if convicted. All three defendants pleaded not guilty to the crimes currently charged.
Get Professional Legal Help with any San Diego Real Estate Investment
If you’re a real estate investor facing a legal issue in California, get help from seasoned and professional legal counsel by contacting San Diego real estate attorney Jon Alan Enochs at 619-421-3956.