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December 21, 2012

Seal Beach Woman Indicted in $2 Million Real Estate Scam

Filed under: Federal Crimes Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 4:21 pm

Defendant Previously Convicted of Posing as FBI Agent to Call Victims

SANTA ANA, California – A federal grand jury today indicted a Seal Beach woman on mail fraud charges for allegedly running an investment scam that falsely promised ownership in commercial real estate and cost victims more than $2 million.

Karen Hanover, 46, was named in a two-count indictment returned this afternoon by a federal grand jury. The indictment alleges that Hanover operated the scheme out of two Long Beach-based companies – Commercial Investment Education, LLC and Kharmic Life Strategies, Inc. – and pitched victim-investors at seminars in Southern California, Dallas, and Las Vegas, Nevada.

According to the indictment, Hanover falsely promised victims a “fastrack” to owning commercial real estate. If the investors paid between $19,000 and $29,997, Hanover would become their “equity partner” and guarantee ownership in commercial real estate. The indictment alleges that Hanover further guaranteed that investors would “get into a deal” regardless of credit history or financial status, and that they would realize annual returns of 100 percent and would be protected with a money-back guarantee.

However, according to the indictment, after receiving the victims’ money,  Hanover gave them a “fastrack” agreement in which she negated virtually every promise, including the promise that she would refund money if asked.

As a result of the scheme, Hanover caused more than 50 investors to lose more than $2 million, the indictment alleges.

An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in court.

Hanover will be summoned to appear for an arraignment in United States District Court on January 2, 2013.

If she is convicted, Hanover would face a statutory maximum sentence of 60 years in federal prison.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Previously in this investigation, Hanover was found guilty in October 2011 of impersonating an FBI agent to contact victims of the alleged real estate fraud scheme. She was sentenced to six months in prison and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine.

Seal Beach Woman Indicted in $2 Million Real Estate Scam

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 8:09 am

Defendant Previously Convicted of Posing as FBI Agent to Call Victims

SANTA ANA, California – A federal grand jury today indicted a Seal Beach woman on mail fraud charges for allegedly running an investment scam that falsely promised ownership in commercial real estate and cost victims more than $2 million.

Karen Hanover, 46, was named in a two-count indictment returned this afternoon by a federal grand jury. The indictment alleges that Hanover operated the scheme out of two Long Beach-based companies – Commercial Investment Education, LLC and Kharmic Life Strategies, Inc. – and pitched victim-investors at seminars in Southern California, Dallas, and Las Vegas, Nevada.

According to the indictment, Hanover falsely promised victims a “fastrack” to owning commercial real estate. If the investors paid between $19,000 and $29,997, Hanover would become their “equity partner” and guarantee ownership in commercial real estate. The indictment alleges that Hanover further guaranteed that investors would “get into a deal” regardless of credit history or financial status, and that they would realize annual returns of 100 percent and would be protected with a money-back guarantee.

However, according to the indictment, after receiving the victims’ money,  Hanover gave them a “fastrack” agreement in which she negated virtually every promise, including the promise that she would refund money if asked.

As a result of the scheme, Hanover caused more than 50 investors to lose more than $2 million, the indictment alleges.

An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in court.
Hanover will be summoned to appear for an arraignment in United States District Court on January 2, 2013.

If she is convicted, Hanover would face a statutory maximum sentence of 60 years in federal prison.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Previously in this investigation, Hanover was found guilty in October 2011 of impersonating an FBI agent to contact victims of the alleged real estate fraud scheme. She was sentenced to six months in prison and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine.

November 16, 2012

Former Law Firm Partner Convicted of Obstructing SEC Investigation

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 3:45 pm

LOS ANGELES – A federal district judge today convicted a former partner of Nixon Peabody LLP for obstructing a Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) investigation into whether one of the law firm’s former clients was running a Ponzi scheme.

Following a two-week bench trial, attorney David Tamman, 45, of Santa Monica, was convicted on all ten counts on which he was tried: one count of conspiring to obstruct justice, five counts of altering documents, one count of being an accessory after the fact to co-defendant John Farahi’s mail and securities fraud crimes, and three counts of aiding and abetting Farahi’s false testimony before the SEC.

“A case like this reveals the lengths to which those committing frauds will go to conceal their criminal deeds,” said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr., whose office prosecuted the case.  “It also demonstrates that we will go to equal lengths to overcome these efforts at concealment and cast a bright light on fraudulent schemes that threaten investors and others in today’s difficult financial environment.”

The evidence at trial showed that immediately after the SEC made a surprise inspection of Farahi’s business, Tamman met with Farahi and began altering and backdating documents to make it appear that Farahi had been disclosing to investors that Farahi was himself taking the majority of investors’ funds. Those altered documents were later produced to the SEC and falsely represented by Farahi to be the actual documents that had earlier been given to investors.  The evidence at trial also showed that Tamman created and backdated promissory notes and supplemental disclosure documents and lied to his partners and co-counsel about the creation and alteration of documents that the SEC was seeking.

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November 9, 2012

Ventura County Insurance Broker Arrested on Federal Charges Alleging He Bilked Clients, Including Celebrities, out of $800,000

Filed under: Los Angeles Criminal attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 6:23 am

LOS ANGELES – Federal authorities this morning arrested a Thousand Oaks man on federal mail fraud charges that allege he overbilled clients hundreds of thousands of dollars for insurance policies.

Jerry B. Goldman, 59, was arrested without incident this morning at his residence. He is expected to be arraigned on a 10-count indictment this afternoon in United States District Court in Los Angeles.

The indictment alleges that Goldman used his Newbury Park insurance agency to obtain various insurance products for clients, some of whom were overbilled by as much as 600 percent. The indictment lists four victims, including Tom Hanks and Andy Summers.

According to the indictment, Goldman negotiated premiums for insurance coverage on behalf of his clients, and he was paid commissions by the insurance provider on each policy. Goldman allegedly created fraudulent invoices on his company’s letterhead that inflated the premiums due by as much as 600 percent. From 1998 through August 2011, Goldman received overpayments of more than $800,000, the indictment alleges.

An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.

Each of the 10 counts of mail fraud alleged in the indictment carry a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.

November 3, 2012

Woman Who Organized $20 Million Mortgage Fraud Scheme in Southern California Pleads Guilty in Oregon Federal Court

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 10:27 am

A former Southern California resident pleaded guilty today in federal court in Portland, Oregon to mail fraud charges for orchestrating a mortgage fraud scheme that used fraudulent loan applications and supporting documents to convince lenders to fund more than $20 million in loans on approximately three dozen properties in Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.

Wanda Coleman, 59, a former resident of Pauma Valley who now lives in Glenoma, Washington, pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud pursuant to a plea agreement filed under seal in United States District Court in Portland. As a result of today’s guilty plea, Coleman faces a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison when she is sentenced on January 25, 2013 by United States District Judge Michael H. Simon.

The case against Coleman was brought by the United States Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California following an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case was transferred to the District of Oregon, which is near Coleman’s new residence, for the entry of the guilty plea and sentencing.

According to court documents, Coleman and several co-conspirators fraudulently obtained funds from financial institutions by making false statements on, and omitting material information from, loan applications submitted to purchase houses in the names of “straw buyers.” Coleman identified properties for sale across Southern California and offered to pay the sellers substantially more than their asking price, in return for the sellers’ agreement to refund the excess amount to Coleman or companies that she controlled. Coleman recruited straw buyers to submit fraudulent applications for loans to buy the houses. Various participants in the scheme prepared fraudulent mortgage applications that contained false information regarding the buyers’ employment, income and assets, and then submitted the bogus applications to lenders. To corroborate the false claims, co-conspirators forged bank statements and prepared other fraudulent documents, which were submitted to lenders.

As a result of the scheme, financial institutions funded loans totaling more than $20 million in relation to approximately 30 properties across Southern California. The straw buyers ultimately defaulted on the loans, resulting in foreclosure of the properties and losses of more than $11 million to the lenders.

October 12, 2012

Insurance Sales Associate Charged with $4 Million Disability Insurance Scheme

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 3:25 pm

SANTA ANA, California – A former sales associate with the American Family Life Assurance Company, or AFLAC, was arrested today on mail fraud charges involving the defrauding of $4 million in disability benefits from AFLAC in a fictitious employer scheme.   This indictment was part of a crackdown in the last year on fictitious employer schemes that deplete federal, state, and private unemployment and disability insurance program resources, at a time when such resources are most needed.

Fictitious employer schemes target federal, state, and private unemployment and disability insurance programs, which provide benefits to workers who are out of work through no fault of their own or suffer non-work related injuries and are unable to work.  In a fictitious employer scheme, co-schemers register fictitious businesses, that do not do any business and have no real employees.  After registering the fictitious businesses, co-schemers file claims as fictitious employees of the fictitious businesses who lost their jobs or are injured, and collect a stream of unemployment and/or disability insurance benefit checks, which are sent by mail.

Patricia Diane Smith Sledge, 56, of Irvine, was charged by a federal grand jury with four counts of mail fraud for her part in a scheme to submit fraudulent disability insurance claims to AFLAC for fictitious businesses with fictitious injured employees.  According to the indictment, Sledge was a sales associate at AFLAC who sold disability policies to co-schemers with fake businesses and solicited fake employees for such businesses, including Litetouch Investments and Blue Diamond Services.  Soon after obtaining the policies, the fictitious employees claimed fake injuries and AFLAC sent disability benefit checks by mail to the claimants.  Sledge allegedly received a portion of the illegally obtained proceeds from the claimants.  AFLAC terminated Sledge in October 2011 after conducting its own internal investigation.

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September 25, 2012

Owner of a Pasadena Mortgage Company Sentenced to Nine Years in Federal Prison in $30 Million Mortgage Fraud Scheme

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 4:58 pm

SANTA ANA, California – The owner of a Pasadena mortgage brokerage firm was sentenced today to 108 months in federal prison for participating in a mortgage fraud scheme that obtained more than $30 million in loans.
Eduardo Ruiz, 33, of Santa Ana, was sentenced this morning by United States District Judge David O. Carter. In addition to the prison term, Judge Carter ordered him to pay $5.7 million restitution.

Ruiz has been in custody since March, when a federal jury found him guilty of conspiracy and mail fraud related to his operation of Premier One Lending, a mortgage brokerage firm. The evidence presented during a three-day trial showed that while operating Premier One Lending in 2005 and 2006 , Ruiz and other Premier One employees fraudulently obtained more than 100 loans from lenders in Los Angeles and Orange counties.

As part of the scheme, Ruiz and his employees prepared mortgage loan applications that inflated borrowers’ income – often by as much as 10 times the their true income. Ruiz and other Premier One employees also obtained phony bank statements and CPA letters, which they provided to the lenders in support of the bogus income figures.

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September 4, 2012

Man Who Targeted Distressed Homeowners with ‘Mortgage- Elimination’ Scam Agrees to Plead Guilty to Federal Fraud Charge

Filed under: Federal Crimes Defense Attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 8:56 pm

LOS ANGELES – A South El Monte man has agreed to plead guilty to a federal mail fraud charge in a scheme that falsely promised to eliminate mortgage debts for approximately 200 distressed homeowners who each paid a $15,000 fee. Instead of working on behalf of the homeowners, the man simply sent worthless “Sovereign Citizen” paperwork to lenders – paperwork that did nothing to affect the mortgage of a single homeowner.

In a plea agreement filed Tuesday in United States District Court in Los Angeles, Ernesto Diaz, 57, who formerly worked as a realtor, agreed to plead guilty to one count of mail fraud. As part of the agreement, Diaz has agreed to cooperate in an ongoing investigation into against his company, Crown Point Education Inc., which had offices in Montebello and El Monte.

Diaz joined the Crown Point scheme in March 2010 after the company had been in business for approximately one year. Diaz spoke at seminars to recruit distressed homeowners and to train salespersons in the Crown Point program.  In his plea agreement, Diaz admitted that he and others promised distressed homeowners at these seminars that, in exchange for fees that were generally $15,000 per property, Crown Point would eliminate the homeowners’ mortgages within six to eight months through a secret process that involved sending packets of documents to lenders. Even though he told victims that he could eliminate their mortgage woes, Diaz admitted in his plea agreement that the process had never been successful. Diaz failed to tell distressed homeowners that earlier Crown Point clients – including Diaz’s own brother – had lost their houses to foreclosure and been evicted from their houses.

In the plea agreement, Diaz admitted that another person affiliated with Crown Point filed bankruptcy documents in the names of Crown Point clients to delay foreclosure and eviction. Diaz acknowledged that Crown Point filed many bankruptcy documents without the knowledge of the company’s clients and that signatures of debtors and notaries were forged on many documents filed with the Bankruptcy Court.

In his plea agreement, Diaz admits that approximately 200 homeowner-victims paid Crown Point nearly $2.5 million for help they did not receive.

The claims made to distressed homeowners were based on discredited “Sovereign Citizen” claims that mortgages are invalid because the banks did not actually lend the money used to fund mortgages and the notes were securitized.

Diaz has agreed to make his initial court appearance before a United States Magistrate Judge on September 13.

The charge of mail fraud carries a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in federal prison.

The case against Diaz is part of an ongoing investigation being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

August 9, 2012

Seal Beach Man Agrees to Pay $5 Million to Resolve Allegations of Defrauding Distressed Homeowners, Renters and Lenders

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 6:50 pm

RIVERSIDE, California – A federal judge has ordered a Seal Beach man to pay $5 million in civil penalties in connection with allegations of a massive fraud targeting homeowners, renters and lenders.

Terrill “Terry” Meisinger agreed to the $5 million penalty as part of a settlement agreement to resolve a lawsuit filed by the United States Attorney’s Office in June 2011. United States District Judge Virginia A. Phillips on Tuesday signed an order concluding the case against Terry Meisinger and prohibiting him from participating in the home finance or real estate industries for a period of 10 years.

In the civil lawsuit, federal authorities accused Meisinger of orchestrating a foreclosure rescue scheme that bilked both homeowners and lenders. The scheme resulted in significant losses to federally insured financial institutions and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The lawsuit was based on an investigation conducted by special agents and auditors from the HUD Office of the Inspector General (HUD-OIG). The complaint alleged that Meisinger’s scheme involved mail fraud, bank fraud and false statements affecting a financial institution, which violated the federal Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act (FIRREA).

The complaint alleged that Meisinger contacted individuals who were facing imminent foreclosure and promised that he could help them avoid foreclosure and save their credit. Meisinger allegedly told distressed homeowners that if they deeded their houses to him and immediately moved out, they would receive a small cash payment, typically from $500 to $1,000, with the promise that Meisinger would bring their mortgage payments current and pay them an additional $5,000 to $10,000 when he eventually sold their properties.

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April 13, 2012

Orange County Man Pleads Guilty to Ponzi-style Investment Fraud Scheme

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 2:36 am

LOS ANGELES – An Orange County man pleaded guilty today in federal court to conducting a Ponzi-style investment fraud scheme that caused approximately 28 victims to suffer a total loss of approximately $2.7 million.

Timothy Melvin Murphy, 70, of Orange, pled guilty to a single count of mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341.  Murphy is a retired Colonel in the California Army National Guard who previously served as the Commanding Officer of the Guard’s base in Los Alamitos, California.

At his change of plea hearing, Murphy admitted that he devised and executed a scheme to obtain money from certain of his clients by means of material false promises.   Murphy admitted that he executed the scheme through his business, Capital Investors, Inc., which he operated out of Orange, California.

Murphy admitted that, in furtherance of his scheme, he offered fraudulent investment opportunities to certain of his clients, and that he created and used a variety of false documents to execute the scheme.  The investigation revealed that, in presenting the bogus investment opportunities, Murphy falsely represented that certain clients’ funds would be invested as promised and would generate substantial rates of return, which, in some cases, he falsely portrayed as “guaranteed” rates of return.  Murphy created false account statements to mislead his clients into thinking that their money was properly invested and generating the promised income.  In fact, as he admitted today, Murphy did not use the clients’ investment funds as he promised he would, and the government estimates that Murphy’s victims suffered losses in the amount of approximately $2.7 million.

The charge of mail fraud carries a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison; a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or gross loss resulting from the offense, whichever is greatest; and 3 years supervised release.  In addition, Murphy will be required to pay restitution to the victims of his fraud scheme.

Murphy is expected to be sentenced in this case on June 25, 2012 before United States District Court Judge David O. Carter.

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