Archives For forged deeds

Mazen Alzoubi, real estate investor, 32, Rancho Cucamonga, California, pled guilty to conspiracy, mail fraud and identity theft, admitting that he orchestrated a scheme to steal title to Southern California homes and then sell the properties to unsuspecting buyers before the true owners could put a stop to the sale.

Alzoubi admitted that from May 2012 through August 2014, he and several co-conspirators fraudulently sold or attempted to sell at least 15 homes worth more than $3.6 million. On at least ten occasions, Alzoubi admitted, he was successful—earning illicit proceeds of nearly $2.2 million, which he then laundered and diverted to overseas bank accounts to ensure that the fraudulently-obtained proceeds could never be recovered. Continue Reading…

Ray M. Mubarak, 56, Knoxville, Tennessee, was sentenced to serve 57 months in prison for conducting a scheme to defraud financial institutions and engaging in an unlawful monetary transaction with fraudulently-obtained loan proceeds.  He was also ordered to pay $1,993,938.44 in restitution to three banks and a title insurance company that lost money as a result of the scheme.

Mubarak pleaded guilty in May 2015 to federal charges stemming from his scheme to defraud multiple banks into loaning him over $6 million. He submitted false tax returns and personal financial statements which grossly inflated his income and net worth in order to qualify for the loans. Mubarak also admitted to defrauding the banks by causing them to rely on a fraudulent title opinion letter and forged loan closing documents and deeds.

The trial for Mubarak’s co-defendants, Dianna Mubarak and Blythe Bond Sanders, III, is scheduled for March 1, 2016.

Marbarak was sentenced by the Honorable Pamela L. Reeves, U.S. District Judge.  The investigation was conducted by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation and Federal Bureau of Investigation.  The investigation and prosecution of Mubarak was coordinated with the Office of the District Attorney General, 6th Judicial District.  Matthew T. Morris, Assistant U.S. Attorney, represented the United States.

John Michael DiChiara, 57, Nevada City, California; James C. Castle, 51, formerly of Santa Rosa, California; Remus A. Kirkpatrick, 58, formerly of Oceanside, California; George B. Larsen, 54, formerly of San Rafael, California; Laura Pezzi, 59, Roseville, California; Larry Todt, 63, formerly of Malibu, California; and Michael Romano, 68, Benicia, California, were charged by a federal grand jury in a 42-count indictment, with conspiracy, bank fraud, false making of documents, and money laundering in connection with a mortgage elimination scheme. Tisha Trites, 49, San Diego, California and Todd Smith, 44, San Diego, California, pleaded guilty to related charges before U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. on September 4, 2015.

DiChiara was arrested in Cool, California. Pezzi and Romano were arrested at their homes. The other four defendants listed in the indictment have yet to be arrested. Continue Reading…

Authorities in Lansing, Michigan recently advised home buyers to beware of a Craig’s List home selling scam where scam artists meet potential home buyers at a home they do not actually own and take payments from the buyer.  This scam is operating across the country and is not limited to properties in Lansing Michigan.  (It is also being perpetrated against potential renters who are “rented” homes that are not owned by the scammers.)

In the Craig’s List scams, a home buyer can generally protect themselves by depositing the earnest money with their own real estate agent or with an escrow company rather than handing money over to the scammers.  The fact that the scammers don’t actually own the property will be discovered during the title search that is conducted while the sales transaction is pending.

This is not the only scam that involves fake sales.  In another common scam, fake sellers actually forge quit claim deeds and ‘transfer’ the property to themselves.  Sometimes these scammers also rent the property from the real owners so that they can ‘show’ the property to potential buyers.

Looking at current ownership in these fake sales transactions may not be enough.  Home buyers and real estate professionals also need to look at the last transactions recorded against title to the property.  If the property has recently transferred by way of quit clam deed, a little more due diligence may be in order before handing over the earnest money deposit or purchasing the property. It is as easy as contacting the “prior” record title holder – who may not even be aware that their property has been transferred.  Quit claim transfers are not always fraudulent.  And fake transfer can be done by way of regular grant deeds.  We just see more fake transfers by quit claim.

In the Craig’s List scam, the fake sellers walk away with the earnest money deposit or down payment.  In a fake sales transaction, if it is not detected by the title company, the scammers walk away with the entire purchase price.

If a homeowner falls for one of these fake sales transactions and purchases a property that doesn’t actually belong to the seller and was transferred by way of a forged deed, the new homeowner’s only real recourse will be their title insurance policy.