Archives For Ponzi Scheme

Frank Enrique Lleras, 30, Charlotte, North Carolina, the co-founder of a Charlotte-area property investment firm, pleaded guilty to securities fraud and wire fraud, in connection with an investment fraud scheme involving real estate properties.

According to filed court documents and the plea hearing, Lleras was the co-founder, executive vice president and chief investment officer of Optimum Property Investments, LLC (Optimum), an investment company headquartered in Charlotte with purported offices in Miami, Florida, Santiago, Dominican Republic and Barranquilla, Colombia. Lleras admitted in court that from about December 2012 and through 2015, he executed an investment fraud scheme through Optimum, which defrauded at least 20 victims of nearly $3,000,000. According to court records, Lleras induced his victim investors by promoting Optimum as a real estate investment company that made money by purchasing distressed and/or foreclosed real estate properties in Mecklenburg County and elsewhere, and then reselling and and/or leasing those properties. Continue Reading…

Thomas Franklin Tarbutton, 56, Newport Beach, California, a hard money lender, was convicted by a jury of embezzling over $3 million from investors in a Ponzi real estate-mortgage investment fraud scheme.

Between 2004 and 2010, Tarbutton operated Villa Capital Inc. as a “hard money” lender who solicited money from private investors for borrowers looking for funds from non-bank lenders. The defendant defrauded eleven people in a Ponzi real estate mortgage investment fraud scheme. Continue Reading…

Diane Cobb, 58, Ada, Ohio, was sentenced to 41 months in prison  for her role in a Ponzi scheme.  The sentencing follows a guilty plea in which Cobb admitted to running a fraudulent scheme with co-defendant Paul Sloane Davis through which they profited by more than a million dollars.

Cobb was charged by indictment on October 31, 2013, for her part in the scheme.  According to the indictment, Davis and Cobb operated a financial services company in Marin County known as DM Financial.  Davis and Cobb, through DM Financial, allegely offered investors the opportunity to fund purported “bridge loans” to borrowers who, according to Davis and Cobb, needed short-term financing for residential real estate transactions.  Cobb was charged with providing investors with, among other things, the identity of the purported borrower, a promissory note reflecting the amount and terms of the loan, and a deed of trust securing the loan to the borrower’s real property.  Based upon these documents and other representations made by Davis and Cobb, the investors believed the defendants were directing the funds into secured loans with borrowers.  Continue Reading…

James Hurst Miller Jr., 67, Paso Robles, California, the former president of the Atascadero-based Hurst Financial Corporation, to 84 months in federal prison for misappropriating millions of dollars that victims invested in Central Coast real estate projects and for helping a real estate developer defraud a bank.

Miller’s case is related to that of Kelly Gearhart, a former Central Coast real estate developer, who was sentenced in July to 14 years in federal prison. Continue Reading…

Paul Sloane Davis, 76, Santa Rosa, California, was sentenced to 36 months in prison and ordered to pay $1.7 million in restitution, for a Ponzi scheme he perpetrated along with co-defendant Diane Cobb, 58, currently a resident of the State of Ohio.  The sentencing follows a guilty plea in which Davis admitted to running a fraudulent scheme.  Court documents establish that Davis and Cobb profited by more than a million dollars.

Davis was charged by indictment on October 31, 2013, for his part in the scheme.  According to the indictment, Davis and Cobb operated a financial services company in Marin County known as DM Financial.  Through DM Financial, Davis and Cobb offered investors the opportunity to fund purported short-term “bridge loans” to borrowers who, according to Davis and Cobb, needed short-term financing for residential real estate transactions.  The defendants fraudulently provided to these investors, among other things, the identity of the purported borrower, a promissory note reflecting the amount and terms of the loan, and a deed of trust securing the loan to the borrower’s real property.  Based upon these documents and other representations made by Davis and Cobb, the investors believed the defendants were directing the funds into secured loans with borrowers. Continue Reading…

Charles Wooden, 48, Stone Mountain, Georgia, was sentenced to seven years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release, and to pay restitution of $2.4 million. Hendrickx H. Toussaint, 44, a now disbarred lawyer, Decatur, Georgia, was sentenced to three years, ten months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release, and to pay restitution of $1.2 million.  The sentenced arise out of a real estate-based Ponzi scheme that took in almost $5 million dollars from out-of-state and foreign investors.

According to U.S. Attorney John Horn, the charges, and other information presented in court: In or about 2009, Charles Wooden, doing business as Aeon Capital Management, LLC, held himself out to the public as a real estate broker who could locate and oversee the purchase of residential properties and apartment buildings for or on behalf of real estate investors.  Wooden purported to find properties that could be flipped in a short period for a profit, and also properties that he would manage for the investors.  Continue Reading…

A father and son schemed with a Chicago attorney and a Lincolnwood businessman to sell $2.9 million in phony mortgages to more than a dozen duped investors, according to a federal indictment.

Albert Rossini, 67, the owner of Devon Street Investments Ltd., Lincolnwood, Illinois plotted with Babajan Khoshabe, 74, Chicago, Illinois, and Khoshabe’s son, Anthony Khoshabe, 33, Skokie, Illinois, to fraudulently induce at least 15 victims into purchasing purported mortgage notes on apartment buildings in foreclosure, according to the indictment. The trio promised that investors would receive rental income from occupants of the buildings, followed by title to the properties at the conclusion of the foreclosure process, the indictment states. In reality, it was a ponzi scheme.  the trio did not own the mortgage notes, and instead used the victims’ funds to make Ponzi-type payments to other investors and pocket the rest, according to the indictment. Continue Reading…

William Donnelly Yotty, 69, who currently resides in Monarch Beach, California but during the course of the scheme lived in Lodi, California, pleaded guilty to the federal mail fraud and wire fraud charges for operating a Ponzi scheme that featured false promises of large returns to victims who invested in debt obligations and distressed real estate.

In a plea agreement filed in United States District Court, Yotty admitted that he ran several Lodi-based companies that offered bogus investments in corporate debt obligations and in distressed real estate that he and his salespeople said could be “flipped” for substantial profit. Continue Reading…

Michael J. Stewart, 68, San Clemente, California, the CEO of a now-defunct Southern California real estate investment firm, was found guilty of 11 counts of mail fraud following a nine-day jury trial before United States District Judge Cormac J. Carney.  The charges arose out of a real estate scheme that ended with the bankruptcy of the company and hundreds of investors collectively losing as much as $169 million.

Stewart owned and was the chief executive of Pacific Property Assets (PPA), which had offices in Long Beach and Irvine, California. Along with co-defendant John Packard, Stewart created PPA in 1999 to purchase, renovate, operate, and resell or refinance apartment complexes in Southern California and Arizona. Typically, PPA financed property acquisitions through mortgages, and it raised money from private investors to pay for renovations to the properties. After several years, PPA would refinance (or sometimes sell) each property. Continue Reading…

Trial Continues in Case Against Real Estate Firm Co-Owner Accused of Ponzi Scheme

The trial of a Phoenix man accused of setting up a real estate Ponzi scheme during the Great Recession continued in Santa Ana on Tuesday.

According to federal prosecutors who spoke with jurors at court, Michael J. Stewart—a co-owner of a real estate firm based in Irvine and Long Beach—set up the Ponzi scheme to pay off old investors while continuing to recruit new ones for a plan to flip distressed apartment buildings during the Great Recession’s housing collapse.

Stewart’s attorney told jurors that in fact his client was innocent and thought his plan was financially prudent because homeowners who lost their property in foreclosure would need to rent apartments.