Atiqullah Nabizada, 29, Coto de Caza, California, Kenneth Moore, 49, Tustin, California, and Ahmed Tariq Asghari, 32, Sherman Oaks, California, have been arrested and charged with allegedly defrauding homeowners, financial institutions, and real estate investors in schemes that targeted the distressed homeowner market and allegedly caused more than $10 million in losses.
A federal grand jury in Los Angeles returned two indictments on June 1, 2012, that charge three defendants with fraud violations and identity theft in connection with a variety of schemes utilizing real or purported short sale real estate transactions and home loans.
According to court documents, the defendants used a variety of schemes, at least two of which centered on fraudulent short sale approval letters purportedly issued by a bank. Many of the properties utilized in the schemes were distressed homes. In some cases, the defendants claimed to have insiders working at the bank who, in exchange for cash, would authorize short sales for far less than the fair market value. This allowed the defendants to “flip” the house for a significant profit.
In some cases, the defendants used short sale approval letters that had been entirely fabricated to carry out their schemes. As a result, home-buyers and investors purchased homes they thought had a clear title but were actually devalued and subject to hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of liens. In some instances, individuals would assume the identities of property owners and then sell or refinance the relevant properties without authority. In one case, a home owned by individuals who reside in Saudi Arabia was transferred multiple times and resulted in more than $1 million in losses.
Court documents detail the fact that many co-conspirators knowingly played roles in the schemes, including escrow officers and others who would fabricate and/or conceal documents to further the frauds. In addition, identities of innocent parties were stolen to conceal the involvement of individuals carrying out the scheme, according to court papers. Investigators believe the defendants may have victimized others, and anyone with information is urged to contact investigators. In Los Angeles, the FBI can be reached 24 hours a day at 888 226-8443.
Nabizada and Moore were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. If convicted of all charges, Nabizada and Moore face a statutory maximum penalty of 22 years in prison. Asghari is charged with attempted bank fraud, aggravated identity theft, and causing an act to be done. If convicted, Asghari faces a statutory maximum penalty of 32 years in prison.
Nabizada and Moore were arrested at their places of residence and had an initial appearance in federal court. Moore was denied bail and remains in federal custody. Nabizada has not yet had his detention hearing. Asqhari was arrested in Miami Beach and will have an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Miami.
Federal search warrants were also executed at residential and business locations in Los Angeles and Orange Counties to seek evidence related to the fraud allegations. Investigators estimate losses to be in excess of $10 million. During the service of the warrants, agents seized items alleged to be proceeds of the fraudulent schemes, including more than $1.7 million held in bank accounts and $548,937 in cash. Luxury vehicles that were either seized or impounded include two Bentleys and a Mercedes. Various jewels were also seized, including diamond encrusted watches.
AndrÃ© Birotte Jr., the United States Attorney in Los Angeles; Steven Martinez, FBI Assistant Director in Charge in Los Angeles; and Joseph Beaty, Special Agent In Charge of the United States Secret Service in Los Angeles, announced the charges.
This case is being investigated by the FBI and the United States Secret Service. Considerable assistance was provided by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the Department of Motor Vehicles, and multiple police departments. The Miami Beach Police Department assisted during today’s arrest operation. Investigators with various financial institutions also provided assistance.
This case is being prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.
An indictment merely contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at trial.