Winston Lum, 45, San Francisco, California, was charged with 16 felony counts related to his alleged fraudulent transfer of a woman’s three condominiums in a San Francisco, California to himself.
Lum is charged with 2 counts of grand theft (Penal Code section 487(a)), one count of identity theft (Penal Code section 530.5(a)), six counts of procuring or offering false or forged instruments for record (Penal Code section 115(a), 6 counts of filing of false or forged documents related to single-family residences (Penal Code section 115.5(a)) and one count of attempted grand theft (Penal Code section 664/487(a)), all felonies.
According to court documents, in January 2009, the defendant had recorded with the San Francisco Assessor’s Office three forged grant deeds to real property located at the One Rincon Hill, San Francisco, California worth approximately $7.5 million that fraudulently transferred titles to himself. The defendant was then able to successfully take out $2.2 million in loans against those properties.
The true owner of the properties did not know the defendant and was not aware that her properties had been transferred, but became suspicious when she began receiving mail for the defendant at her address. The victim soon discovered that her properties had been fraudulently conveyed to the defendant and she reported the theft to the San Francisco Police Department.
Inspector Greg Ovanessian of the San Francisco Police Department Economic Crimes Bureau received the case for investigation in March 2009. Due to the complexity of the case, Inspector Robert Steger was assigned to assist Inspector Ovanessian. Their investigation confirmed that the properties were illegally transferred to the defendant and that soon thereafter, the defendant took out sizable loans against each of the properties.
A $7.5 million DA warrant was issued for the defendant on February 3, 2010. The defendant was arrested on the warrant February 4, 2010, at his mother’s home.
Lum was scheduled to be arraigned in Department 11 of the San Francisco Superior Court. The arraignment was continued to February 9, 2010, in Department 11 at the request of the defendant. Bail remains at $7.5 million.
“The defendant’s scheme to forge documents and claim legal ownership of the victim’s properties is an act of hubris difficult to fathom,” said District Attorney Kamala D. Harris. “The San Francisco Police Department’s Economic Crimes Bureau should be commended for its fine work in building this case and putting an end to this fraud.”
Lieutenant Jones Wong, Officer-In-Charge of the SFPD Economic Crime Unit stated that “the arrest of Winston Lum is the result of a detailed and exhaustive investigation by Inspectors Greg Ovanessian and Robert Steger of an elaborate and complex scheme to defraud a San Francisco citizen of her property.”
Assistant District Attorney Alan Kennedy is prosecuting the case.