Eric Lamonte Smith, 38, Upland, California, has been arrested and charged with real estate fraud, identity theft, forgery, and preparing fraudulent credit applications. The defendant was arraigned in San Bernardino Superior Court. He pleaded not guilty to all counts.
The investigation began after investigators received a fraud complaint from a Notary Public who alleged that her signature and seal had been forged on a Grant Deed. As a result, investigators opened a criminal investigation which eventually revealed that Smith had been part of a suspected real estate fraud ring operating in San Bernardino, San Diego and Los Angeles counties, California, since 2006.
The suspects allegedly filed fraudulent Grant Deeds on properties that were in the process of being foreclosed, causing the process to be delayed. The suspects would then rent the property to unsuspecting renters. The suspects would also fraudulently obtain Home Equity Lines of credit on the properties, as well as use false information on credit applications to purchase luxury automobiles.
Smith was booked at West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga, California. A Preliminary Hearing is scheduled for May 2 in Department 22 of the San Bernardino Superior Court. This case is being prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Vance Welch. If convicted on all counts, Smith faces 11 years in state prison.
Investigators with the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office made the arrest.