Archives For Arizona

Alysia Franco, formerly known as Martha Orozco, pleaded guilty to participating in a real estate wire fraud scheme.

In September 2015, a Tucson resident contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Phoenix Field Division’s Tucson Resident Agency to report the theft of closing funds during a real estate transaction. The victim had wired $189,500 in closing funds to a bank account in the name of SkySea Logistics Services after receiving an email indicating the bank account information for the closing had changed.  The victim, believing the email was from a party to the real estate transaction, wired the funds as instructed in the email. However, SkySea Logistics Services was a front business controlled by Franco and was not a legitimate party to the real estate transaction. Franco provided SkySea Logistics Service’s business and account information to others for use in receiving the proceeds of criminal activity between September 2013 and September 2015.

During the investigation, the FBI discovered another Tucson victim who transferred closing funds to the same SkySea Logistics Services’ account. The funds wired by both victims totaled $391,500.

Attorney General Mark Brnovich made the announcement.

The Attorney General’s Office seized the full amount of the funds from the bank account and returned the money to the victims.

This type of real estate wire fraud is becoming more common as more of these transactions take place electronically,” said Attorney General Mark Brnovich. “Con artists like Franco and her associates use sophisticated and legitimate-looking emails to trick home buyers out of their funds. Before wiring any money in a real estate deal, consumers should call their lender or real estate agent to verify the dollar amount and also that the transaction is legitimate.”

On Tuesday, November 5, 2019, Franco pleaded guilty to one count of attempted Money Laundering in the Second Degree.

Franco faces up to 3.75 years in prison. A sentencing hearing is set for December 16, 2019.

This matter was investigated by the FBI Phoenix Field Division’s Tucson Resident Agency.  Assistant Attorney General Rachel R. Heintz is prosecuting the case.

The Arizona Department of Real Estate issued this wire fraud advisory with more tips for Arizona consumers.

 

Alysia Franco, also known as Martha Orozco, was indicted for her alleged involvement in a scheme to steal closing funds during real estate purchase transactions.

In September 2015, the FBI Phoenix Field Division’s Tucson Resident Agency received a report alleging the theft of closing funds in a real estate transaction from a Tucson, Arizona resident.  The alleged victim notified the FBI that they wired their closing funds to a bank account in the name of SkySea Logistics after receiving an email instructing them to do so, purportedly from a party to the real estate closing.  Unbeknownst to the victim, Skysea Logistics Services was not a party to the real estate transaction and was allegedly used as a front business by Franco, who allegedly provided SkySea’s business and account information to others for use in receiving the proceeds of criminal activity between September 2013 and September 2015 as alleged in the indictment.

The resulting investigation by the FBI uncovered another victim in Tucson, Arizona who transferred closing funds to SkySea Logistic Services.  The funds wired by both victims totaled $391,500.00.  The Attorney General’s Office seized the full amount of the funds from SkySea’s bank account and returned the full amount of what was allegedly stolen back to the victims.

The indictment alleges Franco committed two counts of Theft, one count of Money Laundering in the Second Degree, one count of Illegally Conducting an Enterprise, and one count of Conspiracy.

Attorney General Mark Brnovich made the announcement.

This matter was investigated by the FBI Phoenix Field Division’s Tucson Resident Agency.  Assistant Attorney General Rachel R. Heintz is prosecuting the case.

All defendants are presumed innocent until convicted in a court of law.

 

David John Dziedzic, 55, Scottsdale, Arizona, was sentenced on December 17, 2018 to 30 months’ imprisonment for his lead role in criminal activity related to the short sale of distressed mortgages, some of which were federally-insured.

Dziedzic operated the “Housing Angels” program through his company, Real Core Realty, LLC.  He aggressively marketed a program designed to help homeowners stay in their homes following a short sale, through an undisclosed sale-leaseback program with “angel” investors.   Through this program, he typically received commissions from both the buyer and the seller in a short sale transaction. Dziedzic also recorded false secondary liens on more than 100 short sale properties to induce banks holding primary mortgages to pay off the false secondary mortgages, resulting in more than $100,000 in illegal profits as a result of the scheme.

Dziedzic’s wife, Heather Hamilton Dziedzic, 43, pleaded guilty to a related misdemeanor charge, and was also sentenced for her role in the offense.  She will also surrender her real estate license.  She received a two-year term of probation and a deferred disposition on a felony securities charge, which may be dismissed upon successful completion of the probationary term.

Dziedzic had previously pleaded guilty to one count of communication of unregistered securities, and a separate count involving the failure to notify the Treasury Department of his collection of more than $10,000 in cash from a real estate customer.  

As part of the sentence, Dziedzic must give up his real estate license.  He paid $107,280 in restitution for the actual loss caused when 40 banks paid out on the false liens, and he was also ordered to pay a money judgment of $142,000 over time, in order to disgorge additional profits.  As part of the plea agreement, Dziedzic, a Canadian national who naturalized as a U.S. citizen during the investigation, agreed to cooperate in his denaturalization, because he had failed to disclose the existence of the investigation to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services during the naturalization process.

The investigation in this case was conducted by Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation; the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General; the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The prosecution was handled by Gary M. Restaino and Monica B. Klapper, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, District of Arizona, Phoenix.

 

Daniel Barraza Nevarez, Arizona, has plead guilty to two felony counts of Fraudulent Schemes & Artifices and Money Laundering in connection with an alleged scam designed to defraud homeowners and lenders.

Between November 2017 and February 2018, Nevarez filed a series of fraudulent quit-claim deeds transferring him ownership of single family homes in Paradise Valley, Scottsdale, and Phoenix. Nevarez then attempted to use the victims’ homes as collateral to secure cash loans. Nevarez used a false identity to execute this fraud, but his true identity was discovered through an undercover operation conducted by agents of the Arizona Attorney General’s Office and Scottsdale Police Department. http://www.mortgagefraudblog.com/?s=Daniel+Barraza+Nevarez+

The plea agreement requires Nevarez to pay $21,708.43 in restitution for legal fees incurred by the victims as a result of these crimes. Nevarez will also serve no less than eight months in Maricopa County Jail.

Attorney General Mark Brnovich made the announcement.

Assistant Attorney General Adam J. Schwartz prosecuted the case.

Nevarez will be sentenced on November 8, 2018, at Maricopa County Superior Court.

Jon Richard Rattray, Gilbert, Arizona has been indicted on felony counts of Fraud Schemes & Artifices, Money Laundering, Controlling an Illegal Enterprise, Computer Tampering, Aggravated Identity Theft, and Forgery.

The State alleges that Rattray, through his company Hawkeye Real Estate Services, LLC, filed a series of forged lien release documents at the Office of the Maricopa County Recorder with the intent of freeing up equity in homes he owned so that he could take out new loans on those same properties or sell them to purchasers as unencumbered property.  The alleged loss to victims is estimated at over $6 million.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich made the announcement.

This case was referred for investigation by the Office of the Maricopa County Recorder and investigated by agents of the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.

All defendants are presumed innocent until convicted in a court of law.

Assistant Attorney General Adam J. Schwartz is prosecuting this case.

Full copy of the indictment.

Daniel Barraza Nevarez, Arizona, has been indicted on multiple felony counts of Fraudulent Schemes & Artifices, Money Laundering, Forgery, and Criminal Impersonation in connection with an alleged scam designed to defraud homeowners and lenders.

Nevarez allegedly filed a series of forged quitclaim deeds transferring ownership of at least 18 different homes to himself. The homeowners did not know Nevarez and were unaware the deeds to their homes had been transferred to him. The homes were located in different parts of Maricopa County, Arizona including Scottsdale and Paradise Valley.  One of the property deeds transferred is valued at approximately $3.5 million. Nevarez is then accused of contacting home equity lenders to try to take out cash loans on those same properties. To date, we believe Nevarez was unsuccessful in taking out a loan on those properties.

Nevarez was arrested during an undercover operation conducted by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office and the Scottsdale Police Department.

Attorney General Mark Brnovich made the announcement.

Concerned homeowners can go to the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office website to check to see what documents have been recorded in their name.

Assistant Attorney General Adam J. Schwartz is prosecuting this case.

James Thornton, Arizona, a real estate agent, was found guilty of Fraudulent Schemes and Theft after defrauding two banks in a short sale home scam.

In 2012, Thornton was the listing real estate agent for the owner of a home who was in default on both mortgages in Mesa, Arizona. Thornton sold the property via short sale to his parents’ LLC for $580,000. There had been other offers to purchase the home for hundreds of thousands of dollars more, including offers for $870,000, $707,000, and $650,000. Both banks approved the short sale price to Thornton’s parents not knowing about any of the other offers to purchase the property for significantly more.

Four days after Thornton’s parents purchased the home, Thornton became their listing agent and tried to sell the home “off the market” for $1,100,000. Thornton eventually sold the home to a third party for $1,050,000 cash approximately two months later. Thornton’s parents earned $540,722 in profit on the sale for $1,050,000, only having owned the home for two months.

In the course of his fraud scheme, Thornton made false statements and misrepresentations to bank representatives, potential buyers, and other real estate agents. To discourage buyers on the short sale and devalue the home, Thornton misrepresented the true number of rooms and bathrooms in the home, pointed out a code violation that didn’t exist to an appraiser, and removed all of the high end, custom appliances from the home. Thornton also falsely told the $1,050,000 cash buyer that the reason there was a substantial gap between his parents’ purchase price of $580,000 and the new list price of $1,100,000 was because there had been a “lien paid outside of escrow.”

Sentencing is set for March 16, 2018. Thornton faces 3 to 12.5 years in prison.

Attorney General Mark Brnovich made the announcement.

The FBI Phoenix Field Office investigated this case.

Assistant Attorney General Maura Quigley and Scott Blake prosecuted this case.

Daphne Iatridis, 59, and her husband, Arthur Telles, 59, were each sentenced to 30 months in prison and ordered to forfeit 26 fraudulently purchased properties to the United States. Both had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and tax evasion. The couple’s sons, Brendyn Iatridis and Spenser Iatridis, also pleaded guilty to related crimes and were sentenced to 10 months in prison and probation, respectively.

Between 2008 and 2012, the defendants engaged in an elaborate scheme to obtain more than 30 houses from the Federal National Mortgage Association (“FNMA”). Among other things, they stole others’ identities, used bogus trusts to buy the properties, and fraudulently notarized documents to facilitate the improper purchases. In addition, from at least 2010 through 2015, the defendants failed to pay taxes on their rental income from the fraudulently purchased properties.

Real estate professionals who lie and forge documents are a scourge to the industry,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Elizabeth A. Strange. “Our office places a high priority on investigating and prosecuting real estate fraud, and we hope that the lengthy sentences imposed in this case will send a strong message that this type of dishonesty and misconduct will be punished severely.”

This case epitomized the greed that erodes confidence in the Realtor/Mortgage industry,” said Michael DeLeon, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Phoenix Division. “I am pleased the defendants are now being held accountable for their crimes and that the majority of the fraudulently obtained properties will be forfeited.”

Senior U.S. District Judge Neil V. Wake handed down the sentences.  The investigation was conducted by the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s Office of Inspector General, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The prosecution was handled by Kevin M. Rapp and M. Bridget Minder, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, District of Arizona, Phoenix.

Michael Quiroz, Tucson, Arizona, was sentenced by U.S. Chief District Judge Raner C. Collins to 36 months in prison.  Quiroz was previously found guilty at trial of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

The evidence established that Quiroz, a loan officer and mortgage broker, was involved in a multi-year, multi-million dollar cash-back mortgage fraud conspiracy.  Quiroz and others recruited straw buyers to purchase residential properties at inflated prices and Quiroz also helped the straw buyers fraudulently obtain the loans needed to purchase the properties.  The methods used to obtain the loans included fake lease agreements, fake letters of employment, fake letters of credit, and false statements of intent to occupy a property as a primary residence.  Portions of the fraudulently-obtained mortgages were diverted to the bank accounts of Quiroz’s co-conspirators, who would thereafter send kickbacks to Quiroz.  Many of the properties purchased during the scheme eventually went into foreclosure, and the lenders’ losses relating to Quiroz’s conduct during the conspiracy totaled approximately $2.3 million.

The investigation in this case was conducted by the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation.  The prosecution was handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, Tucson.

 

Rosemary Anton, Phoenix, Arizona, was charged by information in a short sale fraud and pled guilty to one count of conspiracy in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona. Sentencing is scheduled for May 8, 2017.

According to the Information, in March 2005, Anton purchased a home located at 3612 East Elm Street, Phoenix, Arizona for $712,000 and obtained two mortgage loans to finance the purchase.

In July 2011, Anton, with the assistance of a real estate agent who is not identified in the information, began trying to sell the property to get her out of the large loan.  Anton and the real estate agent devised a plan whereby Anton would short sell the property to a person who was related to both Anton and the real estate agent.  Anton was to provide all the funds for the relation to purchase the property and Anton would continue to live in the property.  This would allow Anton to stay in the property for half of the amount she originally paid.

Anton and the relation signed a purchase contract with a sales price of $340,000.

As part of the short sale process, they both also signed a “Purchaser Eligibility Certification” which provided that the transaction was arm’s length, that the buyers, sellers and real estate agent did not have a family or business relationship, and there were no agreements by which the seller would remain in the property as tenant or regain ownership.

Anton stated in the short sale package that she had $13,000 in retirement assets when, in fact, she had over $316,000 in retirement assets.

The short sale was approved and completed based on the information and certification submitted.

Anton continued to reside in the property and, less than three years after the short sale, Anton purchased the property from the relation for $340,000, an amount far below the market value of the property in June 2104. The relation received a wire from Anton via the title company for the net proceeds of this sale and, that same day, the real estate agent and relation wired all of the sales proceeds into Anton’s bank account.  Anton then wrote a check to the real estate agent for $90,000. The wires and checks formed the basis of the charges for conspiracy to engage in monetary transactions derived from specified unlawful activity.