FBI arrests 3 for real estate fraud

TUSTIN - Agents with the FBI and Secret Service arrested three men who allegedly defrauded homeowners, banks and investors in schemes that targeted the distressed homeowner market and caused more than $10 million in losses, federal officials announced last week.Those arrested included Atiqulla Nabizada, 29, of Coto de Caza; Kenneth Moore, 49, of Tustin; and Ahmed Tariq Asghari, 32, of Sherman Oaks. A federal grand jury returned two indictments on June 1 that charge the three men 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 trio created fake short sale approval letters purportedly issued by a bank. Many of the properties targeted 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. As a result, homebuyers 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 cases, the defendants would assume the identities of property owners and then sell or refinance the properties without permission. In one case, a home owned by people in Saudi Arabia was transferred multiple times and resulted in more than $1 million in losses, authorities said. Court documents indicate that many co-conspirators knowingly played roles in the schemes, including escrow officers and others who would conceal documents to hide the fraud. All three defendants were arrested last week and are in federal custody awaiting court appearances. Federal agents also executed search warrants and residential and business locations in Los Angeles and Orange counties. Agents seized more than $1.7 million held in bank accounts, $548,937 in cash, two Bentleys and one Mercedes. Various jewels were also seized, including diamond encrusted watches. Authorities think there may be more victims. Anyone with additional information should call FBI investigators at (888) 226-8443.

********** Published: June 21, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 10