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Post-Disaster Scam Advisory I VC District Attorney’s Office

District Attorney Gregory D. Totten warned today that county residents should exercise increased vigilance against scams designed to exploit residents impacted by the Thomas fire.

The District Attorney recommends the following tips to avoid becoming a victim:

·         Scammers posing as insurance company representatives may call homeowners with an option to pay an increased premium over the phone to expand coverage options for possible smoke damage, or to pay their deductible in the same manner. Insured individuals are advised to contact their insurance companies directly regarding any offers related to their insurance coverage. Only accept information from trusted sources.

·         Exercise caution regarding unsolicited clean-up, repair, or construction scams. These scams are initiated door-to-door in impacted neighborhoods. They may involve demands for upfront payment or deposits, which are then pocketed while the promised work is never completed. Instead use only licensed contractors. You can verify a contractor’s license at http://www.cslb.ca.gov/. If a contractor claims necessary work is covered by your insurance company, first call your insurance company to confirm. Consider using contractors recommended by your insurance company for any needed work and obtain more than one estimate. Also consider only using contractors with a local business location.

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Defendant Pleads Guilty in Mortgage Rescue Fraud Scam

VENTURA, California – District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced today that Orange County resident Rex Salonga (DOB 2/21/71) pled guilty to one felony count of grand theft, in violation of Penal Code section 487. The case was the result of an investigation conducted by the District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit.

The victim, who lives in Oxnard, sought a mortgage loan modification from Salonga’s business, Stone Crest Mortgage. Salonga falsely claimed he was a licensed real estate agent and promised to help the victim obtain a loan modification. Salonga solicited approximately $9,000 from the victim, claiming the money would be passed on to the victim’s mortgage lender. Salonga instead deposited the money into his own bank account. The victim received no actual assistance from Salonga.

Salonga will be sentenced on January 5, 2018, at 9:00 a.m. in Ventura Superior Court, courtroom 12. He faces up to 365 days in jail and 60 months of formal probation and will be ordered to pay restitution. Salonga was convicted earlier this year of felony grand theft in Orange County for similar conduct. Consumers can verify the status of any individual’s real estate license at http://www.calbre.ca.gov.

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Prosecution Update: William Kenneth O’Daniel faces 120 days in prison & 36 months of probation.

District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced today that Thousand Oaks resident William Kenneth O’Daniel (DOB 6/6/61) was sentenced to 120 days in jail and placed on 36 months of formal probation. O’Daniel had earlier pleaded guilty to one count of False Personation under Penal Code section 529. The charges were the result of an investigation conducted by the District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit.

Throughout 2011 and 2012, O’Daniel used the identity of two licensed mortgage brokers to process numerous loans without their knowledge or permission. The financial institution that funded the loans had previously discontinued using O’Daniel as an approved broker. They were unaware O’Daniel was processing new loans under the assumed identities.

O’Daniel’s real estate broker license, and the corporate broker license of his company, Malibu Mortgage, Inc., were both earlier revoked by the California Bureau of Real Estate.

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Juan Carlos Guerra of Simi Valley has pleaded guilty to one felony count of grand theft

VENTURA, California – District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced today that Sunland resident Juan Carlos Guerra (DOB 5/5/86) has pleaded guilty to one felony count of grand theft. The case was the result of an investigation conducted by the District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit. He will be sentenced on September 19, 2017 and will face a maximum of 365 days in prison. He will be ordered to $20,000 in victim restitution.

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Patrick Iturra sentenced 365 days in jail, ordered to pay $100,000 in victim restitution and placed on 60 months formal probation.

VENTURA, California – District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced today that the Honorable Matthew Guasco sentenced Canyon Lake resident Patrick Iturra (DOB 7/27/70) to 365 days in jail for his role in a fraudulent foreclosure rescue business. Iturra was convicted of two felony counts of foreclosure consultant fraud, and three felony counts of grand theft. The charges were the result of an investigation conducted by the District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit.

Iturra operated a fraudulent business under the name of Mercury Business Group. Iturra, together with co-defendants Roberto Sanchez (DOB 12/28/48) and Rosalva Sanchez (DOB 9/9/53), solicited struggling homeowners with promises of saving their distressed homes from foreclosure. The defendants received thousands of dollars from eight victims who received no actual services and were instead diverted from legitimate assistance. All but one of the victims lost their homes to foreclosure. Victims’ monetary losses totaled $100,000.

Iturra was placed on 60 months formal probation, ordered to pay $100,000 in victim restitution, and is prohibited from working in any business related to real estate or foreclosure rescue. Roberto and Rosalva Sanchez were sentenced for their role in the scheme last year.

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Jose Armando Rodriguez pleaded guilty to grand theft, foreclosure consultant fraud, and recording a false instrument

VENTURA, California – District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced today that Fontana resident Jose Armando Rodriguez (DOB 11/20/59) pleaded guilty to grand theft, foreclosure consultant fraud, and recording a false instrument.

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