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“We Buy Ugly Homes” Franchisee Pleads Guilty to Attempted Grand Theft

VENTURA, California – District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced today that Corey Evans (DOB 11/07/78), of Santa Clarita, pled guilty to two felony counts of attempted grand theft by false pretenses. The charges are the result of an investigation conducted by the District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit, acting on a referral from Ventura County Adult Protective Services.

Evans is a co-owner of HomeVestors, an independently owned “We Buy Ugly Houses” franchise. HomeVestors offers to purchase homes for cash in “as-is” condition. Evans provided false information to two separate elderly homeowners to induce them to sign contracts for HomeVestors to purchase their homes. Both victims, aged 72 and 76, are Camarillo residents. When each victim attempted to cancel their contract, HomeVestors recorded liens on their homes and threatened civil litigation.

Evans will be sentenced on September 24, 2020, at 9:00 a.m. in courtroom 23 of the Ventura County Superior Court. At the time of his sentencing hearing Evans will be ordered to pay restitution to the victims, remove all liens, and cease all civil litigation against them.

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Local Real Estate Agent Sentenced for Stealing Construction Funds

VENTURA, California – District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced today that Megan Elizabeth Zucaro (DOB 7/11/70), of Thousand Oaks, was sentenced to 365 days in jail by Judge Anthony Sabo.

Zucaro had previously pled guilty to one felony count of diversion of construction funds. The investigation and prosecution of Zucaro was conducted by the District Attorney’s Office Real Estate Fraud Unit.

Megan Elizabeth Zucaro (DOB 7/11/70)



Zucaro, a local real estate agent licensed by the California Department of Real Estate (DRE), targeted a 91-year-old victim in Piru. Zucaro first convinced the victim to give her a 50 percent interest in his property so she could obtain a loan to develop the property on his behalf. Zucaro paid nothing in return for her interest in the property, currently valued at approximately $2 million. After being added onto the property’s title, Zucaro then stripped the property of its equity by using it as collateral for a hard-money loan. After prepaid interest and loan fees were deducted, Zucaro received net proceeds of $165,000.

Within 30 days of receiving the $165,000, Zucaro spent the funds on personal expenses completely unrelated to developing the victim’s property.
Zucaro was sentenced to 365 days in jail and placed on 60 months of felony probation. She was also ordered to pay $300,200 in restitution to the victim and must surrender her real estate license to the DRE.

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Repeat Real Estate Fraud Offender Sentenced to Prison

RojasVENTURA, California – District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced today that James Anthony Rojas (DOB 1/11/57), of Murrieta, was sentenced to 13 years 8 months in state prison by Judge David Worley. The sentence imposed was the maximum allowed by law. Rojas had previously been found guilty of nine felony counts, including foreclosure consultant fraud, grand theft, and recording false documents following a court trial in January. The investigation and prosecution of Rojas was conducted by the District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit.

Rojas targeted real estate owned by five senior citizens in Ventura County. Victims ranged in age from 69 to 90 years old. Using various schemes, Rojas targeted victim properties with false liens and deeds that clouded lawful title to each affected property. Rojas swindled one elderly victim by convincing him to sign a deed outside of escrow for property Rojas promised to purchase for $1.8 million. Rojas then recorded the deed without paying the victim anything in return. Rojas has prior convictions for real estate fraud, including grand theft, forgery, and recording false documents. He currently has similar charges pending against him in Los Angeles and Alameda Counties.

In addition to his 13-year 8-month prison sentence, Rojas was also ordered to pay victim restitution and fined $500,000 by the court.

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Local Realtor Sentenced for Income Tax Evasion

VENTURA, California – District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced today that Debra Elaine Ashcraft (DOB 11/23/57), of Camarillo, was sentenced to 180 days in the Ventura County jail for income tax evasion. The charges were the result of an investigation conducted by the District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit and the California Franchise Tax Board.

Ashcraft structured payments and bank deposits of real estate commissions she earned to avoid triggering mandatory bank reporting requirements in order to conceal her income from tax authorities. The law requires banks to report transactions exceeding $10,000. She also failed to file California income tax returns for the tax years 2013 through 2017.

Ashcraft was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $78,000 to the California Franchise Tax Board and placed on formal felony probation for 60 months.

 

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Real Estate Agent Charged with Grand Theft and Money Laundering

Zucaro Booking PhotoVENTURA, California – District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced today the filing of a criminal complaint against Megan Elizabeth Zucaro (DOB 7/11/70), of Thousand Oaks, charging one felony count of grand theft, one felony count of diversion of construction funds, and one felony count of money laundering. The investigation and prosecution of Zucaro was conducted by the District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit.

Zucaro, a real estate agent licensed by the California Department of Real Estate, is accused of misappropriating approximately $165,000 in loan proceeds. Zucaro convinced a 90-year-old victim to give her a 50 percent interest in his property in order to obtain a loan to develop the property on his behalf. Zucaro paid nothing in return for her interest in the property, which has an estimated value of $2 million. After being added on to the property’s title, Zucaro used it as collateral for a loan with net proceeds of $165,000. Within 30 days of receiving the $165,000, Zucaro allegedly spent these funds on personal expenses unrelated to the victim’s property development.

Arraignment is scheduled March 5, 2020, at 9:00 a.m. in courtroom 12 of the Ventura County Superior Court. Zucaro is currently in custody with bail set at $500,000. If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of 3 years 8 months in prison.

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Career Real Estate Fraud Offender Found Guilty

RojasVENTURA, California – District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced today that James Anthony Rojas (DOB 1/11/57), of Riverside, was found guilty of nine felony counts, including foreclosure consultant fraud, grand theft, and recording false documents by Judge David Worley following a court trial. Judge Worley also found true a special allegation that Rojas caused losses exceeding $500,000. The investigation and prosecution of Rojas was conducted by the District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit.

 

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“We Buy Ugly Homes” Franchisee Charged with Attempted Grand Theft

VENTURA, California- District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced today that Santa Clarita resident Cory Evans (DOB 11/07/78), has been charged with two felony counts of attempted grand theft by false pretenses and two felony counts of attempted financial elder abuse. The charges are the result of an investigation conducted by the Ventura County District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit, acting on a referral from Ventura County Adult Protective Services.

Evans is a co-owner of HomeVestors, an independently owned “We Buy Ugly Houses” franchise. HomeVestors offers to purchase homes for cash in “as-is” condition. Evans is accused of providing false information to two separate elderly homeowners to induce them to sign contracts for Home Vestors to purchase their homes. Both victims, aged 72 and 76, are Camarillo residents. When each victim attempted to cancel their contract, Home Vestors threatened civil litigation. Evans is scheduled to be arraigned on February 4, 2020, at 9:00 a.m., in courtroom 12 of the Ventura County Superior Court.

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Trio Sentenced to Prison for Sophisticated Real Estate Scam

VENTURA, California  District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced today that Los Angeles County residents Patrick Abrahamian (DOB 1/6/70), Michelle Abrahamian (DOB 5/27/71), and Taline Indra (DOB 2/29/80) were each sentenced to prison for their theft of a Bell Canyon home. Patrick Abrahamian was sentenced to 11 years 4 months in prison. Michelle Abrahamian and Taline Indra were each sentenced to 7 years 8 months in prison.  In February, the defendants were convicted following a one-month jury trial.  The case is the result of an investigation conducted by the District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit.

In 2012, Patrick Abrahamian approached the 65-year-old victim with an offer to help him negotiate a modification of his mortgage.  In return, the victim agreed to move out and lease his home to the Abrahamians while Patrick Abrahamian supposedly negotiated a new mortgage for the victim.  At the end of the lease term, the Abrahamians refused to vacate the home.  After consulting with an attorney, the victim learned that a notarized grant deed had been recorded conveying his home, as a gift, to Abrahamian’s wife, Michelle Abrahamian.  At the time of the offenses, Michelle Abrahamian was a licensed real estate agent.

The deed gifting away the victim’s home was fraudulently notarized by defendant Taline Indra, who is Michelle Abrahamian’s sister.  Patrick Abrahamian subsequently impersonated the victim in a lawsuit filed by Abrahamian against the victim’s mortgage lender.  This impersonation caused additional false documents to be filed in both the Ventura Superior Court and the County Recorder’s Office.     Michelle Abrahamian was found in possession of notary acknowledgments that falsely claimed the victim had appeared before defendant Indra to have his signature notarized.

Judge Michael Lief noted that the sophistication and brazenness of the defendants’ fraudulent scheme “shocked the conscience of the court.” In addition to the prison sentence, each defendant was also fined $500,000 and ordered to pay $189,382 in victim restitution.

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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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