Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Two San Bernardino brothers, John and David Zepeda, have been charged with running a foreclosure fraud scheme throughout Southern California since 2006. They are accused of defrauding more than 300 victims of at least $1.5 million.
SAN DIEGO Two San Bernardino brothers, John and David Zepeda, have been charged with running a foreclosure fraud scheme throughout Southern California since 2006. They are accused of defrauding more than 300 victims of at least $1.5 million.
More than 40 San Diego County residents are among those allegedly swindled by the Zepedas. The brothers forged documents and coerced homeowners to get possession of foreclosed homes. They then rented the properties while drawing out the foreclosure process by filing bankruptcy under multiple names.
Investigators seized a Bentley; gold and diamond jewelery; gold, silver bullion and more than $360,000 in cash and uncashed checks when they arrested the brothers on September 1.
San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis has charged each brother with more than 100 felonies and said their scheme was not unique.
"The scope of this particular real estate fraud and the defendants' purchases with their ill-gotten gains are extraodinary," said Dumanis. "But unfortunately, this is yet another example of the various types of foreclosure scams we continue to see in the county."
San Diego County Deputy District Attorney Valerie Tanney will be prosecuting the Zepedas. She said each instance of fraud had multiple victims.
“You have the renters who are out their rent money or security deposit that they paid when they had to leave the home that they thought that they were legitimately renting. You have owners who have lost their homes to foreclosure who thought that they would be saved. And you have the banks whose mortgage payments were diverted away from paying mortgages,” Tanney said.
The brothers could spend up to 72 years in prison if convicted of all charges, which include identity theft, forgery, grand theft, rent skimming and conspiracy.
County prosecutors said they expect to discover more people victimized by the Zepedas. They said anyone who suspects they have been a victim of foreclosure fraud should contact the District Attorney's Office.