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Three arrested in alleged $10-million housing fraud schemes

June 15, 2012 | 12:44 pm

Federal agents have arrested three Southern California men in connection with a variety of schemes that caused $10-million in losses for homeowners, lenders and real estate investors who wanted to buy distressed property, authorities said Friday.

Arrested by the FBI and U.S. Secret Service were Atiqullah Nabizada, 29, of Coto de Caza, Kenneth Moore, 49 of Tustin and Ahmed Tariq Asghari, 32, of Sherman Oaks. Nabizada and Moore were taken into custody Thursday at their homes while Asghari was arrested Friday morning in Miami Beach.

A federal grand jury in Los Angeles indicted the three men in early June on a variety of fraud and identity theft charges stemming from phony home loans and short sales of financially distressed homes.

Authorities said that in some cases the accused claimed to have insiders working at a bank who, in exchange for cash, would authorize the short sale of a home at a price far lower than its fair market value. This allowed the defendants to “flip” the house for a significant profit.

According to the indictment, the three men sometimes used short-sale approval letters that were fabricated. Consequently, authorities said, home buyers and investors purchased homes to which they thought they had clear titles but were actually devalued and subject to hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of liens.

At other times, the three men allegedly assumed the identities of property owners and then sold or refinanced properties without the real owners' authorization. The indictment states that in one scheme a home owned by individuals in Saudi Arabia was transferred multiple times, triggering losses of more than $1 million.

If convicted on all charges, Nabizada and Moore face a maximum penalty of 22 years in prison while Asghari faces a maximum of 32 years in prison.

Investigators estimate that the losses exceed $10 million. Agents also seized more than $548,937 in cash and $1.7 million in proceeds from the alleged schemes held in bank accounts. Other seizures included jewelry and two Bentley luxury cars and a Mercedes-Benz.

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-- Dan Weikel

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