Man sentenced in scam targeting Southern California homeowners
A Riverside County judge Tuesday sentenced a Los Angeles man to 169 days in county jail for running a company that scammed Southern California homeowners into paying $167 for copies of their grant deeds to prove ownership.
Pablo Alfonso Fourquet, 37, on Oct. 11 pleaded guilty to theft by false pretense. On Tuesday, he also was ordered to repay $417,000 to victims of the scheme and given three years probation, according to the Riverside County district attorney’s office.
Fourquet owned a company called Title Compliance Office, which sent letters to homeowners in Riverside and Los Angeles counties –- as well as Phoenix and Las Vegas -- that falsely appeared to be from a government agency.
The letters claimed to come from the Records Retrieval Division of the agency and stated that, because of foreclosures and loan modifications, homeowners must have a certified copy of their deed to prove ownership. Homeowners were told to pay $167 to receive the copy.
Nearly 2,500 homeowners responded between April 2010 and April 2011, according to the district attorney’s office. Authorities have seized more than $500,000 from Fourquet’s bank accounts.
Homeowners rarely need to have a copy of their grant deed and, if they do, the deeds can be easily obtained from the county assessor’s office for usually less than $10.
-- Phil Willon