Real Estate Fraud Advisory Team
Ventura County District Attorney Erik Nasarenko met virtually on Monday, March 15, with the Real Estate Fraud Advisory Team and board of directors.
Created in 2005 in response to increasing real estate fraud trends in Ventura County, the group consists of real estate professionals, lending officers, a prosecutor and a representative of the California Department of Real Estate. It advises the District Attorney and Real Estate Fraud Unit on emerging scams, mortgage-related schemes and predatory practices committed against homeowners and renters in an effort to both prevent criminal enterprises and successfully prosecute them.
At Monday’s meeting, advisory members discussed with D.A. Nasarenko the growing prevalence of internet-based real estate crimes, including the online listing of homes for rent that the lister has no authority to rent. Victims will often give a security deposit and one-month rent upfront only to have their money taken and to later learn that the home had already been rented or was never available for occupancy. Advisory members also briefed the District Attorney on loan modification and foreclosure avoidance scams, where criminals, for example, will claim that they can work with the homeowner’s lender to lower their monthly mortgage payment or suspend bank foreclosure proceedings in exchange for an upfront fee. Such fees are unlawful and looking forward into 2021, residential homeowners will likely be subject to an increase in these predatory schemes due to financial distress from the COVID-19 pandemic.