Thursday, July 20, 2017

Feds Bag Suspect In $20 Million Real Estate Ponzi Scheme Who Allegedly Used Forged Deeds To Sell Apartment Complexes That He Didn't Own To Unwitting Investors

In Fresno, California, The Business Journal reports:
  • A Clovis resident was arrested Thursday [July 6] on charges of running a $20 million Ponzi scheme.

    Seth Adam Depiano, 36, was arrested in Las Vegas, and faces criminal charges of mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering.

    According to court document, Deplane is accused of operating a Ponzi scheme that lured real estate investors into investing more than $20 million into businesses he controlled, operating under names including The Rental Group, U.S. Funding and Home Services LLC and Draymond Homes.

    Depiano is suspected of fraudulently promising investors he would use their money to purchase residential properties and either manage them for rental income or arrange for them to be renovated and resold.

    Depiano is accused of presenting investors with document that falsely represented high occupancy rates at the properties, but according to court document, he often had no authority to purchase or sell the properties, and misled investors with fraudulent documents misrepresenting the properties’ ownership.

    Several of the properties in question are located in Fresno.

    One of the properties is the 16-unit North Roosevelt Apartment Complex in Fresno, according to court documents. Depiano is accused of selling the property to investors for $795,000, though he did not own it or have the authority to sell it.

    Another property named in court documents was the 96-unit “Winery Complex” at 1190 S. Winery Ave. in Fresno, which was marketed and allegedly “sold” for $1.7 million as an apartment complex, though it is actually a collection of individually owned condos.

    The FBI investigation was initiated in September 2015, stemming from a report to the Los Gatos Police Department from a notary who said her signature had been forged on a grant deed document for the North Roosevelt complex.

    He is also suspected of paying investors rental income that, in fact, was money other investors had given him for investment purposes.

    Some of the properties he marketed did not actually exist, alleges the U.S. Attorney for the District of Nevada, who investigated the case along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.