San Diego has its variation on the stock-market swindle of pump 'n' dump; it's forge 'n' dump.
Between 2012 and 2014, a ring of schemers would forge false deeds indicating that they owned certain homes. Then they recorded those deeds at the county recorder's offices. Most of the homes had been foreclosed upon and were owned by financial institutions (mainly Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac), says assistant U.S. attorney Emily W. Allen.
They had to dump the homes quickly because the financial institution would discover the fraud before too much time passed. So the conspirators usually had to find buyers who would purchase sight-unseen, and in a hurry, says Allen. The schemers came up with excuses why "they did not have access to a walk-through," says Allen. They would offer big discounts to lure in such buyers, often on the internet.
Those who "bought" the homes found they had paid for a home worth nothing.
Yesterday (July 6), one of the ring members, Mohamed Douad, pleaded guilty to laundering the proceeds of these bogus sales. Allen says she cannot discuss whether Daoud used offshore tax havens in the laundering process.
In March, Daniel Deaibes pleaded guilty to participating in the forge 'n' dump scheme, and a third defendant, Mazen Alzoubi, was arrested last November in a related case.
The FBI and Federal Housing Finance Agency are still seeking information on this scam and similar ones.