Man Admits Guilty to Real Estate Scam Using Fake Open Houses at Homes Not for Sale

Guilty to Real Estate Scam Using Fake Open Houses

Guilty to Real Estate Scam Using Fake Open Houses at Homes Not for Sale

Adolfo Schoneke, 44, of Torrance, California, entered a guilty plea to a federal charge today for his part in a $6 million real estate fraud that involved listing homes without the owners’ permission and obtaining payments from numerous potential buyers for each of the not-for-sale properties. Schoneke was charged with the crime alongside his sister.

On April 4, 2020, Schoneke’s sister, Bianca Gonzalez, also known as Blanca Schoneke, entered a guilty plea to the same criminal charge. Gonzalez is 39 years old.

According to documents filed with the court, Schoneke and Gonzalez, along with other co-conspirators, ran real estate and escrow companies based in Cerritos, La Palma, and Long Beach, California under a variety of names between November 2013 and December 2016, including MCR and West Coast Realty Services.

Even though they had no intention of actually selling the properties to anyone, Schoneke, Gonzalez, and their accomplices looked for homes and other properties that they could put up for sale.

The homes were advertised as below-market short sale opportunities on real estate websites such as the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). These websites are used to list properties for sale in the real estate industry. In some instances, the homes were sold through open houses that were organised by deceiving the homeowners into thinking that they would benefit from allowing their homes to be used.

Each victim was led to believe that his or her offer was the only one that was accepted for each of the properties that were not up for sale; however, the co-conspirators hid the fact that multiple offers had been accepted for each of the properties from the victims.

By telling the victims that the closings were being delayed because lenders needed to approve the purported short sales, the co-conspirators kept the victims on the hook for a long period of time – sometimes for years.

Office workers were directed to open bank accounts by the co-conspirators in order to conceal the co-conspirators’ involvement in the fraud that was being committed. These accounts were used to receive down payments on the homes as well as other payments from victims who were convinced to transfer the full “purchase price” after receiving forged short sale approval letters.

These victims were able to use these accounts to make payments. The co-conspirators gave instructions to the office workers to remove large sums of cash from these accounts, which made it more difficult to track down the proceeds of the crime.

According to estimates provided by investigators, the scheme caused several hundred victims a collective loss of more than six million dollars.

Mario Gonzalez, age 50, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in January 2019, after being charged in a separate but related case as a co-conspirator in the scheme. The date he will be sentenced has been set for October 3, 2022.

Adolfo Schoneke entered a guilty plea to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and the sentencing hearing for Bianca Gonzalez is scheduled to take place on October 3, 2022.

A sentencing hearing for Schoneke has been scheduled for August 8, 2022, and it has been scheduled by United States District Judge R. Gary Klausner. At that hearing, Schoneke will face a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.

This matter was investigated by both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Office of Inspector General of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Numerous complaints were filed with the Long Beach Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, both of which were of significant assistance during the federal investigation. These complaints were the impetus for the investigation, which was initiated.

The prosecution of this case is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Kerry L. Quinn of the Section on Major Frauds.

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