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Cops raid local investment firm

Posted: September 5, 2008 10:18 p.m.
Updated: November 7, 2008 5:00 a.m.
The owner of a local investment company raided Friday by detectives refused to give details about the early morning incidents.

Detectives with the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department's Commercial Crimes Bureau detectives were responding to concerns of investors - many of them senior citizens - who complained of losing their life savings and are allegedly still waiting for a return on their investments.

After a two-month investigation, more than two dozen detectives executed search warrants at the ground floor offices of Gold Credit Investments on Valencia Boulevard between Citrus Street and Magic Mountain Parkway and on the lavish Wayman Street home where business owner Celia Gallardo reportedly lives.

Gallardo, who owns and operates two investment businesses, called media reports about the raids "gossip" and declined to discuss them.

"I can't give any interviews," Gallardo said. "I really can't talk about it. Thank you very much for asking."

Detectives did not charge Gallardo with any crime and she was at her Valencia Boulevard office working Friday.

"Thank you very much for calling," she said.

Detective David Lingscheit, the lead detective in the raids, said his official report of the operation will be ready in two weeks.

"I'm in the process of putting together the paperwork for my supervisor," he said.

Lingscheit confirmed that he and his team carried out the raids in connection with an ongoing fraud investigation.

Items taken as evidence from the locations included documents and computers. More than 50 boxes, retained as evidence, were reportedly moved from the two locations.

Detective are investigating Gallardo's businesses on suspicion of committing security fraud violations and mortgage fraud, Lingscheit said.

In the last two months, about 16 people who reportedly invested money with either Gold Credit
Investments or Gold Feather Realty, met to share their stories and express their unhappiness about allegedly not receiving a return on their investments.

The group of investors - many of them senior citizens - is scheduled to meet Monday night in the office of Santa Clarita Mayor Bob Kellar.

One of those planning to attend is a 60-year-old widow who says she lost everything.

The woman, who lives near Santa Clarita and who requested anonymity, said she is on the verge of losing her home of 33 years.

"We're getting together as a group and we're hoping we can stop this," she said. "It's been a year (since money was invested) and it's been promise after promise after promise."

The woman re-financed her home as advised by Gallardo's agents and now faces losing it altogether.

Her sister, age 65, invested $170,000 in life savings and doesn't know where it is.

"All I can do is trust in God, I can't take it to heaven in a U-Haul with me anyway," she said.


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