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Local woman among three arrested for real estate fraud

Posted: October 6, 2012 5:28 p.m.
Updated: October 6, 2012 5:28 p.m.

A Canyon Country woman was among three Los Angeles-area residents indicted and arrested in a $1.5 million real estate fraud case involving a property in La Canada Flintridge.

Nora Yefima was arrested Friday along with Saliya “Sal” DeSilva of Northridge and Vahe Hayrapetian of Burbank. The trio is accused of defrauding Bank of America and the Fidelity National Title Company out $1.5 million.

According to officials, the scheme began in July 2009, when Bank of America foreclosed on a $3.5 million property in La Canada Flintridge after the mortgage holders defaulted on a loan.

DeSilva allegedly contacted the bank posing as the former owner and was able to get the bank to rescind the foreclosure after furnishing counterfeit documents. DeSilva then listed the property for sale.

In August 2011 the property was sold fraudulently in a short sale. In a short sale, the price received for a property is less than the debt owed on it.

In the case of a legitimate short sale, the company or person who holds the debt — in this case Bank of America — has to agree to the short sale. The bank never did so in the case of the La Canada Flintridge property.

The defendants allegedly used bogus Bank of America documents to proceed with the scam.

Hyrapetian, a loan broker, obtained a $1.5 million loan for the buyer and transferred the funds to Oshana Escrow in Encino. The third defendant in the case, Yefima, is the owner of Oshana Escrow.

Yefima allegedly sent out a large portion of the loan money, in excess of $1 million, to several other people who were apparently uninvolved with the transaction.

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Detective Chris Derry, who worked the case, said the investigation remains open and there may be others indicted in the case.

Derry said Saturday the Sheriff’s Department became involved last October once Fidelity learned that it had received fraudulent documents related to the property. From that point on, the case involved subpoenaing computer, real estate and financial records.

Derry, who has been on the Sheriff’s Department team specializing in real estate fraud since 2010, said the department is seeing increasing instances of this kind of fraud.

“Fraud tends to follow what is happening,” Derry said. “There are a lot of short sales happening now, so there is a lot of short sale fraud.”




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