LOS ANGELES — Two San Gabriel Valley residents are accused of leading a mortgage fraud ring that stole $2.3 million from CitiMortage and MetLife Bank, authorities announced Wednesday.
Gerard Bueno, 35, of La Habra Heights and Jesus Vega Jr., 28, of Hacienda Heights are accused of leading the fraud ring, which also included seven others, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Detective Christopher Derry said in a written statement.
One New York man and six other California residents were arrested in connection with the scheme, Derry said, including George Kent, 66, of La Mirada.
Between 2007 and 2009, Bueno ran an organization he called Pres Mex, Inc., while Vega ran a group called JVJ, Inc., authorities said.
The two are accused of fraudulently obtaining titles to six Los Angeles County homes through “various means,” the detective said.
“They then obtained loans against the properties in the names of straw buyers, two of which were identity theft victims, and in effect ‘sold’ the properties to themselves at inflated prices that they themselves set,” Derry said.
“Bueno and Vega Jr. recruited friends, family members and acquaintances to act as straw buyers, provided stolen identities, provided false bank account verifications, provided false employment information, and notarized documents when signers were not present,” he added. “Bueno and Vega Jr. split the profits from the fraudulent sales, and paid the other suspects for the aforementioned acts. All six fraudulently obtained loans that went into default.”
Investigators began rounding up the nine suspects April 12 and arrested the final suspect Wednesday, officials said. The suspect jailed in New York was awaiting extradition to California.
The nine suspects are charged with a variety of crimes including grand theft, identity theft, forgery and procuring or offering false or forged instruments, Derry said.
The investigation was handled by the sheriff’s Commercial Crimes Bureau Real Estate Fraud Team and the U.S. Department of Housing and Development.