Detectives arrested three people Friday in connection with a complex real estate fraud scheme centering around a multi-million dollar La Canada Flintridge home, authorities said.
Saliya “Sal” DeSilva, 49, of Northridge, Nora Yefima, 50, of Santa Clarita and Vahe Hayrapetian, 45, of Burbank were each arrested at their homes Friday after being indicted by a federal grand jury Tuesday on charges of wire and bank fraud, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
The alleged scheme began in July of 2009 after the owner of a $3.5 million home on Gould Avenue in La Canada Flintridge defaulted on the mortgage, officials said. Bank of America then foreclosed and the property and took possession of it.
Posing as the home’s previous owner and presenting counterfeit documents, DeSilva contacted Bank of America and persuaded officials there that the foreclosure was improper, sheriff’s officials said.
The bank rescinded the foreclosure and DeSilva, who is a licensed real estate salesperson, “listed the property for sale without the consent or knowledge of the prior owner,” according to the sheriff’s department statement.
DeSilva sold the house in 2011 through a fraudulent short sale for a fraction of it’s market value, officials said. Fraudulent documents were used to move the transaction forward.
The buyer obtained $1.5 million in loans for the purchase, which were wire transferred to Oshana Escrow in Encino, owned by Yefima.
Yefima is accused of sending false documents to a title insurance company, Fidelity National Title Company, as well as wiring a small portion of the $1.5 million loan to the title insurance company while dispersing more than $1 million to “several other parties who had nothing to do with the transaction,” according to the statement.
In order to secure the fraudulent $1.5 million loan, authorities allege loan broker Vahe Hayrapetian provided falsified documents to the lender.
The new buyer of the Gould Avenue home defaulted on the allegedly fraudulent loan, officials said. But since Bank of America never approved the short sale and is still owed $3.5 million, there is not enough equity in the home to reimburse the subsequent lender for the $1.5 million lost in the defaulted loan.
The title insurance company may end up having to pay for the discrepancy, officials added.
The investigation was carried out by detectives from the sheriff’s Real Estate Fraud Team, in partnership with the FBI.