Investigation Leads to Jail Sentence in Scam That Took Homes from Elderly, Infirm
Aguayo couple convicted on 26 felony counts,
receive three years in jail for real estate scam
Updated Oct. 17, 2011
Jesus and Sofia Aguayo, a husband and wife team who ran a real estate scam, were recently convicted on 26 felony counts and sentenced to three years in county jail. The Aguayos were convicted on various charges such as conspiracy to file false tax returns with the Franchise Tax Board and false documents with various county recorder offices.
The Aguayos targeted senior citizens in a scam in which they gained title to over 100 homes in Southern California. After gaining illegal possession of the homes, the Aguayos rented out the homes to unsuspecting tenants, profiting thousands of dollars in rental income each month.
A civil case against the Aguayos is pending. The case was successfully prosecuted by the Attorney Generalís Office.
Original release from October 18, 2006
A yearlong investigation by County of Los Angeles Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) investigators resulted in the arrests of a Monterey Park couple this morning by Agents from the California Department of Justice. The couple is accused of unlawfully taking possession of roughly 100 homes, many of which are owned by senior citizens. The elderly victims were often ill or living in a nursing facility. Some of the homes were vacant because the owners were deceased. The suspects rented out the properties and keep the income for themselves. It is believed that the defendants defrauded the homeowners of homes and personal property valued at more than $5 million. The case filed today will seek to force the defendants to pay restitution to the homeowners.
Taken into custody this morning and booked in the Los Angeles County Jail on $1.4 million bail each were Jesus Duran Aguayo, 52, and Sofia Aguayo, 52, both of Monterey Park. The husband and wife will be charged with more than twenty felony counts including grand theft, residential burglary, forgery, filing false documents, elder abuse and conspiracy. If convicted on all counts, each defendant could face roughly 20 years in state prison. The case is being prosecuted by California Attorney General Bill Lockyer’s office.
Illegal Squatter Scheme
A yearlong investigation by investigators of DCA’s Real Estate Fraud Unit revealed that the Aguayos had perpetrated a complex variation of the illegal squatter scheme. The Aguayos trolled Los Angeles County looking for homes that owed back taxes. They then conducted surveillance on such homes to find out if they were occupied. If they determined the homes were unoccupied, they paid the delinquent taxes. They then filed fraudulent quitclaim deeds that purported to transfer the property between themselves – without the legal owner’s knowledge or consent. Having used fraud to lay a phony legal claim to the property, the Aguayos then rented the house and kept the money. The investigation uncovered about 100 instances in which the Aguayos attempted to perpetrate some form of this fraud.
A Good Neighbor
DCA’s investigation began when a concerned citizen reported that he had not seen his elderly neighbor in months and that strangers were working on the home. The individual was concerned that his neighbor had died and that the house had been sold. When DCA investigators located the missing neighbor in a nursing home, he said that he had forgotten to pay the property taxes on the home he inherited from his mother. The Aguayos perpetrated their fraudulent scheme to take possession of the home. The neighbor reported seeing the suspects dumping the contents of the house into a garbage bin. The neighbor also reported that a 1967 red Ford Mustang parked on the property had disappeared.
In addition to the filing of criminal charges by the California Attorney General’s office valuable assistance was received from several Los Angeles County agencies including the Assessor’s Office, the Sheriff’s Department, the Community and Senior Services Department Adult Protective Services Unit, and the Registrar-Recorder’s office. Assistance was also provided by the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office and the South Gate Police Department.
How to Get Help
Consumers who feel they have been victimized by real estate fraud should contact DCA’s Real Estate Fraud Unit at (800) 973-3370 or (213) 974-1450.