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    United States Attorney's Office
    Central District of California

    Thom Mrozek
    Public Affairs Officer

    (213) 894-6947
    thom.mrozek@usdoj.gov



    Return to the 2009 Press Release Index
    Release No. 09-070

    June 2, 2009

    REAL ESTATE AGENT CONVICTED IN LOAN FRAUD SCHEME IN WHICH SHE CONSPIRED WITH SISTER TO ‘FLIP’ PROPERTIES AFTER PURCHASING HOMES IN NAMES OF ‘STRAW BUYERS’

    A federal jury in Los Angeles has convicted a real estate agent on fraud and money laundering charges for scheming with her sister to falsify home loan applications and fraudulently generate more than $1 million in proceeds.

    Maria Sanchez, 36, of El Monte, was found guilty yesterday afternoon on 14 counts contained in an indictment, including conspiracy, money laundering, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.  

    The evidence presented during a weeklong trial showed that Maria Sanchez was a real estate agent and loan officer for both Locke Realty & Lending of Sante Fe Springs and Online Financial Services of Lawndale, where she was responsible for completing and verifying information in mortgage applications. As part of the scheme, Maria Sanchez submitted home loan financing packages to purchase residential real estate in the names of family members. Those mortgage applications contained false statements and forged signatures. When the loans were funded, Maria Sanchez fraudulently obtained more than $1 million in loan proceeds from financial institutions and mortgage lenders for properties in El Monte, Norwalk, Paramount and Los Angeles. Maria Sanchez financially benefitted from this scheme by flipping one of the properties, as well as collecting points, fees and commissions from the loan transactions.

    In three of the transactions, Maria Sanchez's sister, Beatriz Sanchez, was identified as the buyer of the property. In the loan applications for those three properties, Maria Sanchez falsified her sister’s income, claiming that Beatriz Sanchez earned up to $8,900 per month. In the loan applications, Maria Sanchez submitted documents she obtained from friends who worked at legitimate businesses that supported the claims of her sister’s inflated income.

    Maria Sanchez is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge George H. Wu on September 10. At that time, Maria Sanchez faces a maximum statutory penalty of 239 years in federal prison. As a result of the aggravated identity theft conviction, Maria Sanchez faces a mandatory sentence of two years in prison.

    Previously in this case, Beatriz Sanchez pleaded guilty to charges that she filed false documents with the Internal Revenue Service. Beatriz Sanchez is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Wu on August 17, at which time she faces a sentence of up to one year in prison.

    The investigation into the Sanchez sisters was conducted by IRS - Criminal Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

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    Release No. 09-070
    Return to the 2009 Press Release Index