Northern California Real Estate Investor Pleads Guilty to Bid Rigging at Public Foreclosure Auctions
A Northern California real estate investor pleaded guilty yesterday for his role in a conspiracy to rig bids at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Northern California, the Department of Justice announced.
California real estate investor Ramin Rad “Ray” Yeganeh pleaded guilty to one count of bid rigging in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in Oakland. He was charged in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in the Northern District of California on June 25, 2015.
According to court documents, as early as September 2008 and continuing until in or about January 2011, Yeganeh conspired with others not to bid against one another, instead designating a winning bidder to obtain selected properties at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Alameda County. The selected properties were then awarded to the conspirators who submitted the highest bids in second, private auctions. The private auctions often took place at or near the courthouse steps where the public auctions were held.
The Department determined that the primary purpose of the conspiracies was to suppress and eliminate competition in order to obtain selected real estate offered at Alameda County public foreclosure auctions at noncompetitive prices. When real estate properties are sold at these auctions, the proceeds are used to pay off the mortgage and other debt attached to the property, with remaining proceeds, if any, paid to the homeowner.
The guilty plea entered yesterday was the result of the Department’s ongoing investigation into bid rigging at public real estate foreclosure auctions in San Francisco, San Mateo, Contra Costa and Alameda counties, California. To date, 60 individuals have agreed to plead or have pleaded guilty.
These investigations are being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s San Francisco Office and the FBI’s San Francisco Office. Anyone with information concerning bid rigging or fraud related to real-estate foreclosure auctions should contact the Antitrust Division’s San Francisco Office at (415) 934-5300 or call the FBI tip line at (415) 553-7400.