A former California real estate agent plead guilty this week to wire fraud and money laundering charges in connection with an elaborate scheme to defraud homeowners and mortgage holders, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ).
The defendant, Robert Jacobsen, 69, formerly of Lafayette, Calif., admitted that he devised a scheme to sell homes that he did not own and did not have clear title to unsuspecting home buyers. He admitted that he operated the scam from October 2012 through October 2013, where he identified properties with existing deeds of trust that were recorded for the benefit of an entity called “American Brokers Conduit” (ABC).
Jacobsen had created a fictitious entity with a similar name called “American Brokers Conduit Corporation” (ABC Corp.). Jacobsen then hired a lawyer to file lawsuits against his phony ABC Corp., claiming that mortgages that had been originated by the real ABC were invalid, according to the USDOJ.
By doing so, Jacobsen had control of both the defense and plaintiff sides of the lawsuits which caused the attorneys to enter into stipulated judgments, agreeing that the mortgage deeds of trust were invalid. The courts then entered judgment based on these fraudulent agreements, which Jacobsen recorded with county recorder’s offices. The result created the impression that the deeds of trust had been legitimately invalidated by federal or state courts.
Through the scam, Jacobsen admitted that two homes were purchased using the sham lawsuits and from the profits from the sales, he used them to pay for a 54’ Hylas sailboat that the government seized at a marina in Beaufort, North Carolina on November 18, 2015. Jacobsen agreed that his interest in this sailboat was subject to forfeiture.
Jacobsen’s sentencing is scheduled for sentencing on November 15, 2017. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years of imprisonment, and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution, for the wire fraud count and a maximum sentence of 10 years of imprisonment, and a fine of $250,000, for the money laundering count.