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Real Estate Fraud Unit (REFU)

213-486-6620 Office
213-486-8731 FAX

Conducts complex real estate fraud investigations wherein the title was forged and "complex" fraudulent loan modification cases involving multiple victims. The property in question must be in the City of Los Angeles. The REFU will investigate rent scam incidents and complex loan modifications on a case by case basis.

Prevalent scams:
Real Property crimes take on many forms such as suspects who forge signatures on Grant and Quitclaim Deeds. They then use these documents to commit loan fraud to obtain money from equity in the home. There are suspects who seek out abandoned homes in foreclosure, change the locks and rent or sell them to unsuspecting victims.

Suspects also con the unsuspecting elderly victims out of their homes through forgery, home repair/remodeling schemes and large scale investment pyramid schemes involving real property.

How to file a crime report: If you believe you are a victim of real estate fraud, please contact your nearest Police station and report your crime. Prepare a written explanation of what occurred. Your explanation should include:
  1. Please provide the officer with a brief overview of the events that took place.
  2. The names, addresses and telephone numbers of the people and companies involved.
  3. Copies of all documents you signed or that were given to you, including grant deeds, quitclaim deeds. Reconeyance, notes, contracts, escrow instructions and statements.
  4. Copies of cancelled checks, or money orders (both front and back) that you gave in payment or that were given to you as payment
The location of the Crime
The jurisdiction for Real Estate related crimes is based upon the
location of the property that has been transferred through a forged/fraudulent deed. The address for the involved property should the location of Occurrence. The property in question must be in the City of Los Angeles.

Penal Code Sections used in Real Estate Fraud
If a forged or fraudulent document has been recorded with the County Recorder Office, there is a violation of 115 (a) PC, a felony.
Other Sections
  • Forgery 470 P.C.
  • Grand Theft 487 (a) P.C.
  • False Financial Statements 532 (a) 1 P.C.
Crime Prevention Tips
  • When you are suspicious act quickly, don't minimize or disregard mailed notifications. - pertaining to your unit's responsibilities.
  • Monitor the status of your property for any unexplained changes in title either by going to the County Recorder's Office or asking a real estate professional to assist you via the Internet.
  • Check out the real estate licensee you are dealing with on the DRE website for any complaints or disciplinary actions.
  • Ask questions and verify if what is told to you is correct, you don't have to rush into anything.
Resources for Real Estate Fraud
There are many avenues you may need to pursue: Criminal, Civil Lawsuit, Consumer
Affair or Department of Real Estate Complaints.

California Department of Real Estate
320 W 4th Street, Suite 350
Los Angeles, CA 90013

The Department of Real Estate license, regulates and investigates complaints about real estate brokers, salespersons and some mortgage brokers and escrow.

Los Angeles County Bar Association
P.O. Box 55020
Los Angeles, CA 90055

The Bar Association can help consumers find lawyers that deal specifically with real estate cases.

Department of Corporations
Financial Services Division
320 W 4th Street, Suite 750 Los Angeles, CA 90013

DOC regulates some escrow companies and the sale of securities, such as fractionalized deeds of trust and verifies the licenses of mortgage bankers.

Los Angeles County Department of Consumer Affairs
Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration
500 W Temple Street, Room B96
Los Angeles, CA 90012

The Department of Consumer Affairs can assist with complaints of real estate fraud and other consumer issues.

Bet Tzedek Legal Services
145 S. Fairfax Ave.
Suite 200
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Bet Tzedek is Hebrew for the "house of justice" is a community law office staffed by volunteers.  Bet Tzedek is one of the nation's premier legal services organizations, providing free legal assistance.

Legal Aid Foundation of LA
1102 Crenshaw Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90019
Tel: 323-801-7991

The Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA) provided legal assistance for low income people in Los Angeles.