Daniel Deaibes pleaded guilty in federal court today (March 18) to stealing titles of homes and then selling them to victims who learned they owned a home worth nothing.
Deaibes and two other defendants, Mazen Alzoubi and Mohamed Daoud, were indicted late last year. The first two were charged with mail fraud, to which Deaibes pleaded guilty today. Daoud was arrested attempting to leave for his native Norway, and was charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud in a related case.
The conspirators, who attempted to sell at least ten homes for $2.3 million, cooked up an elaborate scheme. They would record fraudulent grant deeds at county recorder's offices, making it appear they were true owners of properties that they controlled through shell companies. They used aliases and sham businesses to pose as owners of properties they were selling. They set up bank accounts for the sham companies so that the fraud proceeds could be funneled out of the scheme.
In one instance, the true owner was the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), which provides liquidity to the mortgage market. Fannie Mae discovered the fraudulent grant deed and filed suit. The conspirators then filed a fraudulent withdrawal lis pendens action (withdrawal of an action noting that a real estate suit has been filed); Fannie Mae defeated that attempt and Deaibes et al created a fake Satisfaction of Judgment and also recorded that. But the scheme fell apart. Alzoubi and Daoud have not yet been tried.