Three people have been arrested and charged with defrauding the Bank of America by convincing the bank that it had improperly foreclosed on a house, an alleged fraud that cost the bank and a title company $1.5 million.
Saliya "Sal" DeSilva, 49, of Northridge, Vahe Hayrapetian, 45, of Burbank, and Nora Yefima, 50, of Santa Clarita were arrested Friday at their homes by detectives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department's real estate fraud team, according to a department statement.
In July 2009, the owner of a residential property on Gould Avenue in La Canada-Flintridge defaulted on $3.5 million in loans. Bank of America foreclosed on the property and took possession of it, deputies said.
In February 2010, DeSilva reportedly contacted Bank of America—posing at the prior owner—and allegedly provided the bank with counterfeit documents, convincing the bank that its foreclosure was improper, according to the statement.
Bank of America rescinded the foreclosure and DeSilva, a licensed real estate salesperson, listed the property for sale, without the consent or knowledge of the prior owner, deputies said.
In August 2011, the property was eventually sold in a fraudulent short sale, after a title insurance company was given false information about the condition of the property. They were also given counterfeit documents, including a fake Bank of America Short Sale Approval Letter stating that the Bank of America had approved a sales price of $250,000.
The buyer used Hayrapetian—a loan broker—to obtain a $1.5 million loan for the "purchase," according to the department statement, and the funds were transferred by the lender to Oshana Escrow—owned by Yefima—in Encino.
Sheriff's detectives believe Hayrapetian submitted materially false and fraudulent documents to the lender in order to secure the $1.5 million loan. They also believe Yefima sent false documents to Fidelity National Title Company, wire transferred a relatively small portion of the loan funds to the title insurance company for the fraudulent short sale, and then gave out the rest of the funds—an amount exceeding $1 million—to several other people who had nothing to do with the transaction.
The buyer of the property then defaulted on the loan. And since Bank of America never approved the short sale and continues to assert the validity of their $3.5 million in liens, there was insufficient equity in the property to compensate the subsequent lender for their $1.5 million loss.
Fidelity National Title Company insured the lender and may have to reimburse them for the loss, according to the deputies' statement.