In 1996, the Office of the District Attorney created the Real Estate Fraud Unit to investigate and prosecute crimes involving real estate documents and transactions. At the time, the unit consisted of an attorney, an investigator and a paralegal. With the dramatic rise in costs of real estate in Santa Clara County, there has been a significant rise of real estate fraud crimes. Currently, the Real Estate Fraud Unit consists of deputy district attorneys, criminal investigators and a paralegal.
The mission of the Real Estate Fraud Unit is to deter, investigate, and prosecute real estate fraud cases involving certain recorded real estate documents. The Unit emphasizes those situations where an individual’s home is in danger of, or is in foreclosure. Our mission is to be liberally construed to include crimes which have the capacity to involve a recorded real estate document(s), e.g., an unrecorded second trust deed fraud resulting in a foreclosure notice.
The Real Estate Fraud Unit takes only written complaints. You can call (408) 808-3787 to request a complaint form be sent to you. In addition to the written compliant form, the Real Estate Fraud Unit requests complainants provide, on a separate sheet of paper, a written narrative indicating the conduct the complainant believes is illegal and a list of all relevant events in chronological order. To fully understand a complaint, the Unit asks for copies of all relevant documentation, i.e. deed of trust, loan file, escrow file, etc. Please feel free to contact the Real Estate Fraud Unit’s paralegal at (408) 808-3787 if you have any questions. If you prefer, you may e-mail the office email@example.com and your question or issue will be forwarded to the appropriate individual.
A deputy district attorney will review complaints sent to the Real Estate Fraud Unit. The completed complaint package consists of the complaint form, narrative, chronology and copies of all relevant documents. Based on the information provided in the complaint package, the deputy district attorney will decide if a criminal investigation will be initiated. If so, a criminal investigator will be assigned to investigate the alleged criminal act(s). The type of investigation and the length will depend on the specific facts of the case. After the completion of an investigation, the deputy district attorney will review the facts of the case and decide whether to file criminal charges against an individual or company. After charges are filed, the Office of the District Attorney will represent the People of California throughout the completion of the court case. The District Attorney's Office collectivelyrepresents the people of the State ofCalifornia, not any oneindividual.
The Real Estate Fraud unit, if appropriate, will refer a complaint to another department or agency that may be of assistance to the complainant. The agencies and/ or departments the unit works closely with are the District Attorneys’ Consumer Protection Unit and Elder Financial Abuse Unit and the Santa Clara County Public Guardian. Sometimes, the best solution to a real estate issue is for a complainant to hire a private attorney to represent his or her interests.
The types of cases handled by the unit vary in complexity and in losses to victims. The charges most often filed for real estate fraud cases are grand theft, theft by false pretenses, forgery, securities fraud and false recordation.
When the criminal act or acts result in an actual loss to the victim, the Real Estate Fraud Unit is committed to obtaining restitution orders on behalf of the victim. However, often times, the defendant does not have the means to pay restitution to the victim. In such cases, the victim can seek compensation from the Department of Real Estate or seek civil remedies.
The Unit recommends the following agencies that may be of assistance regarding a real estate matter.
Santa Clara County Recorder's Office. This site allows you to research the Santa Clara County Recorder''s Indexes for Official Records, Death Records and Marriage Records.
California Department of Real Estate
Contractors State Licensing Board
California Department of Corporation. A State agency that regulates the offer and sale of securities, franchises and off-exchange commodities, and transactions involving certain fiduciaries and lenders regulated by the Department.
Santa Clara County, Office of the Assessor. The Assessor has the responsibility to locate all taxable property in the County, identify ownership, establish a value for all property subject to local property taxation, list the value of all property on the assessment roll, and apply all legal exemptions.
Santa Clara County Bar Association, Lawyer Referral Service. The County Bar Association can set up a 30-minute consultation between an attorney and an individual for $30. There is a Modest Means Panel for individuals who cannot afford the consultation fee.
McGeorge School of Law, Victims of Crime Resource Center,located on the McGeorge campus, operates the State of California’s 1-800-Victims line.McGeorge students, under attorney supervision, provide information and referrals statewide to victims, their families, victim service providers, and other interested parties. Also available are free informational material concerning victims’ rights.The Center is mandated and funded by legislation and is operated in cooperation with the Office of Criminal Justice Planning.
Santa Clara County, Victim Witness Assistance Center.The VWAC can help victims with crisis counseling, follow-up care, assistance in court and recovery of loss.
For More Information Please Contact:
Real Estate Fraud Unit
70 West Hedding Street, West Wing
San Jose, CA 95110
Phone: (408) 792-2818