For release on July 10, 2013
Katharina L. Wells, Deputy District Attorney
Real Estate Fraud Unit
REAL ESTATE AGENT CONVICTED IN PONZI SCAM
A San Jose real estate agent was sentenced to 15 years in prison this week after being convicted of an elaborate Ponzi scheme in which she defrauded more than $2 million from her friends and family.
Jill Marie Silvey, 51, spent the money on personal items such as shoes, clothes and home furnishings.
The Honorable Philip Pennypacker sentenced Silvey on Tuesday, following her conviction earlier this year of fifty-two fraud related felonies. Silvey was also ordered to pay restitution to her victims.
“The real loss to the victims was the emotional pain they suffered at the hands of Ms. Silvey,” Deputy District Attorney Katharina Wells said. “Jill Silvey victimized her own family and close friends, stealing over two million dollars to keep her Ponzi scheme going while spending the victims’ life savings on lavish personal items.”
Experts say don’t offer or accept cash payments for real estate investments. Use an escrow company to transfer your money to the borrower and make sure you get a recorded deed of trust. Title insurance should confirm that the borrower actually owns the property and if there are any existing liens against the property. A licensed appraiser should report if the property is actually worth enough to protect your investment.
From 2005 to 2011 Silvey convinced at least 20 “investors” (victims) to lend their money to homeowners, in return for monthly interest payments. The loans were supposedly secured by the homes. The homeowners knew nothing of the loans and Silvey forged their signatures. She paid back some of the investors with other investor’s money.
The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office Real Estate Fraud Unit opened an investigation into Silvey in 2012 after being contacted by one of the victims. The investigation uncovered two million dollars worth of bogus loans. Silvey was arrested on June 27, 2012 by the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Investigation Bureau.