A federal grand jury in Santa Ana, Calif., on Wednesday indicted eight defendants in a complex real estate scheme, alleging they fraudulently converted Huntington Beach apartments to condominiums, then sold the properties for substantial profits. In addition to the real estate scheme, the indictment charges four of the defendants, including former Huntington Beach Mayor Pamela Houchen, with corruption for allegedly concealing Houchen's ownership of an apartment building in a redevelopment district where she was prohibited from owning property. Fraud is a growing problem in the real estate industry, with more cases coming to the surface in recent years. Perpetrators often are professional real estate agents, mortgage brokers, title agents, appraisers and attorneys. The complex crimes can cost financial companies millions of dollars in losses and litigation expenses, and can leave consumers with destroyed credit. The Huntington Beach case is part of an ongoing investigation conducted ...
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