Industry News

83-year-old real estate scammer

Man sought in fraud scheme; loss estimated at $9 million

Authorities in California's Contra Costa County are looking for an 83-year-old man suspected of running a real estate scam in which more than 100 investors lost large sums of money. Police believe John Banker, whose whereabouts remain unknown, was involved in fraudulent land deals worth at least $2.5 million. Some estimates put the number as high as $9 million, said Greg Leonard, a detective with the Walnut Creek Police Department. "We believe that there's some type of fraud involved, but we don't know exactly what has transpired," Leonard said. So far, the police know it is a "complex investigation," and one that likely involves between 120 and 150 different groups of investors. Since 1997, Banker, and his partner, Conrad Colbrandt, allegedly told investors that they could buy land from PepsiCo, Deputy District Attorney Steven Bolen said. The investors were told PepsiCo was trying to raise cash by selling off the land their fast-food businesses sat on, Bolen said. Investors believed...