Bids rigged in California property auctions

Two real estate brokers among six entering guilty pleas to date

Six people, including two licensed real estate brokers, have pleaded guilty to conspiring to rig bids at public foreclosure auctions in San Joaquin County, Calif.

Prosecutors said the conspirators would designate a bidder at public auctions in order to keep prices low. After the designated bidder bought a property at a public auction, the group would hold a second, private auction, where each conspirator would bid what they were actually willing to pay.

The highest bidder at the private auction won the property. The difference between the rigged bid at the public auction and the high bid at the private auction was divided among the conspirators — an "illicit profit," prosecutors said.