Among eight Northern California real estate investors who have pleaded guilty to rigging public foreclosure auctions are Laith Salma, Patrick Campion, Keith Goodman and Craig Lipton, all of San Francisco.
The men agreed not to bid against each other for foreclosed properties auctioned off outside the county courthouse in Redwood City and in San Francisco County. Instead, they kept the winning price low which, in turn, federal prosecutors say, damaged the real estate market and defrauded those expecting a fair marketplace.
When property is auctioned, the proceeds pay off the mortgage and debt with any remaining money going to the homeowner. Squelching competitive bids limits how much money is available for both.
The men used the U.S. mail and Federal Express to send the Trustee’s Deeds Upon Sale and other title documents to others in the conspiracy, leading to the mail fraud charges.
For their roles, the investors face up to a decade in federal prison for violating the antitrust law known as the Sherman Act and up to 30 years for conspiring to commit mail fraud, the DOJ announced yesterday.