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Californians charged with runnng $6M home-selling scam

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A brother and sister from Southern California have been charged with running a $6 million scheme in which they sold homes to buyers without the owners’ consent.

Adolfo Schoneke, 43, of Torrance, and Bianca Gonzalez, 38, of Walnut, were arrested Tuesday and pleaded not guilty to conspiracy, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office.

The two and others allegedly ran a number of real estate and escrow companies that would offer properties for sale at below-market prices “even though many, in fact, were not for sale, and they did not have authority to list them,” the statement said.

Schoneke and Gonzalez used other people’s brokerage licenses to list the homes on real estate websites and accepted multiple offers for the same home, prosecutors contend.

“The co-conspirators allegedly were able to string along the victims – sometimes for years – by telling them closings were being delayed because lenders needed to approve the purported short sales,” the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Several hundred buyers were conned out of more than $6 million, authorities allege.

Schoneke and Gonzalez each could face sentences of up to 162 years in federal prison if convicted.

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