The District Attorney’s Office reviews any case where the property is located in Monterey County, or where you pay money to someone where the money changes hands in Monterey County. Cases may be prosecuted criminally, civilly or both. In some situations, your case may be declined if it is determined that it is not appropriate for law enforcement action. By law, we are not allowed to act as your attorney or provide you with legal advice; however, we can assist you with referrals to other agencies.
WHAT IS REAL ESTATE FRAUD?
Real estate fraud is any illegal activity affecting real property. Examples include:
- Someone steals or uses your identity (i.e., name, date of birth, driver’s license, social security number) to buy a home or apply for a home loan without your knowledge.
- Someone forges your signature on a property deed or other document affecting your ownership or “title” in your home.
- Someone tricks you into paying money in advance for services that do not help you or that you do not need.
HOW DO I FILE A COMPLAINT?
- Come to our office located at the Monterey County Courthouse, 1200 Aguajito Road, Room 301, Monterey, CA 93940, or
- Call for a complaint form: (831) 647-7770, or
- Download a (complaint form) online and follow the directions.
** Please note that due to the complexity of real estate fraud cases, we cannot take complaints over the phone.
SIMPLE TIPS TO AVOID REAL ESTATE FRAUD
- Never do business with people who you have never met face-to-face.
- Get a business card and keep it safe.
- Avoid letting people into your home to conduct real estate transactions.
- Do not go to coffee shops or restaurants to conduct business. Legitimate companies have real offices.
- Avoid doing business with strangers you meet on the Internet or at coffee shops, stores, or church who tell you they have a “great business deal” for you.
- Check the names of individuals and companies on the Bureau of Real Estate website (http://www2.dre.ca.gov/PublicASP/pplinfo.asp) or the Department of Business Oversight website (http://www.dbo.ca.gov/Consumers/default.asp) to see if they have complaints against them — do your homework!
- Do not give out your social security number and other personal identifying information until you have thoroughly checked on the individual or company you are doing business with.
- Check out the businesses and individuals you do business with. Five minutes of homework may save your home!
- NEVER pay cash for a real estate transaction. Pay with a check so that your payments can be traced if needed.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
YOUR RIGHTS AS A HOMEOWNER
- California law gives you certain rights. Be sure to follow these simple laws that protect you from fraud.
- You are never required to pay money for a loan modification up front. Be suspicious of anyone who asks you to pay money before they perform all of their services for you.
- Read all documents before you sign them. Be suspicious of anyone who tells you to “just sign” the documents without reading them.
- Ask for and keep safe a copy of everything you sign.