WEST HOLLYWOOD—On Monday, August 2, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that Patrick Joseph Soria, 35, of West Hollywood, was sentenced to 152 months in federal prison for orchestrating a real estate fraud scheme that victimized more than 2,000 homeowners, caused more than $7 million in losses, and involved fraudulent filings that affected the title to properties across the country.

Soria, was sentenced by Judge Dale S. Fischer, who called Soria “a skillful conman who created a very sophisticated scheme.” Judge Fischer also stated, “This is not the largest case I have presided over in terms of dollars, but it is the most brazen and heartless.”

From January 2015 to June 2018, Soria stole money from would-be homebuyers and homeowners through a two-pronged scheme.

Soria hijacked titles to different properties through fraudulent title filings done at county recorders’ offices across the country. To make it appear that he owned the properties he faked the filings, and “sold” the properties to victims who believed they were buying the homes from the true owner. Soria never owned the homes, and instead used the victims’ “purchase” money for his own personal expenses, including stays at luxury hotels, escort services, and Lamborghini and Bentley car rentals.

He convinced homeowners that he could help them with their mortgages, either by taking over their mortgage from their lender or by assisting them with a loan modification. He convinced them he was trying to help them, often befriending them to gain their trust.

Soria convinced homeowners to stop paying their real lender and to start paying him after gaining the victim’s trust. He deceived his victims into believing he had taken over their mortgages through more fraudulent filings. He also falsely lulled victims into doing nothing to protect themselves when they started receiving eviction notices and foreclosure notices. Many of the homeowners lost their properties.

He used company names such as Deutsche Mellon National Asset LLC, and HBSC US, designed to trick the victims into thinking that these companies were real. He also took advantage of the complex mix of trustees, lenders, beneficiaries, and services in the mortgage market in order to make homeowners believe he did in fact own the mortgages and properties.

More than 2,000 individuals were victimized by the scheme. Soria admitted in court documents that the losses totaled more than $7.6 million.

The targeted properties were located nationwide, including in New York, Texas, Nevada, and in the California cities of Beverly Hills, Vernon, Santa Ana, Anaheim, and Yorba Linda.