Home News A South Bay man accepted hundreds of offers from open houses. But the homes weren’t for sale

A South Bay man accepted hundreds of offers from open houses. But the homes weren’t for sale

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Torrance’s Adolfo Schoneke was sentenced to nine years in prison for a scheme involving a fake open house of a not-for-sale home that earned him about $12 million. Above, an unrelated open house in Los Angeles. (Alison Dinner/Getty Images)

Like regular real estate and escrow agents in the hot Southern California housing market, Adolfo Schoeneke and his sister Bianca Gonzalez hosted an open house and accepted bids for multiple homes.

The brothers and others ran real estate companies in Cerritos, La Palma and Long Beach.

However, there was a problem. The house they showed me was not for sale.

In reality, the home was a cover for a scheme that cost hundreds of victims more than $6 million, federal prosecutors said this week.

Now Schoeneke, Gonzalez, and the co-conspirators face prison sentences for their scheme.

Schoneke, 45, of Torrance, was sentenced Monday to nine years in prison after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in May, according to the Central District of California U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Gonzalez, 39, pleaded guilty to his role in wire fraud in April and is expected to be sentenced in May.

“Playing with the dream of owning a home and the price of a home that seems out of reach. [Schoneke] He figured out how to “sell” a house he didn’t own and had no business to sell,” prosecutors wrote in the judgment memo.

Schoeneke and others found properties for sale, listed them on real estate websites, and pitched them as short-sale opportunities, regardless of whether the owner intended to sell them or not, according to prosecutors.

“In some cases, homes were sold through open houses arranged by tricking homeowners and residents into allowing them to use their homes,” prosecutors said.

Multiple offers were accepted for the property, but each buyer was told that their offer was the only offer accepted.

Each “purchase” was delayed, sometimes years, as buyers were told that the sale required approval.

The prosecution said, “The company employee opened a bank account to hide the co-conspirator’s involvement in the fraud.

The buyer will, in some cases, remit the full amount of the intended purchase price to the account.

“The co-conspirators instructed employees to withdraw large amounts of cash from these accounts, making it difficult to track the proceeds,” prosecutors said.

Mario Gonzalez, 51 (unrelated to Bianca Gonzalez), pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in a related case in 2019 and is expected to be sentenced in April.

In total, Schoeneke and others raised about $12 million from about 750 victims.

Some of the victims were paid off, but about 400 people ended up losing more than $6 million on the scheme. Schoneke’s return hearing is scheduled for his December.

This story originally appeared los angeles times.

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