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  Police Department
1/9/2009 - Suspects wanted in foreclosure fraud scheme

foreclosure suspectsSan Diego County District Attorney Bonnie M. Dumanis today asked for the public’s help in locating three outstanding suspects wanted on charges of grand theft in connection with a foreclosure fraud scam that gained national attention. The three are part of a group of people in San Diego County who are charged with defrauding homeowners out of more than $100,000. Arrest warrants have been issued for Julita Whittingham, 47; Jessica Refuerzo, 55; and Edgardo Orcino, 57.

“The victims in this case were desperate to save their homes from foreclosure,” said DA Dumanis. “They were preyed upon by these con artists, who promised help but instead stole their money.”

Two other suspects in the case are already in custody, including Larry Smith, 60. He has been charged with grand theft and conspiracy. If convicted, he faces 37 years to life in prison. Smith and his accomplices sold “land patents” to homeowners facing foreclosure. He falsely told them the patents would make them a sovereign nation and protect them because the banks would not own the land or be able to come onto their property.

At least 17 victims have lost tens of thousands of dollars in the real estate scheme. The District Attorney’s investigation is ongoing. Anyone who knows the whereabouts of the three suspects is asked to call (619) 572-3566.

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