InvestmentsMortgageReal Estate

California man charged with running $20 million real estate Ponzi scheme

Allegedly lied to investors about real estate deals

A California man stands accused of bilking investors out of $20 million by running a real estate Ponzi scheme.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California announced late last week that Seth Depiano was arrested in Las Vegas and charged with mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering.

According to court documents, Depiano operated a Ponzi scheme that attracted real estate investors and convince them to give to him and the businesses he controlled, which included The Rental Group, U.S. Funding and Home Services, and Draymond Homes, more than $20 million.

Depiano allegedly fraudulently promised investors that he would use the money to purchase residential properties and either turn the properties into rentals or renovate and resell the properties.

Court documents showed that in many cases, Depiano allegedly falsely represented to the investors that the properties had high occupancy rates.

According to court documents, Depiano often had no authority to purchase or sell the properties in question and allegedly lied to the investors using fraudulent documents misrepresenting the properties’ ownership.

Court documents also showed that some of the properties Depiano marketed to his investors did actually exist.

Depiano allegedly paid his investors the supposed “rental income,” but the money was actually funds that other investors had given him for investment purposes.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Depiano faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison for the mail fraud and wire fraud charges, 10 years in prison for money laundering, and a $250,000 fine.

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