In separate lawsuits, a handful of shell companies that trace to Los Angeles are being sued for creating phony property deeds, posing as the owners of distressed homes.
The fabricated deeds were mainly for single-family homes in Southern California, including homes in West Adams/Baldwin Hills, Pacific Palisades and Huntington Beach. The homes ranged in price from $300,000 to $4 million range, and almost all of them were already in default.
One of the main companies alleged in the fraud, Deutsche Mellon National Asset, operates under a handful of other names including Christiana Wilmington Corp, West H&A, WEST Inc. and CLG PC Capital, according to one of the lawsuits. Deutsche Mellon is accused of filing fake and substitution trust deeds.
Patrick Soria was named in the lawsuits as the manager of Deutsche Mellon, Christiana Wilmington and West H&A.
It is not the first time Deutsche Mellon has come under scrutiny. At least one title insurer has issued warnings that Deutsche Mellon National Asset is not a reputable company. In October 2017, WFG National Title Insurance Company warned against doing business with Deutsche Mellon National Asset. The year before, it also warned about doing business with West Holdings & Acquisitions, West H&A, WEST Inc. and Patrick Soria.
Documents also suggest Deutsche Mellon National Asset filed a false deed for West Covina Village Community Shopping Center in West Covina.
The Deutsche Mellon deed claimed the property was sold at auction on Jan. 19. The deed alleged that the shopping center had a nearly $67 million default. The shopping center, owned by Hassen Real Estate Partnership, was turned over from a receiver in February, and was in foreclosure. But a foreclosure sale was never held, a representative from Hassen Real Estate previously told The Real Deal. The representative for Hassen did not respond to requests for comment, and the no legal action had been filed against Deutsche Mellon in connection with the West Covina mall, records show.
But at least five lawsuits have now been filed against the shell companies; four are in Los Angeles and one is in Orange County. The suits were filed in Superior Court in L.A. and Orange County.
A lawsuit filed by Breckenridge Property Fund alleges that it purchased three parcels at trustee sales. Breckenridge then discovered that shell companies had issued fraudulent deeds, according to the suit. The deeds represented the shell companies as the owners of the properties, which they were not, according to the suit.
In its filing, Breckenridge said that as a result, it was “damaged, in that the market value of the subject properties purchased by Plaintiffs is substantially impaired.”
The lawsuits are asking the deeds to be declared void. Some are also asking for attorneys’ fees and compensation.
Other suits were filed by Nationstar Mortgage, Wells Fargo Bank and Deutsche Bank National Trust.
None of the companies involved in the suits could be reached for comment.