California siblings are accused of a real-estate scam after allegedly listing homes for sale without the consent of the owner, resulting in several millions of dollars worth of sales.
On Tuesday, 43-year-old Adolfo Schoneke and his sister, 38-year-old Bianca Gonzalez, also known as Blanca Schoneke, pleaded not guilty to the case. Authorities gave the siblings nine charges, including one count of conspiracy, seven counts of wire fraud, and one count of aggravated identity theft.
Officials said there were several hundred victims who got their homes sold without their knowledge. The case collectively took more than $6 million from the victims.
The indictment said the two suspects operated real estate and escrow companies based in Cerritos, La Palma, and Long Beach with the help of co-conspirators. The agencies were listed under eight different names, including MCR and West Coast.
Authorities believe the suspects and their associates committed wire fraud from May 2014 up until December 2016. Schoneke and Gonzalez allegedly listed properties that were not theirs on the Multiple Listing Service. The two used other people’s broker’s license to set the price below market value.
The incident enticed potential buyers to purchase the homes quickly. The suspects then found a way to trick homeowners into letting interested buyers tour the homes. Some of the incidents included homes that were not for sale. Some of the homes were listed as sight-unseen favorable sales opportunities and short sales.
Schoneke and Gonzalez were able to trick some victims for years, saying lenders were still working on the approval of the short sale, NBC News reported.
Authorities set the trial date for the siblings’ case for June 1. They scheduled hearings for Friday for Schoneke and April 13 for Gonzalez. The two suspects could each face up to 162 years in federal prison if convicted of all charges.