SAN DIEGO (CN) – The Attorney General’s office said it has busted a statewide foreclosure scam that promised that homeowners could avoid foreclosure by deeding their property to a fraudulent company through a federal land grant, a transaction that hasn’t been recognized since the Mexican-American War.
Homeowners transferred at least 345 properties to Federal Land Grant Co., run by Bill Hutchings, his wife Xiaoke Li, and Hutchings’ ex-wife, Shawna Landis, state prosecutors say. At least 60 homeowners lost their homes through foreclosure sales.
The company held weekly seminars, where Hutchings, Li and Landis persuaded homeowners to pay up to $10,000 to deed their property to the company in a supposedly protective grant, then pay rent to stay in their homes, prosecutors said.
The company showed homeowners surveys from an 1872 Spanish land grant, claiming that the home deeds reinstated the land grant, which would stave off foreclosure.
Attorney General Jerry Brown issued a restraining order and froze the company’s assets. FBI agents arrested Hutchings, Li, and two alleged co-conspirators. Landis is still at large.
Here are the defendants: FLG Co. LLC, Land Grant Services, KBS Resources, William J. Hutchings, Xiaoke Li, Landis Business Services, and Shawna M. Landis.