Some people take candy. Some hot-wire cars. But authorities say an Inland Empire couple nearly pulled off the ultimate theft.
They claim that 45-year-old Emma Adel and 39-year-old Mazen Fazah of Rancho Cucamonga stole and entire house. If the allegation weren't so egregious, you'd have to be impressed by the size and scope of this alleged residential caper.
The pair not only took a home's title, say San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office prosecutors, they turned around and sold the place for $444,802!
Lucky for humanity, the residence was vacant when the suspects did their alleged deed, prosecutors said in a statement this week.
Here's how a D.A.'s statement describes what Adel and Fazah allegedly did it:
In June 2014, Adel and Fazah allegedly unlawfully acquired a vacant house in Rancho Cucamonga and forged the names of the owner and notary public on the grant deed. Next, they transferred the property into their own business called “Perking’s Trust.” According to Vega, shortly after recording the false grant deed with the County Recorder, the pair deceived the escrow and title companies and sold the house to an unsuspecting buyer for over $440,000.
The pair was arrested late last month by the D.A.s Real Estate Fraud Unit. They were locked up at the West Valley Detention Center based on the felony real estate fraud case, prosecutors said.
Law enforcers served search warrants at an Upland business, Smart Edge Auto, connected to the case, the D.A.'s office said. More than one home belonging to the defendants was raided, too, authorities said.
The duo was ultimately charged with 22 counts related to the alleged swindle, including suspicion of forgery, identity theft, dealing in false financial instruments, grand theft of personal property, conspiracy, and money laundering, according to a felony complaint (embedded above).
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The pair pleaded not guilty to all counts. Another hearing in the case is scheduled for Dec. 22.
Authorities say even more charges against the duo could be forthcoming out of both San Bernardino and Riverside counties.
If prosecutors are successful, the defendants could be calling prison their home for years to come.