Three OC Residents Charged in Flipping Scheme

Six people, including three from Orange County, are being charged in an alleged real estate fraud scheme that tricked more than a dozen victims out of more than $4 million.

The houses sold to the victims for as much as $45,000 and were said to come with management services and guaranteed rentals, but instead, victims found the properties were uninhabitable, condemned, worthless or nonexistent. The defendants paid about $10,000 for each home that did exist, but some came with tax liens, fines and building code violations.

The scheme, which lasted from mid-2009 through mid-2010, targeted victims through seminars held online and in Orange County, Florida and Texas.

The defendants include Sylvia Melkonian of Laguna Beach, Craig Shults of Huntington Beach and Andrew Wardein of Irvine in addition to two men from Florida and one from Tennessee. All defendants are being charged with at least five counts of wire fraud.

Shult’s attorney has already informed the media that his client plans to plead not guilty to the charges. If convicted, each defendant could face 100 years or more in federal prison.

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