The I-Team has been looking for Larry Smith for quite some time.
When we found him, he refused to talk to us. But we know this confidence man has no problem talking to his victims. There are hundreds of them in Southern California. Victims like Mili Alto, who attended a Smith sales presentation in downtown San Diego.
Mili said, "According to him and everybody this was the solution."
Smith's solution is land patents; he claims these patents would prevent homeowners from losing their homes through foreclosure.
Smooth-talking Smith sold it with a promise; as Mili told us, "No agency, no mortgage company, no government, no IRS would take it from you."
It's been nine months since she paid Smith $6,000 cash for her land patent. Now, Mili is losing her home.
Nelda Solis is another one of Larry Smiths victims. She said, "I'm stupid because I gave my money to them and now I am hopeless."
Nelda and a group of women who all lost money to Smith approached the I-Team to try and stop Smith; they are all in the same situation.
It took us weeks, but we find Smith and a group of real estate professionals who work with him. He is unwilling to admit who he is or what he is doing.
Smith said, "I don't agree to be on camera."
A woman with Smith is identified as Candi Cappa, his girlfriend. She is a Chulas Vista real estate agent who victims said helped Smith with the land patents.
Cappa tells us though that she is just an interested audience member for Smith's latest presentation.
We ask, "Can you tell us anything about the land patent?"
She said, "We're here to listen, too."
The I-Team paid unannounced visits to all of Smith's known associates. In our investigation we have learned these realtors and loan officers work for At Home Consulting Group, with offices in Oceanside and Chula Vista. Every single one of them has disappeared.
Victims suspect they have left the country.
We bring what we know to the FBI, and an agent told 10News, "There is a chance the individuals will be brought to justice that we will open an investigation and be successfull ... but when you look at it is that a solution to someone who has just lost a lot of money?"
The women we interviewed will likely never see their money again. It is a terrible thing to happen to anyone -- losing their homes and being swindled while trying to save them.
Land patents cannot help distressed homeowners, experts said.
"It is a false claim," said Steve Robinson from the Economic Crimes Division of the District Attorneys office.
"... a fiction that has been made up by people to justify separating folks from their hard earned money," Robinson said. "The one thread you will see in all these scams is the promise to solve the foreclosure problem by taking money up front."
We have discovered Larry Smith is not alone.
There are copycats, as we found at a trustee sale on the steps of the Riverside County Courthouse.
We came across a man and a woman working the crowd, offering to sell land patents.
They call themselves a home owner advocacy group.
They ran away when we tried to speak with them.
These swindlers are preying on desperate homeowners, about to lose their homes
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