A former Modesto real estate agent was arrested on suspicion of wire fraud and the theft of Social Security benefits Thursday as he tried to board a plane in Houston, the U.S. attorney's office in Sacramento announced.
Customs and Border Protection agents found a warrant for Kenneth Manuel Martin, 63, as they processed him Thursday at the airport.
Martin is charged with wire fraud in connection with a Guatemalan real estate investment in which investors lost at least $250,000, according to a U.S. attorney's office news release.
The news release says Martin also is charged with stealing more than $108,000 in Social Security disability benefits.
The release states Martin told the Social Security Administration that he had not been working since he became disabled in December 2005, but he operated the Guatemalan real estate investment scheme from December 2005 until August 2008.
Martin was taken into custody and is in jail awaiting an appearance today in U.S. District Court in Houston.
According to the news release, Martin persuaded investors to give him money to fund mortgages for home buyers in Guatemala. He then falsely represented to investors the longevity of the Guatemalan real estate venture, and falsely promised a high rate of return and consistent monthly interest payments.
The release says he claimed that once the mortgages matured, investors would have the option to pull out their principal or continue lending the money to other Guatemalan home buyers.
When investors failed to receive consistent interest payments or could not pull out their investment principal, Martin gave varying and conflicting explanations, the release says.