California

This Bay Area real estate agent promised clients home loans. He faces fraud charges

These are some of the issues behind California’s housing crisis

California's housing crisis is due in large part to a lack of supply, particularly when it comes to affordable housing, and it is hitting low-income individuals the hardest.
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California's housing crisis is due in large part to a lack of supply, particularly when it comes to affordable housing, and it is hitting low-income individuals the hardest.

A Bay Area real estate agent was indicted Wednesday on charges of fraud and money laundering after allegedly promising home loans to clients then taking their money.

Min Jin Zhao, 56, of San Francisco was accused of working with prospective home buyers in the Bay Area between 2014 and 2015 and offering them a fraudulent loan program that would allow them to finance cash offers on homes, according to a news release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California.

Zhao’s alleged scheme involved asking clients to wire or deposit 10 percent to 20 percent of the home price into a bank account managed by Portfolio Consulting, Inc., which would then provide the rest of the necessary funds, according to the release.

Once the victims transferred their money, Zhao is alleged to have used their funds for personal expenses or transferred the money elsewhere, according to the release.

Zhao was arrested in San Francisco on Tuesday and posted bond shortly afterward. His next court date is set for Sept. 11.

He faces up to 20 years in prison plus a $250,000 fine for each of his five counts of fraud and an additional 10 years in prison plus another $250,000 fine for his single count of money laundering.

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