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Torrance man sentenced to 9 years for his role in $6 million real estate scam – Daily Breeze


A Torrance man who participated in a $6 million real estate scam that listed homes for sale without owners’ consent and collected money from prospective buyers was sentenced Monday, Oct. 24, to nine years in federal prison.

Adolfo Schoneke, 45, pleaded guilty in May to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office. His sister and a co-conspirator, Bianca Gonzalez, 39, of Walnut, pleaded guilty in April to the same charge and is scheduled to be sentenced on May 22, 2023.

Schoneke, his sister and other co-conspirators operated real estate and escrow companies based in Cerritos, La Palma and Long Beach under various names, including MCR and West Coast Realty Services. The group found properties they would then list for sale despite that many were not on the market, nor did they have authority to list them.

The properties were listed on real estate websites and marketed as short sale opportunities at below-market prices.

In some cases, the homes were marketed through open houses arranged by tricking homeowners or occupants into allowing their homes to be used.

Victims were led to believe their offers were the only one accepted when in reality, multiple offers were accepted for the properties that were not actually for sale.

The co-conspirators strung victims along – sometimes for years – by telling them closings were being delayed because lenders needed to approve the purported short sales.

Bank accounts were opened by office workers to hide the co-conspirators’ involvement in the fraud, using the accounts to receive down payments on the homes and other payments from victims who were convinced to transfer the full “purchase price” after receiving forged short sale approval letters.

The office workers were also directed to withdraw large sums of cash from the accounts, making it harder to trace the proceeds.

Schoneke and his co-conspirators collected more than $11.7 million from about 750 victims as part of the scheme, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office. Although some of the victims were paid back, the scheme caused more than $6 million in losses to nearly 400 victims.

A restitution hearing is scheduled for Dec. 12.

A co-conspirator, Mario Gonzalez, 50, was charged in a related case and pleaded guilty in January 2019 to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. His sentencing is scheduled on April 3, 2023.

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