Homes development in Carmel Valley. Courtesy San Diego County Water Authority

A Rancho Cucamonga man was sentenced Monday in San Diego to 24 months in federal prison for his role in a scheme to steal title to Southern California homes and then “sell” the properties to unsuspecting buyers.

From September 2012 until their arrests in November 2014, Daniel Deaibes and his co-conspirators, Mazen Alzoubi and Mohamed Daoud, fraudulently sold or attempted to sell at least 15 homes — collectively worth more than $3.6 million — that actually never belonged to them, prosecutors said.

On at least 10 occasions, the defendants were successful, earning illicit proceeds of nearly $2.2 million, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

As part of his guilty plea in March 2015, the 38-year-old Deaibes admitted that he used aliases to deceive escrow and title officers into believing that he was “John Moran” and was the true owner of property that was being marketed for sale.

In fact, “John Moran” did not exist, and Deaibes and his co-conspirators planned to fraudulently sell the properties, divert the proceeds to their own bank accounts, and then quickly disburse the money overseas, according to prosecutors.

On at least three occasions, Deaibes, posing as “Moran” and presenting a fake driver’s license, appeared before notaries to sign title documents and property deeds.

To make it appear they owned the properties, the defendants generated forged deeds that made it appear the true property owner had sold his or her home to a sham real estate investment business the co-conspirators controlled. In reality, the true owners were entirely unaware of the phony sales.

Alzoubi, 33, the ringleader of the scheme, pleaded guilty in January to aggravated identity theft and is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 7.

Daoud, 53, pleaded guilty in July 2015, admitting that he helped Alzoubi launder the proceeds of the scheme.

In December 2015, while he was awaiting sentencing, Daoud fled the country and is now a fugitive, authorities said.

— City News Service

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