Bentley and gold coins seized at Zepeda brothers' home

Bentley and gold coins seized at Zepeda brothers' home (Photos: San Diego District Attorney)

SAN DIEGO -- Two brothers are accused in a $1.5 million real estate fraud scheme that targeted hundreds of victims across Southern California.

David Zepeda, 57, and John Zepeda, 59, are charged with 104 felony counts that include identity theft, forgery, grand theft, rent skimming and conspiracy, according to the San Diego District Attorney's office.

Prosecutors say the brothers stole the identities of several notaries in San Diego and forged hundreds of deeds to properties already in foreclosure.

Once the Zepedas acquired title to properties by forging a quitclaim deed or persuading the homeowner to transfer the property to them, they would rent out the property, prosecutors say. Then, the brothers would file bankruptcy petitions to forestall the foreclosure process and collect rent for a longer period.

Investigators say the brothers bought gold coins, silver bullion, watches, expensive jewelry, a Bentley and other high-end cars with the proceeds from the fraud.

The scam started some time in 2006 and continued through this year, according to District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.

The brothers were based in San Bernardino, living in a house that was acquired as part o the scheme.

The extensive fraud occurred in Ventura, Los Angeles, Riverside, Santa Barbara, San Diego and San Bernardino counties. Victims in Clark County, Nevada were also found.

The scheme involved about 300 victims but prosecutors say they believe there may be more.

Anyone who may have been victimized in the scam is asked to call the San Diego District Attorney's office.