SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — More than four dozen real estate speculators and two companies nationwide have been charged with illegally fixing foreclosure auctions in three states.
Working in concert, the would-be buyers would appoint just one person to bid on each property on the auction block, thus securing the "winning" bid. Minutes after the official proceeding was over, they would then conduct an auction among themselves, often on the same courthouse steps. The difference in price would be divvied up among the conspirators.
Most cases originated in California, the state with the highest foreclosure rate during the financial crisis. Nearly identical rings were also broken up in Raleigh, N.C., and Mobile, Ala.