Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
June 15, 2009
Susan Kang Schroeder
HARD MONEY LENDER TO BE ARRAIGNED FOR STEALING OVER $2.5 MILLION FROM INVESTORS IN PONZI AND REAL ESTATE FRAUD SCHEME
SANTA ANA – A “hard money” lender will be arraigned today on charges of stealing over $2.5 million from investors, including an elderly investor, in a Ponzi and real estate fraud scheme. Mark Alan Helsing, 51, Tustin, is charged with 54 felony counts including 41 counts of grand theft, seven counts of filing false recorded documents, six counts of financial exploitation of an elder over 65, and white collar sentencing enhancements for loss over $1 million and $500,000. If convicted on all counts, Helsing faces a maximum sentence up to 46 years in state prison. He is being held on $2.5 million bail and must prove the money is from a legal and legitimate source before posting bail. Helsing is scheduled to be arraigned today, Monday, June 15, 2009, at 1:30 p.m. in Department C-57, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
Between May 2004 and June 2007, Helsing is accused of defrauding several people in a Ponzi and real estate fraud scheme. Helsing is accused of operating as a “hard money lender” for his four Orange County based businesses, Sea View Investments, HLHS Financial Services, Inc., Foothill Realty, and Sea View Mortgage. The term “hard money lender” is used when a lender solicits money from private investors for borrowers looking for funds from non-bank lenders. He is accused of stealing from his private investors by keeping the money they lent for borrowers and not funding the loans as promised. The defendant is accused of supplying the investors with bogus interest payments by taking small sums from their initial investment and providing falsified and forged documents to prevent investors from discovering that the loans had not been repaid. Helsing is accused of not returning and stealing the investors’ initial principal.
Helsing is accused of operating a Ponzi scheme and using funds from new investors to pay off old investors. A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent scheme that offers investors high, short-term returns on investments by using the money from other investors. Instead of using the money to generate actual income and legitimate profits, the money from investors is kept for the benefit of the defendant or used to repay earlier investors.
In December 2008, the Tustin Police Department started an investigation after receiving complaints of checks bouncing from some of Helsing’s investors. Helsing was arrested in court Friday, June 12, 2009, after pleading guilty in an unrelated case (#08CF3304) to six felony counts including grand theft and check fraud.
The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with additional information is encouraged to contact Supervising District Attorney Investigator Ron Frazier at (714) 347-8691 or Tustin Police Detective Gentry Mayfield at (714) 573-3200. Deputy District Attorneys George McFetridge and Tom Schultz of the White Collar Crime Team are prosecuting this case.