The owner of an Irvine real estate firm was arrested Wednesday on an indictment alleging he led a house-flipping scheme that bilked 25 victims out of $2 million, according to the FBI.
Daniel Benjamin Vazquez Sr. is accused of using investors’ money to renovate his home, buy luxury cars and sports club memberships and make credit card payments, in addition to pocketing some of the money.
He is charged with two counts of mail fraud and eight counts of wire fraud in the indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Santa Ana on April 25.
The FBI did not immediately find Vazquez when an arrest warrant was issued for the former Ladera Ranch resident, who also faces a Securities and Exchange Commission complaint filed in January in connection with his operation of Hoplon Financial Group and the New Economic Opportunities Fund I, LLC, or Neon.
He was arrested by Tustin police last month on unrelated drug charges, and the FBI picked him up when he was released from the Orange County Jail, according to the federal agency.
Beginning in at least 2010 and continuing through 2014, Vazquez sold investments to individuals who were told their money would be used to purchase, renovate and sell properties in order to generate returns, and that they would be paid returns on their investments no less frequently than twice a year, according to the indictment.
Vazquez falsely told investors that his own compensation would be limited to small percentages of investor capital and return on investment, and other nominal fees, and that he would pay expenses and overhead, according to the indictment, which alleges more than $917,000 “in net proceeds from the sale of the properties by Neon and defendant Vazquez was never distributed to investors, but was instead diverted to Hoplon and defendant Vazquez.”
Most of his alleged victims were investing retirement funds, according to the FBI.
If convicted of the charges in the indictment, Vazquez faces a statutory maximum sentence of 200 years in prison.