Two women say they are guilty of using a real estate investment fraud scheme to cheat 21 victims out of almost $3 million.

Lynn Eichenberger (left) and Loan Thituong Nguyen.
Loan Thituong Nguyen, 46, of Westminster and Lynn Eichenberger, 45, of Chatsworth, accepted a plea deal from Orange County Superior Court Judge Kazuharu Makino, who promised not to exceed a sentence of six years in prison, according to Deputy District Attorney Pete Pierce.

Sentencing was set for Feb. 19 after Friday’s guilty pleas, giving probation officials enough time to prepare a report on the defendants’ suitability for probation and for the women to make an effort at paying restitution to the victims, which could help spare them time behind bars, Pierce said.

So far, Nguyen has paid $150,000 in restitution and her insurance company has paid about $300,000, Pierce said. Eichenberger has not made any restitution payments, Pierce said.

Nguyen could have faced 22 years and eight months in prison if convicted at trial. Eichenberger faced a maximum of 23 years and four months behind bars.

Nguyen, a licensed real estate broker, managed Suncoast Mortgage Corp. and Suncoast Investment Realty, and Eichenberger recruited clients to give them money to invest in foreclosed properties to which they had no claims, prosecutors said.

Victims were told their money was going toward paying half of the balance owed on a property’s mortgage, prosecutors said.

When clients confronted the defendants because there was no return on their investments, the two would say the deal fell through, according to prosecutors, who said the scheme was operated between August and December 2009.

— City News Service

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