George Kennedy, District Attorney  CONTACT PERSON:
Joseph P. Reader, Deputy District Attorney
Real Estate Fraud Unit
(408) 792-2689   For release on February 17, 2004     DUBLIN POLICE APPREHEND SUSPECT IN MEXICAN REAL ESTATE SCAM   Martin Duane Smith, age 34, appeared for arraignment in Santa Clara County Superior Court today.  Smith was arrested Saturday by Dublin Police and the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office. Smith was wanted by the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office on a $1,000,000 arrest warrant. He is currently charged with two counts of grand theft for taking money from individuals investing in Mexican real estate through Smith. It’s alleged that Smith, acting as their agent, misrepresented the value of the real estate to the unsuspecting victims. Investigative reports indicate that Smith told the sellers in one instance that he was selling property for $230,000 when he was actually selling it for  $310,000. The buyers of the property learned after the fact that the suspect inflated the value and pocketed the difference. Smith is believed to have defrauded sellers and buyers of at least three different properties in this manner.    Although several local attorneys had contacted the District Attorney’s Office on behalf of Smith, the suspect was not willing to surrender himself on the warrant. When confronted by Alameda law enforcement agents, Smith stated that he had a court date to be placed on probation in Santa Clara County on Tuesday, February 17, 2004. In reality, Smith had no court hearing scheduled. Police contacted the Santa Clara County District Attorney investigator assigned to the case, learned the truth, and arrested Smith.   Smith faces up to 5 years and 8 months in prison if convicted of the current charges. The District Attorney’s Office suspects there may be other victims of Smith’s scam who are not currently aware they have been victimized. Anyone who has information about fraud by Smith or has information as to Martin Smith’s assets or income is asked to contact District Attorney Investigator Robert Traskowski at (408) 792-2938.   ###

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