Rincon Hill condos at center of ‘sophisticated’ scam 

San Francisco prosecutors have charged the owner of a telecommunications company and his lawyer with taking part in a $2.2 million real estate fraud involving three units of the luxury One Rincon Hill condominium tower.

Jay Chandrakant Shah, 45, was arrested by San Francisco police and a host of other authorities at his San Jose ranch Tuesday. Authorities also took attorney Melvin Lee Emerich into custody at the ranch.

Shah and Emerich are alleged to be part of a complex scheme to funnel a $2.2 million loan into the pockets of several entities involved in a “conspiracy of breathtaking scope and sophistication,” according to District Attorney’s Office spokesman Brian Buckelew.

Winston Lum, a former San Francisco tennis instructor, has already been charged for allegedly being the frontman for fraudulently obtaining ownership of the three condos that are valued at a combined $7.5 million. He was arrested in February and remains in custody.

“This all starts to unravel,” police Capt. Al Casciato said, when Shirley Hwang, the real owner of the condos, became suspicious after a new homebuyer package was sent to her but addressed to Lum. And, she was told that someone was trying to gain access to her property.

The men had allegedly put the properties into Lum’s name at the Assessor-Recorder’s Office and then quickly took out loans against the properties, drained the properties of their equity and then laundered the proceeds through shell companies, according to Buckelew.

Shah and Emerich allegedly gave instructions on how to distribute the $2.2 million in loan money to a Nevada company named Martini & Chnoogle and into a confidential Swiss bank account.

A multiagency team led by SFPD inspectors Gregory Ovanessian and Robert Steger is still conducting raids throughout Northern California, seeking evidence involved in the alleged fraud.



Condominium complications

3 One Rincon Hill condos linked to scam

$7.5M Combined value of the three luxury condos

$2.2M Loan acquired on value of condos

$600,000 Sent to Martini & Chnoogle and dispersed

$800,000 Sent to Swiss bank account

$250,000 Paid to Winston Lum

Sources: SFPD, District Attorney’s Office








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