FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—October 4, 2019
Contacts: Sgt. Enrik Melgoza, 510-621-1598
Alicia Moore, 510-621-1597
Scott Alonso, 925-957-8638 (office), 925-536-8110 (cell)
San Pablo Woman Indicted by Grand Jury for 42 Criminal Counts in Widespread Real Estate Fraud Case
Martinez, Calif. – Today, a grand jury indictment was unsealed against Mercedes Gonzales, a 25-year-old resident of San Pablo. The allegations in the indictment detail repeated criminal conduct committed by Gonzales against unsuspecting victims desiring to rent a house or room in West Contra Costa County, Sonoma County and Solano County.
In total there are 23 victims associated with the indictment. Gonzales was also charged in a criminal complaint filed earlier this week about a recent allegation of grant theft and receiving stolen property involving two victims. Overall, the prosecution was aided as a result of a joint investigation by the Richmond Police Department and the District Attorney’s Special Operations Division, Real Estate Fraud Unit. The Vallejo Police Department also assisted during the investigation and arrested the defendant last weekend.
In the spring of 2019, the Richmond Police Department received numerous complaints from victims about a real estate scam. An investigation was underway and ultimately the defendant was arrested and charged. During the summer additional information came to light about more allegations of fraud against more victims.
During late 2018 and throughout 2019, the defendant showed houses available for rent and posted about the listings on social media in Spanish. She would use an alias to post the listing on social media, including Facebook, and claimed she worked at Kaiser in Richmond. However, the defendant did not own or have the authority to rent the unit. The victims in turn paid the defendant in cash, money orders and cashier’s checks. Gonzales created fictitious rental agreements with the victims and collected deposits.
Gonzales appeared in-custody for an arraignment in Department 3 of the Contra Costa County Superior Court before the Honorable Patricia Scanlon. She pleaded not guilty to the charges alleged in the indictment. She is in custody and her bail is $540,000.
The investigations related to the alleged fraudulent activities committed by Gonzales is active and going. Members of the public with any information related to the defendant should call Richmond Police Department Sergeant Tong at 510-620-6668.
Deputy District Attorney Kristina McCosker is the prosecutor assigned to the case on behalf of the People. DDA McCosker is with our Special Operations Division, Real Estate Fraud Unit.
“The District Attorney’s Office Real Estate Fraud Unit cautions any member of the public when viewing a rental property. Please ensure that you see the entire property inside and outside as well as checking rental and sales websites to confirm no one else is listing the unit,” stated DDA McCosker. “Any suspicious activity can be reported to our Fraud Unit at 866-223-7283 in English or Spanish.”
Case information: People v. Mercedes Alexis Gonzales, Docket Number 05-191863-0 and People v. Mercedes Alexis Gonzales, Docket Number 01-191503-2.