Mark Alan Helsing, Hard Money Lending Ponzi Scammer, Gets 15 Years and Restitution Looms

"Hard money lender" Mark Alan Helsing was sentenced today to 15 years in state prison and three years of probation for stealing $6.9 million from investors in a Ponzi and real estate fraud scheme.

The Tustin 53-year-old will also have to come up with restitution, which is to be determined at a later date.

Between May 2004 and June 2007, Helsing defrauded a dozen people as as a broker for hard money lenders through his four Orange County based businesses: Sea View Investments, HLHS Financial Services, Inc., Foothill Realty, and Sea View Mortgage. Hard money lenders provide loans to borrowers with funds from private investors rather than banks.

Many of Helsing's private investors were long-time friends, but instead of lending the funds to borrowers, he used small amounts for bogus interest payments and forged documents to hide his deceit. He then embezzled the rest of the money, failing to return the investors' initial principal.

The Tustin Police Department launched an investigation in December 2008 after some of Helsing's victims bounced checks. He was arrested in court on June 12, 2009, after pleading guilty in an unrelated case to six felony counts, including grand theft and check fraud.

On Oct. 3, Helsing pleaded guilty to another 55 felony counts of grand theft, seven felony counts of filing false recorded documents, six felony counts of elder financial exploitation, and sentencing enhancements for white collar crime over $500,000 and excessive taking over $1 million and $1.3 million.

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