1:28 PM AKST, November 24, 2012
HARBOR CITY (KTLA) -- A real estate broker has been charged with three counts of grand theft in connection with a scheme that officials say defrauded clients more than $600,000.
According to Lomita Sheriff's officials, 57-year-old Mario Hernandez used his company, OPM Capital Group, Inc. as a front for a tax preparation service that he did not have proper certification for.
Between March and December of 2007, Hernandez allegedly convinced three clients to invest funds from their 401K accounts into his company and promised they would receive returns as much as 20 percent.
Hernandez also told clients that he was a Certified Public Accountant and a former employee of the Internal Revenue Service.
Investigators found that Hernandez instead spent his clients' money on gifts and loans to family members, mortgage payments on several properties, payments to previous investors and on personal business expenses.
He also allegedly told two of his clients that he would make payments on their mortgage accounts from their investment proceeds, but when his funds were depleted in 2008, their homes went into foreclosure.
The investigation also revealed that the acronym in his company name stood for "Other People's Money."
Charges were filed against Hernandez in October and he was arrested at his Harbor City home in early November. He is scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 18.
Anyone with information is asked to contact detectives at (562) 233-8204.