Ceres woman arrested in real estate swindle

A Ceres woman posed as a real estate agent and forged signatures to swipe $80,000 from an unsuspecting Spanish-speaking couple who thought they were buying a Modesto home, an arrest warrant says.

Griselda Flores, 50, was arrested Monday by the Stanislaus County district attorney's real estate fraud unit and charged with grand theft, forgery and impersonating a real estate agent. Bail was set at $25,000.

Flores, who is bilingual, gained the victims' trust over several years while preparing their taxes at her Ceres office, the warrant says. She showed them a few houses and arranged to sell one whose owner faced foreclosure at 2021 Ridgecrest Drive for $98,000, accepting an $80,000 cash down payment, the document says.

The couple believed that Flores would arrange an $18,000 loan for them, they told investigators. Instead, Flores forged receipts to fool them and arranged to buy the home for $80,000 in her name using a 3 percent down payment and a falsified loan application, the document states.

Flores tried to cover her tracks by telling the couple their down payment had been frozen by Santa Clara County authorities, the warrant says. But the victims complained to local fraud investigators who tipped off the lender and title company involved in the transaction, the document states.

A mortgage application analyst last month warned lenders that the risk of mortgage fraud is greater in Stanislaus County than anywhere else in the United States.