Want another reason to make sure you are working with the right Orange County realtor? Real estate fraud. For the third year in a row, California’s Legislative Analyst’s Office reported that Orange County law enforcement agencies investigated the most real estate fraud cases (among the state’s most-populated counties) for the fiscal year 2011-2012.

This data comes from a report produced by the Analyst’s Office and covers California counties that participate in the ‘Real Estate Fraud Prosecution Trust Fund Program,’ Orange County being one of them. Enacted by the Legislature in 1995, this program allows counties to charge a small fee for the filing of certain real estate documents, with the proceeds supporting the fight against real estate fraud. The fees were upped from $2 to $3 in 2009.

Under the conditions of the law, the district attorneys of participating counties are required to file an annual report with their county board of supervisors and the LAO listing the number of real estate fraud cases filed. In the last fiscal year, Orange County investigated 340 cases of real estate fraud. In second place was LA County, with 234 cases investigated. The good news is that fraud cases are decreasing, down from 414 cases in Orange County in 2010-2011.

The OC District Attorney’s Office places a lot of blame on the loan-mod mills, which have been sprouting up all over the place since the real estate market crashed a few years ago. Many of these loan-mod companies offer distressed homeowners a loan modification but end up just taking off with the homeowners’ money. According to the DA’s Office, investigators have found that some people who work in these mills used to be involved with selling toxic loans before the mortgage crisis in 2008. Yet another reason to make sure you are working with an Orange County real estate agent who has recommendations for loan officers and mortgage companies you can trust.

Your Orange County realtor should have a list of trusted professionals, from loan officers to handymen, that she or he has worked with and whom you can rely on to perform honest, solid work. When buying an Orange County home, make sure you are placing your hard-earned money and trust in the right hands.

For more Orange County real estate news and happenings, follow Cheryl on Twitter @CherylSellsOC or check her out on Facebook at CherylSellsOrangeCounty.

Cheryl Marquis has been an active and successful real estate agent in South Orange County, California for more than 25 years. As a TOP PRODUCER in her company, Cheryl has received the specific accreditation of a Certified Relocation Specialist (CRS) and Accredited Buyers Agent (ABR) and is a member of the Who’s Who of Luxury Real Estate, a select network of the world’s leading luxury home agents. Cheryl is a member of C.A.R. (California Association of Realtors), N.A.R. (National Association of Realtors) and O.C.A.R. (Orange County Association of Realtors). To talk to Cheryl about buying or selling a home in Orange County, call her at 949.683.1501 or visit her online at www.CherylSellsOC.com