FRAUD LAWSUITS / Business, Investment & Real Estate SCHEMES International Fraud / EMBEZZLEMENT / Financial Elder Abuse
David L. Fleck
Mr. Fleck represents victims of business, real estate, and investment fraud in lawsuits to recover their money, property, and dignity.
Mr. Fleck prosecuted felonies and complex financial crimes at the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office for 10 years. The people, whom he prosecuted, committed a wide variety of frauds, including business, real estate, investment, insurance, and loan fraud as well as identity theft and money laundering. Since 2009, he has represented people and companies in civil lawsuits to recover money and property after their business partners lied to and cheated them. When called upon, he also represents people who have been accused wrongfully of fraud. His clients have come from the United States, China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, Iran, Hungary, Romania, Armenia and the Ukraine.
Mr. Fleck can provide legal training to his clients and their employees. His interactive teaching style leaves audiences asking for more. He honed his instructional skills as a college professor when he taught paralegals about litigation. He has provided training and presentations to diverse audiences that include fraud detectives, the Mortgage Bankers Association, the International Association of Financial Crimes Investigators, the American Conference Institute, the Federal Mortgage Fraud Working Group, Fannie Mae, the National Notary Association, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and three major financial institutions including one of the big four banks. He helped develop the class that is currently used to teach detectives how to investigate mortgage loan fraud.
He loves to travel to his clients' homelands, enjoy their traditional foods, and savor local coffee, beer, and wine.
- UCLA School of Law, JD, 1997
- University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), BA (International Relations), 1994
- Universität Wien (immersive exchange program), 1991-1992
- The State Bar of California
- California State Courts
- United States District Court, Central District of California
- United States District Court, Northern District of California
- United States District Court, Eastern District of California
- United States District Court, Southern District of California
- Previously admitted pro hac vice to United States District Courts in Florida, Georgia, New York, Minnesota and Arizona
- The State Bar of California
- Los Angeles County Bar Association
- The Esquire Network (TEN)™
*Please make the Professional Affiliations hyperlinks.
Ms. Gutierrez is a trial lawyer and civil litigator. She primarily represents two types of victims in civil lawsuits:
- Premises liability cases: She represents victims of injuries that occurred on somebody else’s property. These include animal attacks such as dog bites, slips and falls, inadequate maintenance, defective conditions, and incidents that cause a wrongful death.
- Business, investment, and real estate fraud cases: She represents people whose business partners have intentionally mislead and cheated them.
Formerly, as a deputy district attorney in Sacramento County, Ms. Gutierrez criminally prosecuted adults and juveniles who committed serious felonies and misdemeanors. She handled two dozen jury trials involving a wide variety of cases involving stalking, assault and battery, burglary, robbery, possession and sale of narcotics, unlawful possession and use of weapons, driving under the influence, and I.D. theft. She also negotiated the settlement of innumerable criminal cases.
In 2008, she brought her experience in criminal trials and negotiations to the battlefield of civil litigation. Since then she has handled premises liability cases involving homeowner’s associations, landlord tenant issues, habitability, slips and falls, wrongful death and other personal injury allegations.
She puts her clients at ease with the toughness of a seasoned trial lawyer and the nuanced skill of an experienced negotiator.
- Lincoln Law School, JD, 2004
- University of California, San Diego (UCSD), BS (Political Science), 1999
- The State Bar of California
- California State Courts
- The State Bar of California
- Philippine Bar Association
- The Esquire Network (TEN)™
In its simplest form, fraud is defined as a lie. People lie because they want a different outcome than the truth would cause. The liar uses untruth to manipulate his target and create a more desirable result. The lie might be verbal or in writing. It might be a forged signature or forged document. It might also be an omission of critical information. Each of these examples can cause a person (the target of the lie) to make decisions that they would not make if they knew the truth. That is fraud.
If you are a victim of fraud, there is good news and bad news. Fraud lawsuits can be easy to win. The reason for this is that once we prove to the jury that the perpetrator lied, the jury will no longer believe his excuses and explanations. The bad news is that, while the purpose of the lawsuit is to recover stolen funds, fraudsters typically spend the stolen money as quickly as it comes in. This means, it can be very hard to recover stolen funds from a perpetrator. Instead, we usually have to look for other parties who negligently (accidentally) enabled the perpetrator to commit the fraud. In almost all instances of fraud, we can find such enablers because con-artists usually cannot accomplish their schemes alone. Instead, they use their skills of persuasion to convince otherwise good people to violate their duties to you. These enablers can include attorneys, escrow officers, real estate agents and brokers, investment brokers, bankers, valuation experts, certified public accounts, and others. In a typical fraud lawsuit, we will sue both the con-artist and the enablers.
Business disputes often arise when one party fails to meet their obligations under the terms of a contract or the parties disagree about the meaning of a contract. While most civil litigators can handle a lawsuit regarding the terms of a contract, where our firm differs from others is in our background, training, and experience as criminal prosecutors. The business disputes we litigate typically involve a party who never intended to meet their obligations from the beginning or a party who used the formality of a contract to hide blatant theft from his or her business partner. The fact patterns in our cases typically have the potential to be investigated and prosecuted by law enforcement because one of the parties committed criminal fraud.
Embezzlement is a subset of fraud. It is unique among fraud crimes in that the perpetrator initially had lawful possession of the money that they then stole. The typical example is a bookkeeper who has access to the finances of a business. At some point, the bookkeeper needs some extra money to pay his or her personal expenses, so they take some money from the employer. Initially, they intended to pay the money back, but it was easy and nobody noticed. They never pay it back and they take more money, in increasing amounts.For a better understanding of investment fraud, read the description under “Fraud Lawsuits.”
Anybody can be a victim of fraud. Con-artists seek out targets with whom they can easily establish a rapport because the victims must trust the con-artists before they part with their money. Elderly folks can be more susceptible to fraud for many reasons, but the primary reason seems to be that they are forced to rely upon and trust other people as their physical abilities decline and mental acumen wains. Caregivers often have unfettered access to the elder’s finances, which makes the elders easy targets.
Under California law, an elder is defined as a person who is 65-years-old or older, at which point there are additional legal protections for them. For a better understanding of fraud, read the description under “Fraud Lawsuits.”
As you can see from the world map under the subject heading “International Clients”, Mr. Fleck has represented victims of fraud from almost every continent. Our typical client is a business person from a foreign country, who does business in California. To assist in the transactions, he or she relies on the services of expatriates from his country who now live in the United States. Unfortunately, there are swindlers in every culture around the world, and they tend to target their own people for fraud. The reason is simple: The con-artist must persuade his target to trust him, and it is easier to build a rapport with somebody with whom one shares a language, culture, and history. Targeting one’s own people even has a name: Affinity Fraud. Our international clients typically are victims of affinity fraud related to business, investments, and real estate.
For a better understanding of international fraud, read the description under “Fraud Lawsuits.”
Mr. Fleck and Ms. Gutierrez also represent those business owners who have been accused of fraud either by a law enforcement agency or by a plaintiff in a civil lawsuit. As former criminal prosecutors, they vigorously defend those who have been wrongly accused. Contact the firm as soon as you know there is an investigation underway because there may be more defense strategies available before charges are filed.
The firm works with a team of retired federal investigators, local detectives, and forensic accountants to investigate financial crimes. If you believe your business is a victim of embezzlement or fraud, we will help you create the right investigative team to find the answers you need.
Property owners can be liable for injuries sustained by people due to a defective or dangerous condition on the property. Common examples include:
A dangerous or defective condition on the property
- Inadequate Maintenance
- Inadequate Security
The types of cases that fall under the “premises liability” umbrella can vary. As premises liability lawyers we have seen a wide range of injuries including: injuries sustained from a slip and fall in the middle of a grocery store, permanent scarring caused by a dog bite, brain damage caused from an accidental drowning in a backyard pool, and death resulting from an otherwise avoidable fall down a set of stairs that lacked a handrail. Our job is to persuade a jury that 1) the property owner or business owner had a duty to keep our clients safe, 2) the owner failed in his or her duty, and 3) our client’s injury was a direct result of the action or inaction of the owner. This is basic negligence law.
We can help you from the beginning of the process until the end. First, we will help you obtain the medical treatment you need to recover from your injuries. Then we will investigate whether the property owner knew or should have known of the dangerous condition. Next, we will demand compensation for your injuries. In a typical premises liability lawsuit, the property owner has residential or commercial insurance to cover personal injury claims. We will determine whether such coverage exists and the limits of that or any other applicable insurance policy to help us determine an appropriate settlement demand. Finally, if we cannot reach an agreement with the insurer, we will take the matter to trial.
In California, personal injury lawsuits must be filed within two years from the time of the injury. In cases where the injury was not discovered immediately, there is a one-year period from the date that the injury was discovered. When a governmental entity is sued, a government claim must first be filed at the proper location within six months of the injury in order to preserve your right to sue for money damages in court.
California enacted a dog bite law that holds the owner of any dog strictly accountable (liable) to an injured person if that person gets bitten and was either in a public place or lawfully in a private place when the bite happened. This generally means that as long as the injured person was not trespassing, provoking the dog, injured by an employer’s dog while on the job or performing a paid service involving the dog, then the victim is not required to prove negligence or anything else. Although this is a strict liability offense which does not require the victim to prove that the dog owner did anything wrong, the filing of such a lawsuit is subject to the two-year statute of limitations for personal injury actions.
Liability can be imposed even if the dog has not previously bitten anyone or shown any aggressive behavior in the past. Also, it is important to remember that in these type of cases the injury must be caused by the dog bite and not by some other behavior on the part of the dog. For example, if your dog were to jump on your friend, scratching his face and causing permanent scarring, the dog bite statue would not apply. However, California’s negligence law could.
Slip and Fall lawsuits are a type of premise liability lawsuit. An example involves slipping on liquid in the grocery store aisle or tripping on a concealed sprinkler head in your neighbor’s backyard. The analysis involves whether the property owner (or employee) should have known of the danger and/or whether a “reasonable” person would have known of the dangerous condition and taken steps to fix it.
Sometimes also referred to as “trip and falls”, these cases may require the injured party to sue multiple defendants when it is not clear who was responsible for the injury. For example, in a shopping mall trip and fall, there might be a question of whether it was the responsibility of the mall owner, the store owner, some independent vendor, or other parties who were aware of the dangerous condition or defect.
Not taking precautions to install proper equipment (i.e. failing to install a handrail when required to do so by the Building Code) can lead to injury or, in some cases, result in death. Property owners who violate building codes and disregard public safety need to be held accountable. Under California law for wrongful death, persons named in the California Code of Civil Procedure section 377.60 are allowed to recover monetary damages on his or her own behalf for the loss suffered due to the victim’s (decedent’s) death. In most situations, a wrongful death action must be brought within two years of the injury or death. CCP section 335.1. However, there are exceptions such as when the action is based on medical malpractice (providing for a three-year statute of limitations from the date of injury or one year after reasonable discovery of the injury) and when the action is based on government tort liability (which requires that a government claim be filed within six months of the injury).
Lawsuits are often needed when defective conditions arise in the context of landlord-tenant relationships. Some issues include: Concealment of a defective condition by a landlord; Affirmative misrepresentation of a condition in a building; and Failure to fix a condition that makes the unit uninhabitable.
A person who owns, leases, occupies, or controls property may be negligent if he or she fails to use reasonable care to keep the property in a reasonably safe condition. Some examples of inadequate maintenance include the person’s failure to: Provide proper railings, fencing and lighting; Repair loose door hinges; Clean up tree limbs or fallen trees; Repair sidewalk cracks; and Clean up slippery surfaces.
The injury in a negligent security case may arise out of a criminal or violent act such as robbery, rape, assault, or battery. Foreseeability is a critical issue in a negligent security case. Some examples include: Failure of a commercial or residential landowner to provide sufficient lighting in a common area; and Failing to employ a security officer to protect lawful visitors from foreseeable acts of a third party.
David Fleck has represented clients from all over the world.
These are David's answers to questions from members of the public.
Let's keep in touch
Law Office of David L. Fleck, Inc.
11145 Tampa Avenue, Suite 19B
Porter Ranch, CA 91326 USA
Office: (818) 488-9729
Fax: (818) 533-6453
David L. Fleck (Attorney)
Gigi Gutierrez (Attorney)
Angie Whitmarsh (Paralegal)