After an unlicensed Sacramento contractor failed to appear at a sting to catch scammers, police detective Mike Wood learned where the man wa staying; the suspect is in jail on a $1 million bail, reports the Sacramento Bee. Wood is the department’s lead investigator of real estate fraud, a position created three years ago and partly funded by a county grant to deal with an influx of financial crimes that came with the boom in the real estate market.
With the economic downturn, new forms of fraud, scams and schemes in the real estate world have emerged, keeping Wood busy. As more homes go to foreclosure, “professional squatters” move into vacated bank-owned homes, pretend to lease out the properties and abscond with renters’ deposits. The 43-year-old, straight-talking detective said he had always wanted to be a police officer but didn’t see his dream realized until 13 years ago. After working as marine biologist, he entered law enforcement. His expertise in real estate crime makes Wood a valuable resource in the police department. Homicide detectives often ask him to conduct asset searches, which could help them determine motives of an alleged killer.