"At the height of the financial crisis, bargain hunters would gather each week on county courthouse steps to bid on foreclosed properties throughout Northern and Central California. The inventory lists were long, especially in hard-hit areas such as Sacramento and Stockton. But the auctions were generally short affairs — often because real estate speculators were illegally fixing the bidding process.
In the past
three years, federal prosecutors have charged 54 people and two
companies in three states for bid-rigging during courthouse auctions of
foreclosed properties. Most cases originated in California, the state
with the highest foreclosure rate during the financial crisis. Nearly
identical rings were also broken up in Raleigh, N.C., and Mobile, Ala."