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California City Podcast: State Adds Use Of Cell Phone Jammers to Complaint Against Silver Saddle

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California City from the air. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
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Three weeks ago, I reported allegations by a former Silver Saddle Ranch and Club employee that the desert land sales company used illegal cellphone jammers to prevent potential buyers from using their phones during sales presentations.

That reporting came in a bonus episode of our investigative podcast California City released four months after we dropped the last part of the original eight-episode series.

Now, the government agency that shut the company down after we first started investigating Silver Saddle has amended its complaint, citing "recently discovered facts."

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The former employee told me that she found cell phone jammers beneath the sales pavilion, which is where Silver Saddle's sales agents persuaded people to invest.

The California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (formerly known as the California Department of Business Oversight) had accused Silver Saddle Ranch and Club with securities fraud in September 2019.

The CDFPI alleged that Silver Saddle had made tens of millions of dollars in a desert real estate scheme that targeted Filipino, Chinese and Spanish-speaking consumers with little investment experience.

The state also alleged that Silver Saddle's sales agents used high-pressure sales tactics, made false promises, and deliberately misrepresented the value of the investment.

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NEW TO THIS PODCAST?

In "California City" host Emily Guerin, a familiar byline for LAist readers, tells a story of money, power and deception. Deep in the Mojave Desert, there is a little town with a big name and a bizarre history: California City. For decades, real estate developers have sold a dream here: if you buy land now, you’ll be rich one day. Thousands of people bought this dream. Many were young couples and hard-working immigrants looking to build a better future. But much of the land they bought is nearly worthless.

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