The Office of California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris sent out a press release today announcing it has arrested and charged two persons with 41 felonies, including grand theft, burglary, unlawful collection of advance fees, tax evasion and conspiracy in what it terms was “a wide-ranging mortgage fraud scheme.”
The suspects, Joana Sosa, age 54 of Gardena, and Zoila Ortega, age 31 of Gardena, also face special enhancements for excessive taking and aggravated white-collar crime for losses to victims exceeding $350,000. Sosa and Ortega are alleged to have targeted member of their own community of Spanish-speaking homeowners (affinity fraud, ethnic fraud).
According to Attorney General Harris, “As the mortgage crisis continues, we are seeing a troubling rise in fraud that targets struggling homeowners, including those with limited English language skills. The predators targeting these victims are ruthless, and I am proud of our prosecutors and special agents for helping to bring them to justice.” Deputy Attorney General David Peyman will be prosecuting this case.
The complaint against Sosa and Ortega accuses them, from 2008 – 2010, of charging their victims advance fees, promising them new mortgage payments they could afford and promising to protect their client-victims from eviction, which is exactly what happened to most of them.
In addition to the Attorney General’s Office / Mortgage Fraud Strike Force, the alleged crimes were initially investigated by the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer Affairs Real Estate Fraud Unit.