September 30th, 2014 at 10:32am
Four people have been sentenced to federal prison for scheming to victimizing homeowners in foreclosure.
U.S. District Judge William B. Shubb sentenced Jesse Wheeler, 37, of Roseville to three years; Jewel Hinkles, aka Cydney Sanchez, 64, of Los Angeles to five years; Cynthia Corn, 61, of Oakland to two and a half years; and Brent Medearis, 48, of Modesto to one year and 10 months in prison.
Evidence presented by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California showed that Jewel Hinkles was the founder and general manager of Horizon Property Holdings LLC in Beverly Hills. From 2008 through 2010, she offered programs called “Save My Home” or “Homesaver” that promised homeowners she would save their homes and reduce the principal on their mortgages (loan modifications scams).
Jesse Wheeler was one of Hinkles’ affiliates and his Roseville-based company, J.W. Financial Solutions, took in approximately $2,133,376 from more than 600 victims.
Prosecutors said the defendants promised the homeowners they would buy the homeowners’ mortgages at a discount in order to reduce the principal and monthly payments. To effect this, the defendants filed fraudulent deeds (title fraud) transferring an interest in the homeowner’s property to a fictitious entity called Pacifica Group 49/II.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee S. Bickley and Matthew D. Segal.
Read the original article in the Merced Sun-Star.
September 30th, 2014 at 7:49am
Banks that continue using stall tactics to prevent borrowers from refinancing their homes or getting loan modifications are now finding their dishonesty is very costly. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has just fined Michigan-based Flagstar $37.5 million for violating the new mortgage servicing rules.
Read the article in DSNews.
September 19th, 2014 at 7:33am
After a one-day bench trial on stipulated facts before U.S. District Judge Troy L. Nunley, Alan David Tikal was convicted on 11 counts of mail fraud and one count of money laundering in a mortgage fraud scheme.
Tikal ran a business called KATN, which promised homeowners in financial distress that he would lower their outstanding mortgage debt by 75%, thereby lowering their monthly mortgage payments. He falsely claimed to his victims that he was “a registered private banker with access to an enormous line of credit and the ability to pay off homeowners’ mortgages in full. Tikal told homeowners that in return for various fees and payments, their existing loans would be paid in full, and the homeowners would then owe new loans to Tikal that would be only 25 percent of the original loan.”
As the reader might suspect, none of the homeowners’ saw their mortgages paid, foregiven or reduced and because they were told to stop making their mortgage payments to their banks, many lost their homes to foreclosure. Of the $5.8 million Tikal collected, almost half went into his or his family’s accounts for their personal use.
Alan David Tikal‘s crimes were considered so extensive that he was prosecuted by both the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California and the California Attorney General’s Office. His case was investigated by SIGTARP, the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, the California Department of Justice, and the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office.
September 12th, 2014 at 11:15am
Charles Head, 40, the former CEO of Head Financial Services, Creative Loans and other brokerage and financial companies, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller to 35 years in prison for operating foreclosure rescue scams.
Instead of helping homeowners who came to him for help in avoiding foreclosure of their homes, Head substituted straw buyers on the victims’ property titles without their knowledge (title fraud). straw buyers then applied for mortgages and sucked out whatever equity existed. The victims lost their homes and suffered damage to their credit ratings.
According to prosecutors, Charles Head‘s foreclosure fraud began in Los Angeles and Orange Counties and then expanded to a nationwide operation. In all, he and his co-conspirators obtained over $90 million in loans, caused losses of over $50 million and stole the title to more than 300 homes. He was caught only because one of his victims in Sacramento contacted an FBI economic crimes agent on a complaint line.
Read the original article in the Sacramento Bee.
August 15th, 2014 at 10:56am
Duy Khac Nguyen, 34, Garden Grove, has been charged with 37 felony counts of grand theft, five felony counts of theft from elder, including a sentencing enhancement for property loss over $65,000. The charges involve 42 alleged victims and $92,000 of their money in a loan modification fraud case.
The scheme Nguyen is alleged to have run operated only between February and July 2010. His loan modification company was called HAMP Resources, which he is accused of claiming falsely of having an association with the federal government’s HAMP program. Instead of offering loan modification services, prosecutors allege that Nguyen deposited the money from homeowners into his personal bank account and then moving out of the area.
He was apprehended by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department with assistance from the Garden Grove Police Department after United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) received complaints. USPIS along with the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIG-TARP) conducted the investigation.
“Nguyen is charged on 42 counts with swindling struggling homeowners, including the elderly, by falsely claiming that his company ‘HAMP Resources’ was part of the federal government,” said Christy Romero, Special Inspector General for SIGTARP. “He allegedly sold a money-backed guaranteed service to lower homeowners’ mortgage payments and interest rates under TARP’s housing program known as HAMP. He is alleged to have taken the money from his victims, without providing any service, then disconnecting his phone and shutting down his mailbox, website, and bank account while some of his victims lost their homes to foreclosure. SIGTARP and our law enforcement partners will aggressively investigate allegations of crime related to TARP.”
“Loan modification scams are proliferating at a rapid pace,” said B. Bernard Ferguson, Inspector in Charge of the USPIS – Los Angeles Division. “The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is continuing to investigate and will pursue such criminal activity when the nation’s mail system is used for illegal or dangerous use.”
Senior Deputy District Attorney Pete Pierce of the Orange County District Attorney’s Major Fraud Unit is prosecuting this case.
Read the Press Release for this case.
August 15th, 2014 at 10:39am
Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce E. Dudley announced guilty pleas in a case where the defendants promised to obtain loan modifications for struggling homeowners.
Ismael Cancinos, age 56, of Palmdale, CA pleaded guilty to 34 felony counts that included charges of first degree residential burglary, grand theft and fraudulent practices of a foreclosure consultant. Mercedes Alvarez, age 48 of Palmdale, CA, pleaded guilty to 7 felony charges that included fraudulent practices of a foreclosure consultant. She also admitted the special allegation of committing an aggravated white collar crime. They were ordered to pay full restitution to their victims and Mercedes Alvarez has been ordered to surrender her real estate license.
Read the original article in Santa Barbar Edhat.
August 15th, 2014 at 10:28am
A common short sale scheme with a twist may land three people in a lot of trouble.
Prosecutors said Nelly Luz Rubiano, 57, of Ojai, and Orange County residents Sergio Sanchez Santibanez, 32, and Alejandra Rodriguez, 31, allegedly operated a foreclosure rescue program that may have incorporated short sale fraud into the business model.
The three worked for Foreclosure Legal Services in the city of Orange and were arrested on allegations they charged homeowners in distress upfront fees, which are illegal in California. They were alleged to have promised the homeowners to save their homes by offering to buy the homes in a short sale and then re-selling the properties to those homeowners at a discounted market value, courtesy of the lenders.
Prosecutors said that from 2011 to 2012, Rubiano, Santibanez and Rodriguez lured struggling homeowners in Ventura County with a promise to save their homes that were undergoing foreclosure. The three allegedly promised to buy the distressed properties in a short sale and said they would then sell the properties back to the homeowners at a reduced market value, prosecutors said.
Read the original article in the Ventura County Star.
August 8th, 2014 at 9:17am
In an announcement made by Christy Romero, Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP), and Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, three men have been arrested and charged in relation to what may be one of the largest mortgage modification schemes ever committed.
Charged with one count each of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud are Ped Abghari, aka “Ted Allen”, 37, of Irvine, California; Dionysius Fiumano, aka “D”, 43, of Irvine, California; and Justin Romano, 40, of Blue Point, New York. The three are alleged to have taken up to $18.5 million from over 8,000 financially distressed homeowners in all 50 states by falsely promising them pre-approval for lower payments through the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) and aggressive legal representation.
“This was all a purported ruse used to trick vulnerable homeowners into paying the defendants thousands of dollars in up-front fees for which zero meaningful work was ever actually done,” Romero said. “SIGTARP has aggressively pursued these allegations, working closely with Preet Bharara’s office, to protect homeowners in New York and across our nation from becoming victims of this crime and to bring perpetrators to justice.”
Read the original article in DSNews.
July 31st, 2014 at 1:32pm
Phillip Linza, a Plumas Lakes man who claimed that PHH Mortgage never corrected a mistake in the modification to his home loan, has won a major settlement that is certain to get the attention of attorneys representing similar homeowners.
A Yuba County Superior Court jury awarded Linza $513,902 in damages and $15.7 million in punitive damages against PHH.
United Law Center attorney Andre Chernay said PHH Mortgage, despite repeated attempts by Linza to reach them, never explained why they raised his mortgage to $2,300 per month after first lowering it to $1,530.
“It’s a classic case of David v. Goliath,” according to Jon Oldenburg, Managing Attorney and partner at United Law Center. “No one thought the banks could be beaten. This award is a huge step in the right direction to help us continue to punish the banks for violations against millions of California homeowners.”
Read the original article in News10.net.
June 20th, 2014 at 8:37am
Marc Stanley Cooper, 60, has been charged by the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office with 21 counts of elder financial abuse, foreclosure fraud and grand theft.
Prosecutors said Cooper solicited homeowners in distress for money to negotiate a reduction in their mortgages but did not do so, instead defrauding the 15 homeowners.
“He is an experienced con man who promised individuals who were suffering with overly large mortgages that he could reduce their mortgages as well as modify their loans,” said Deputy District Attorney Ken McCormick, of the District Attorney’s real estate fraud unit. “In reality, he was embezzling and defrauding them.”
Read the original article in the Mercury News.