California Real Estate Fraud Report

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Archive for the 'Loan Modification Fraud' Category

San Bernardino DA Looking for Victims in Alleged Loan Modification Fraud

December 17th, 2013 at 8:53am

According to an article in the Victorville Daily Press, the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s office has put the word out to locate possible victims of an alleged loan modification fraud.

The DA’s office served search warrants Wednesday on five separate locations in Orange and San Bernardino counties involving the Siringoringo Law Firm and Clausen & Cobb Management Co. Inc.

Attorney Stephen Siringoringo and his wife, Kendi Smith-Siringoringo, were arrested for possession of 445 grams of marijuana packaged for sales after the marijuana was found during the searches.

If you are a homeowner living in the county and believe you have been the victim of a loan modification scam carried out by the Siringoringo Law Firm, call the District Attorney’s office Real Estate Fraud Division at 909-891-3519.

Orange County Attorney Arrested in Mortgage Modification Case

December 5th, 2013 at 10:19pm

An attorney who resigned from the California State Bar in 2009 has been the third defendant arrested in a federal indictment in which he and other are accused of operating a mortgage modification scam.

Ronald Rodis, 49, of Irvine, surrendered on the charges that he “participated in, and lent his name and the law license he formerly possessed to, the fraudulent operation,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Bryan D’Antonio, 47, of Brea, and Charles Wayne Farris, 53, of Aliso Viejo were arrested on December 3.

According to the indictment, Ronald Rodis lent his name to the Rodis Law Group, which later became America’s Law Group. Both firms advertised their loan modification services on radio, with Rodis speaking on some of the commercials.

Further, the indictment alleges that “Farris and D’Antonio hired and trained salespeople who allegedly told homeowners that Rodis Law Group was ’100% successful,’ ‘routinely lowered monthly payments,’ and obtained reduced principal balances. According to the indictment, once the defendants and their co-conspirators convinced homeowners to pay a fee of several thousand dollars, little to no effort was made to obtain loan modifications. After making their payments, homeowners who tried to get updates on the status of their cases were often unable to contact anyone at either company.”

Worse for D’Antonio is that he is facing these charges after previously being convicted of mail fraud and wire fraud in 2003 and being banned from engaging in telemarketing.

All told, the U.S. Attorney alleges that the homeowners lost $12 million to the defendants and many subsequently lost their homes to foreclosure.

Read the original article in Courthouse News.

Oceanside Telemarketers Sentenced to Prison for Defrauding Homeowners

December 5th, 2013 at 9:33pm

Shelveen Singh, a telemarketer for 1st American Law Center, has been sentenced to nine years in prison after pleading guilty to fraud for his role in an operation that falsely promised to modify home mortgages.

Singh’s co-worker, Johnathon Hearn, 31, of Oceanside, received two years in prison for his role.

Three others who were previously sentenced are Gary Bobel (92 months); Scott Thomas Spencer (43 months); and Travis Iverson (two years).

The business took in more than $11 million from 4,000 vulnerable homeowners.

Mincing no words, U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez called Singh a “dirty businessman,” noting the Corona resident had been required in a previous case to make restitution to victims. He not only failed to do so but went on a spending spree and then filed for bankruptcy protection.

The remaining defendants are Dean Gregory Chandler, the law center’s co-owner and attorney, and its call center manager Michael Eccles. The two faces charges of mail fraud, wire fraud, telemarketing fraud, conspiracy and money laundering when their trial takes place in March 2014.

Read the original article in the San Diego Union Tribune.

Three Men Convicted of Operating Fraudulent Mortgage Rescue Service

December 5th, 2013 at 8:45pm

Three Southern California men have been found guilty of conspiracy to commit mail fraud by a federal jury. The case was tried by the office of U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner.

Charles Head, 36; Benjamin Budoff, 46; and Domonic McCarns, 39, were accused by prosecutors of operating a large-scale foreclosure rescue scam. Head was convicted of three additional charges of mail fraud.

Prosecutors presented evidence that Charles Head led the scam under the entities Head Financial Services and Creative Loans. The firms operated from Orange County between March 2005 and June 2006 and received more than $5.7 million from distressed homeowners by promising them they could save their homes.

Read the original article in the Central Valley Business Times to learn how the foreclosure rescue scam operated.

La Jolla Man Gets Five Years for Loan Modification Fraud

November 1st, 2013 at 10:59am

Ian T. Kideys, 49, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Indiana to five years in prison for defrauding homeowners across the U.S., for falsely promising to modify their mortgages. He had previously pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud.

The court ordered him to pay $1.4 million in restitution to his victims. This looks like a good deal, since Kidey’s company took in upfront fees of over $3.4 million.

Kideys, of La Jolla, owned K2 Capital Management Inc., which operated under the dual names US Mortgage Bailout and iLoanAudit.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in a news release, “US Mortgage Bailout obtained some mortgage relief for its customers through fraudulent representations to lenders, but otherwise simply collected money — thousands of dollars from each customer. Each customer received a money-back guarantee; few got any money back.”

Read the original article in the San Diego Union Tribune.

Two Men Sentenced to Federal Prison for National Mortgage Rescue Fraud Scheme

September 18th, 2013 at 4:46pm

Two men who operated a nationwide network of businesses that purported to help distressed homeowners but were simply mortgage rescue frauds have been sentenced to federal prison.

Mark S. Farhood, formerly of San Diego, California, and Jason S. Sant of Lecanto, Fla., were sentenced to 11 years and six years, respectively, in addition to terms of supervised released. Each man was also ordered by United States District Judge Anthony J. Trenga to forfeit approximately $2 million to the federal government.

Farhood and Sant co-owned and operated Home Advocate Trustees, which also went by the names Walk Away Today, First Equity Trustees, Home Security Consultants, Sell Fast USA, Short Sale Buyer, USA Sell House Fast, and USA Rental Housing.

The remainder of this post is taken from the press release by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia’s website.

Christy Romero, Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP); Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; and Valerie Parlave, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement today after sentencing by United States District Judge Anthony J. Trenga. Farhood and Sant each pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges on May 10, 2013.

“Farhood should spend the next 11 years in prison thinking about how he preyed on and cheated 389 distressed homeowners out of their homes by ‘buying’ their homes in fake sales for $10 per property and then renting out the homes for $4 million, which he used to fund construction on his $1 million home in Costa Rica,” said Christy Romero, Special Inspector General for TARP (SIGTARP). “Farhood and his co-conspirator Sant, who was sentenced to six years in prison, hid their identities, stole identities of people whose pictures they found on the Internet, and exploited TARP’s housing program by submitting phony applications to stall foreclosures while they rented out the properties. When caught by SIGTARP and our law enforcement partners, Farhood tried to hide the proceeds of his crime, including the Costa Rica house and bags of silver coins, and tried have computer evidence of his crime deleted. SIGTARP will bring to justice all those who commit crimes exploiting the TARP bailout.”

According to court records, Farhood and Sant co-owned Home Advocate Trustees, which also went by the names Walk Away Today, First Equity Trustees, Home Security Consultants, Sell Fast USA, Short Sale Buyer, USA Sell House Fast, and USA Rental Housing. They marketed the businesses nationwide as purchasers of distressed real estate and a means by which vulnerable homeowners could avoid foreclosure and the accompanying negative effects on their credit. The companies told homeowners they were in the business of negotiating with lenders to purchase mortgage notes at a discount and falsely claimed to have been in business for seventeen years, to have experienced a 90 percent success rate in purchasing such notes, and to be the nation’s largest volume buyer of short sale and over-leveraged real estate.

As Sant and Farhood admitted in connection with their pleas, the businesses were a fraud, no such negotiations with lenders ever took place, and the scheme was merely a way for them to take possession of hundreds of residential properties, including homes within the Eastern District of Virginia, at virtually no cost and then reap millions of dollars in profits by renting the homes to unsuspecting tenants.

Farhood and Sant further admitted that as part of the scheme, they submitted fraudulent loan modification applications to mortgage lenders under the Treasury Department’s Making Home Affordable Program in the name of homeowners, without the homeowners’ knowledge or consent. Farhood and Sant used the fraudulent applications to stall foreclosures on the properties under their control and for which no mortgage payments were being made and to maximize the time period during which they could collect rental income.

The homes purportedly sold to Home Advocate Trustees and its related entities ended in foreclosure, harming the participating homeowners and commonly resulting in eviction of the tenants.

This case was investigated by SIGTARP and the FBI’s Washington Field Office. Assistant United States Attorney Paul J. Nathanson prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States.

Northern California Woman Arrested in Mortgage Rescue Scam

September 18th, 2013 at 3:45pm

The wife of Alan Tikal, a man awaiting trial for running a mortgage rescue fraud scheme, has been arrested for continuing the scam after her husband’s arrest.

Tamara Tikal, of Brentwood (in Northern California) faces charges as a result of evidence seized by authorities from the Las Vegas office of KATN Trust, Alan Tikal’s business. So has another associate, Jan Kornfeld.

Federal prosecutors said Alan Tikal took in over $3 million from his alleged victims, using a program which offered homeowners in distress lower mortgages by (somehow) covering their current, more expensive mortgages.

 Read the original article in Bay Area News. You can also read the more detailed press release of the allegations by the prosecutor, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California.

9th Circuit Court Rules that Lenders Must Make Trial Modifications Permanent

September 10th, 2013 at 1:49pm

Local Mortgage broker Dan Dobbs sent me this recent court ruling to post regarding HAMP and temporary loan modifications, which I have reprinted verbatim.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled this month that lenders are required under HAMP to make a temp loan modification permanent upon completion of a set of trial payments.

Now, homeowners can bring a “contract claim in federal court”against mortgage servicers who fail to offer a modification once the homeowner has met the terms of a trial-payment plan.

The decision in Corvello v. Wells Fargo is binding for lower federal courts in 9th Circuit states. The decision follows a similar ruling by the 7th Circuit in Chicago.

Legal experts point out that it’s not binding for state courts, but it’s likely to be taken into consideration by courts that had routinely rejected mod cases in the past.

In the case, plaintiffs Phillip Corvello, Karen and Jeffrey Lucia, whose 2 cases were consolidated before the appellate court, each said Wells Fargo offered them a trial-payment plan.

Once they made the required payments, they weren’t offered a permanent mod plan as Wells promised.

“It allowed banks to avoid their obligations to borrowers merely by choosing not to send a signed modification agreement, even though the borrowers made both true representations and required payments,” the court ruled.

The court called the idea that Wells Fargo could be allowed to keep the trial payments unfair and an injustice that would be averted by its ruling.

You can read more about this ruling at JD Supra Law News and StopForeclosureFraud.com.

Riverside County Proactive in Fight against Foreclosure Fraud

August 29th, 2013 at 7:43pm

Riverside County officials are taking extra steps to ensure that homeowners in default do not become the victims of real estate fraud.

The offices of District Attorney Paul Zellerbach and Assessor-County Clerk-Recorder Larry Ward will send out advisory letters to homeowners who are receiving a Notice of Default (NOD). The letters will be a further notification that the NOD was recorded and to warn homeowners to watch out for loan modification scammers, especially those that demand payment in advance, a practice that was outlawed in 2009.

Read the full article in the Press Enterprise.

California State Bar Court Orders Attorney to Stop Practicing Law

August 14th, 2013 at 3:42pm

Ignoring California law has become very costly for a man who has only been practicing law in California for four years.

Stephen Siringoringo, of the Siringoringo Law Firm, was ordered by the California State Bar Court on July 29 to stop practicing law. He was classified as “ineligible to practice law” by the court because he took advance fees from clients to do mortgage modification work for them. Taking  advance fees has been illegal since 2009 and was a law sought and passed as Senate Bill 94 (SB94) by former California Attorney Edmund G. Brown, now the state’s governor.

Siringoringo’s law firm found clients by advertising in Southern California. According to judge Richard Honn, the firm obtained over 4,300 loan modifications. Some of the testimony heard by Judge Honn included declarations from 14 forms clients of the Siringoringo Law Firm. The upfront fees charged ranged from $3,500 to $8,490 according to the state bar’s investigation.

Read the original article in the Press Enterprise.

© Copyright 2007-2014 Monique Bryher

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The information and notices contained on The California Real Estate Fraud Report are intended to summarize recent developments in real estate fraud, mortgage fraud, short sale fraud, REO fraud, appraisal fraud, loan modification scams, loan modification fraud and other real estate related crimes occurring in Los Angeles and California. The posts on this site are presented as general research and information and are expressly not intended, and should not be regarded, as legal advice. Much of the information on this site concerns allegations made in civil lawsuits and in criminal indictments. All persons are presumed innocent until convicted of a crime. Readers who have particular questions about real estate fraud, mortgage fraud and appraisal fraud matters or who believe they require legal counsel should seek the advice of an attorney.

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