California Real Estate Fraud Report

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Archive for the 'Mortgage Rescue Fraud' Category

U.S. Attorney Charges 3 Men in $18.5 Million Mortgage Modification Scheme

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.

Petaluma Owners of Mortgage Modifiers Appear in Bankruptcy Court

June 6th, 2014 at 8:21am

Miguel Angel Lopez-Soleta and his wife, Heidi Beth Marks-Lopez have filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy following a criminal investigation into Lopez-Soleta’s firm Mortgage Modifiers, Inc.

Mortgage Modifiers claimed to help homeowners who were underwater to save their homes by restructuring their debt. But at the hearing, dozens of Lope-Soleta’s creditors accused him of taking thousands of dollars from them and failing to follow through with lenders, causing them to lose their homes or drop deeper into debt.

Calling Lopez-Soleta and Mars-Lopez “Hey, snake!” “Hey slime ball!”, the creditors and their attorneys claimed that the couple stole their money, and instead of using to help them as promised, financed a life of luxury, including expensive vacations, jewelry and other extravagant purchases.

Read the original article in the Press Democrat.

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.

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.

Former Bassist for Band Finch Ran Fraudulent Mortgage Audit Business

September 4th, 2013 at 9:05am

In an ill-conceived career move, the former bassist of a Temecula-based hard rock band called Finch pleading guilty to mail fraud in connection  with running a mortgage fraud scam.

Derek Thomas Doherty, 30, owned and operated Home Safe Financial, which charged homeowners in distress $3,000 for a mortgage “audit” and a free (sic) loan modification. Doherty found his victims by employing television, direct mail ads and cold calling.  According to US District Attorney Dianna Collins, Doherty never audited a single mortgage, nor did he have the software to do so. His victims lost more than $400,000 as a result of his scam.

Despite admitting he defrauded consumers, the most time Doherty faces is 15 to 21 months in prison on the felony mail fraud charge.

In the meantime, Derek Doherty is headed out on a band tour.

Read the original article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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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