In a press release issued today, California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown announced that 9 men have been charged with operating a boiler room foreclosure fraud operation. The scam is reported to have fleeced some 1,500 homeowners out of more than $2.3 million by promising the desperate victims they would receive loan work-outs and modifications.
Four of the the men are already in custody: Gregg Scott Quinn, 37, of Camarillo, the ring’s sales manager; Juan Pierre Washington, 40, of Winnetka, a supervisor; Gary Arnold Eisenberg, 71, of Westwood, a top-performing telemarketer with the company; and Ira Itskowitz, 58, a sales manager. Eisenberg and Itskowitz have distinguished themselves by each having spent more than five years in federal prison for their previous fraud convictions.
Still missing are the four principal owners of the business: Niv Iskin, 30, of Reseda; Reviv Karpman, 38, of Tarzana; Tomer Kogman, 29, of Reseda; and Avraham Yechizkia, 34, of Encino; as well as a sales manager, Barel Iskin, 23, of Woodland Hills.
AG Brown’s office responsed to numerous consumer complaints against the defendants’ and their Canoga Park businesses at 8236 Remmet Avenue, Mason Capital Group, LLC and Gretchen Fox and Associates. Agents found a Las Vegas-style sales floor with casino-themed decor such as craps, poker and black jack tables fashioned into computer workstations. Top producing telemarketers received bonuses by spinning a roulette wheel.
As with all loan modification scams, this one preyed upon borrowers desperate to save their homes, who were enticed into relying upon false statements by the telemarketers that they had a “highly successful loan negotiation staff with over 20 years experience”, as well as paying upfront fees, a practice that is illegal unless performed by an attorney. Although Mason Capital Group and Gretchen Fox and Associates promised a guaranteed refund, in practice they refused almost all requests by dissatisfied clients to receive their money back.
The defendants have been charged with 97 criminal counts that include collecting advance fees for foreclosure consultant services, making false and misleading statements to induce homeowners to pay in excess of $400 for loan modification services, failure to remit business income tax returns, remitting false personal income tax returns and committing two or more felonies with White-Collar Crime Enhancement and Excessive Taking Enhancement.
Read the California Attorney General’s press release and the Declaration in Support of Arrest Warrants.