Foreclosure News Stories 11

FINANCIAL CRIME NEWS

FORECLOSURE NEWS STORIES

By Stephanie Ayres
26 September 2016
Los Angeles, California

Five people have been convicted or pleaded guilty in a foreclosure rescue scheme that cost taxpayers about $31 million, according to a September 15 statement from the US Attorney’s office in Los Angeles.

The operation used the names Vortex Financial Management, Professional Marketing Group, and Professional Legal Network in its pitch to homeowners in danger of foreclosure.

To get the homeowners to pay thousands of dollars in advance fees, the defendants falsely claimed to be a law firm and that their program would provide an attorney to negotiate on the homeowner’s behalf. The defendants, working from a boiler room in Irvine, California, provided no legal or other services to individuals who paid their advance fees.

Participants in this scheme who have been convicted or pleaded guilty include:

  • Pedram Abghari aka Ted Allen, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of wire fraud, and one count of misprision of a felony;
  • Justin Romano, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of wire fraud;
  • Mahyar Mohases aka Christian Mohases, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of wire fraud;
  • Johnny Linderman aka Johnny Lamboy, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of wire fraud;
  • Diionysius Fiumano, convicted in May 2016, sentenced on September 15 to sixteen years in prison, three years of supervised release and payment of $11,975,404 of forfeiture and restitution. Fiumano was a sales manager of the telemarketing operation.

By Stephanie Ayres
12 September 2016
San Diego, California

Telemarketers supervised by Charles Rose contacted homeowners seeking to avoid foreclosure and claimed to be associated with a law firm called Haffar and Associates, says an August 29 statement from the US Attorney’s office in San Diego. The callers used scripts containing a number of lies about the nature of the purported law firm and its record in foreclosure negotiations and claimed falsely that no customer had ever asked for a refund in order to obtain advance fees from targeted consumers for services that were never performed.

Most of the individuals associated with the Haffar and Associates scheme also failed to report income they received from the scheme and were charged with tax offenses, including the “figurehead” attorney Mohamed Haffar, who pleaded guilty in August 2014 to tax offenses, received a three-month sentence and was disbarred. According to the US Attorney’s August 29 statement on this case, Haffar received fees from Rose and others supervising the telemarketing operation for the use of his name and not for providing legal services to telemarketing customers.

Rose was sentenced to eight months in custody after pleading guilty to mail fraud and tax offenses. Rose’s associate Michael Nazarinia pleaded guilty in November 2014 to mail fraud and tax offenses and was sentenced to nine months in prison. A telemarketer for the operation, Stacy Tuers, pleaded guilty to tax charges as well.

By Stephanie Ayres
29 October 2016
Los Angeles, California

With a false promise to help distressed homeowners negotiate a short sale of their homes with lenders, a group using the business names Ownership Management Services LLC and Trust Holding Service LLC persuaded Southern California homeowners to transfer their equity in the homes to trusts controlled by the group.

The ringleader of this scheme was identified in an October 21 statement from the US Attorney’s office as Yun Soon Matsuba who also used the name Dorothy Matsuba. She and her associates, who included three members of her family, allegedly aimed to profit from the arrangement by collecting as much rent as possible from the defrauded homeowners.

To accomplish this, Matsuba engaged in a series of delaying tactics, such as failing to make promised loan payments to banks, using stolen identities, forging false short sale purchase offers that would not be acceptable to banks, or filing fraudulent bankruptcy petitions. According to the US Attorney’s statement, the Matsuba group obtained some $30 million in rent before the operation was shut down.

Dorothy Matsuba and four co-defendants – Thomas Matsuba, Jane Matsuba Garcia, Jamie Matsuba, and Young Park – were each charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and make false statements. Some members of the group were also charged with aggravated ID theft and wire fraud.

By Stephanie Ayres
31 July 2016
Atlanta, Georgia

The US Attorney’s office in Atlanta announced on July 1 that three real estate investors have entered guilty pleas on charges related to the rigging of auctions of foreclosed homes in Cobb County, Georgia between 2007 and 2012.

Defendants Jeffrey Wayne Brock, David Wallace Doughty, and Stanley Ralph Sullivan admitted participating in a ring of investors who colluded to enter low bids at the auctions of properties they wanted to acquire, then later holding a second private auction among themselves to decide who would get the properties and at what price.

According to the US Attorney’s statement, twenty people have been charged in the Atlanta area so far for involvement in rigging foreclosure auctions. The Department of Justice has identified the Atlanta area as one of several hotspots for foreclosure auction rigging nationwide.

By Stephanie Ayres
15 February 2016
Atlanta, Georgia

The US Attorney’s office in Atlanta announced on February 3 that Douglas L. Purdy and Clifford Wayne Hill have been charged with rigging bids in residential real estate foreclosure auctions in Forsyth and Gweinnett counties in northern Georgia between 2007 and 2012.

Both defendants were accused of colluding with others to obtain auction properties at low prices by selecting one member of their ring to bid on a particular property. Then, after the auction, the ring would meet secretly and hold a second auction among themselves for the same property, usually resulting in a higher price than the pre-arranged bid at the public auction. The group would divide the amount they received in excess of the amount owed by the foreclosed homeowner among themselves as profit, rather than allowing it to be returned to the homeowner.

Purdy was charged with one count of bid rigging and five counts of bank fraud for his role in an auction rigging ring in Forsyth County. Hill was charged with one count bid rigging and seven counts of bank fraud for his role in an auction rigging ring in Gwinnett County. Both defendants were described in the US Attorney’s statement as real estate investors.

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