Rickey White, 46, Westland, Michigan, and his company, Braunstein & Associates, face criminal charges for an extensive foreclosure-rescue fraud operation that scammed at least 360 victims out of $800,000.
The defendant allegedly collected upfront fees and impersonated a mortgage modification company.
The criminal charges come as the result of an investigation by the Attorney General after complaints against the company were filed with Attorney General Schuette’s Consumer Protection Division. The investigation revealed that from December 2009 through May 2011 White allegedly operated two companies that were marketed as mortgage modification businesses: Braunstein & Associates and Expert Financial.
It is alleged White offered prospective clients mortgage loan modifications for a fee, with a full money-back guarantee. White allegedly told victims his companies employed expert attorneys who would review their lender files to pre-qualify the homeowner for a mortgage loan modification. White allegedly assured clients his attorneys would file the modification proposals with the homeowner’s lender on their behalf. Investigation revealed that White allegedly had no attorneys on staff, and that modification proposals were either incomplete or never actually submitted to the banks.
White allegedly operated Expert Financial from December 2009 through September 2010. During this time, White allegedly victimized more than 300 clients, who lost a total of $700,000. When White learned the Attorney General was investigating his company, it is alleged he closed Expert Financial and opened Braunstein & Associates. From September 2010 through May 2011, Schuette alleges White victimized at least 60 homeowners, who were scammed out of more than $100,000.
White and his company, Braunstein & Associates are each charged with the following:
– One count of Conducting Criminal Enterprises (Racketeering), a felony punishable by up to twenty years in prison;
– Two counts of False Pretenses – $1,000-$20,000, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and/or three times the value of money or property involved.
White surrendered to Southfield Township Police at 10:30A.M. He is scheduled to be arraigned in Southfield’s 46th District Court before Magistrate Cythia Arvant at 1:30P.M. White will next be due in court before Judge Sheila Johnson on May 16th at 1:30PM for a pre-exam conference, and on May 18, 2012, at 8:30A.M. for a preliminary exam.
Citizens who believe they may have been victims of Braunstein & Associates or Expert Financial are encouraged to file complaints with the Attorney General’s Office at www.michigan.gov/ag by clicking “File a Complaint.”
Attorney General Bill Schuette announced charges.
Schuette reminds Michigan homeowners that citizens do not need to pay to speak with their lender or servicer or to obtain outside assistance with foreclosure issues. Free local assistance with foreclosure issues can be found by calling the Michigan State Housing Development Authority at (866) 946-7432.
A criminal charge is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
“Foreclosure rescue scam artists attack Michigan homeowners who are struggling financially and fighting to stay in their homes,” said Schuette. “Instead of helping families stay above water, these criminals push them back under. We are working hard to dismantle these predatory operations and connect victims with free foreclosure assistance.”
“I encourage homeowners with foreclosure concerns to contact free, state-certified housing counselors,” said Schuette. “You do not have to pay for assistance or to speak with your lender.”