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MichaelMickey” Henschel, 68, Van Nuys, California was indicted on an 11-counts for his alleged role as the mastermind of a foreclosure-avoidance scam that targeted distressed homeowner.  He was arrested on federal charges that he orchestrated a bankruptcy fraud scheme that brought in more than $7 million from victims. Henschel was ordered detained pending trial.

According to the indictment unsealed after his arrest, Henschel owned a Van Nuys-based company he operated under several names, including Valueline. Henschel and several co-conspirators marketed illegal foreclosure- and eviction-delay services to homeowners who had defaulted on their mortgages and renters who were facing eviction. As part of the scheme, Henschel and the others allegedly convinced homeowners to sign fake grant deeds that purported to show the homeowners had conveyed an interest in their properties to fictional third parties.

Henschel and his co-conspirators allegedly filed bankruptcies in the names of fictional persons and entities to trigger the automatic stay provision of the Bankruptcy Code, which meant that foreclosure sales were stalled.

Henschel allegedly delayed evictions in a similar way, filing fraudulent documents in state eviction actions and sending similar documents to sheriff’s offices.

Henschel allegedly charged some homeowners large fees before agreeing to clear title to their properties, in addition to the monthly fees paid for the illegal services. During the course of the scheme, from October 2010 through July 2013, Henschel and his co-conspirators collected more than $7 million, according to the indictment.

The indictment charges Henschel with one count of conspiracy, eight counts of bankruptcy fraud and two counts of wire fraud.

Following his arrest, Henschel was arraigned on the indictment. He entered a not guilty plea, and a trial was scheduled for August 8, 2017.

If he is convicted of the charges in the indictment, Henschel would face a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison for each of the conspiracy bankruptcy fraud counts. The two wire fraud counts carry a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years.

The case against Henschel is the result of an investigation by the FBI and FHFA-OIG, which received assistance from the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office and the United States Trustee’s Office for the Central District of California.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kerry L. Quinn of the Major Frauds Section.

Drew Alia, 40, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, pled guilty to an Information which charged him with willfully failing to file federal income tax returns for tax years 2010 through 2013 before United States District Court Judge Paul Diamond.

Alia, an attorney, according to the Information, operated a home mortgage rescue service which was designed to assist home owners who were facing foreclosure to secure financing in order to prevent a home mortgage foreclosure. The Information alleged that Alia realized gross income of $28,000 in 2010; $107,000 in 2011, $144,000 in 2012, and $71,000 in 2013 all of which he failed to report on federal income tax returns that he was required to file in each of the aforementioned years.

As we begin the 2017 filing season, American taxpayers are reminded that the term voluntary compliance means that each of us is responsible for filing a tax return when required and for paying the correct amount of tax,” said Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Acting SAC Gregory Floyd. “That responsibility should not be taken lightly. Mr. Alia chose to ignore his duty to file and pay taxes; thus he must be held accountable for his actions.”

Alia faces a maximum of 4 years of imprisonment, a fine of up to $400,000 and 1 year of supervised release when he sentenced.

The plea was announced by acting United States Attorney Louis D. Lappen.The case was investigated by Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division Philadelphia Field Office and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Floyd J. Miller.

Trent Gaines, a Georgia real estate investor, pleaded guilty for his role in conspiracies to rig bids and commit mail fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Georgia.  Gaines admitted that he and others conspired not to bid against one another at public real estate foreclosure auctions from October 2008 to November 2010 in Fulton County, Georgia, and from September 2006 to February 2011 in DeKalb County, Georgia. Gaines also admitted to conspiring with others to use the mail to carry out a scheme to fraudulently acquire title to selected Fulton and DeKalb properties sold at public auctions, to make and receive payoffs and to divert money to co-conspirators that should have gone to mortgage holders and others. The selected properties were then awarded to the conspirators who submitted the highest bids in private side auctions open only to Gaines and his co-conspirators. Continue Reading…

Tampa lawyer involved in mortgage rescue scam loses law license

A Tampa lawyer who helped swindle homeowners out of $4.7 million during the mortgage crisis has had his law license revoked by the state Supreme Court.

In July of 2014, the attorneys general for Florida and Connecticut filed a federal lawsuit alleging lawyer Ian S. Berger, along with several others, had scammed struggling homeowners by promising them loan modifications if they signed on to “mass joinder” lawsuits against their lenders.

John Shiells, Real Estate Investor,  Danville, California, and Miguel De Sanz, Real Estate Investor, San Francisco, California each pleaded guilty to three counts of bid rigging and three counts of mail fraud in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California in Oakland, California. Both were charged in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in the Northern District of California on Nov. 19, 2014 in connection with their role in bid-rigging conspiracies and mail fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Northern California. Continue Reading…

Ramin Rad “Ray” Yeganeh, real estate investor, San Mateo, California was indicted by a grand jury in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California in Oakland and charged with bid rigging and conspiracy to commit mail fraud in connection with public foreclosure auctions. Continue Reading…