Archives For Loan Modification

Herzel Meiri, 64, and Amir Meiri, 35, pled guilty yesterday to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, in connection with their scheme to fraudulently induce distressed homeowners to sell their homes for little or no consideration to a company they owned and controlled.

According to allegations in the contained documents filed in federal court, including the Indictment and Complaint:

From 2013 to 2015, Herzel Meiri and Amir Meiri defrauded distressed homeowners throughout the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens, New York.  The Meiris and others falsely represented to these homeowners – some of whom were elderly or in poor health – that they could assist them with a loan modification or similar relief from foreclosure that could result in the homeowners saving their homes.  But rather than actually assisting these homeowners, the defendants deceived them into selling their homes for less than the homes’ actual values to Launch Development LLC (“Launch Development”), a for-profit company owned and controlled by the Meiris.

Specifically, the Meiris’ direction fraudulently induced the homeowners to engage in a type of short sale in which the homeowner would sell the property to Launch Development.  The Meiris and their conspirators falsely assured the homeowners that their homes would be returned to them after a short period, and that they could remain in their homes throughout the entire process.  At the closing that followed, homeowners were encouraged to sign fraudulent documents, that unbeknownst to the homeowners transferred the homes Launch Development.  Homeowners often were then forced to vacate their homes, and in many cases had no other place to live. Launch Development resold many of the homes, which were purchased at fraudulently deflated prices, for an enormous profit.

Herzel Meiri, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a maximum fine of $1,000,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.  He also consented to forfeit $6,469,291.41, as well as 31 real properties, four bank accounts, and one escrow account, as proceeds traceable to the offense.

Amir Meiri, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and maximum fine of $1,000,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.  He also consented to forfeit the same 31 real properties, four bank accounts, and one escrow account, as proceeds traceable to the offense.

The defendants will be sentenced by before U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos on July 27, 2018.

Robert S. Khuzami, the Attorney for the United States praised the outstanding work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, and the New York State Department of Financial Services for their investigative efforts and ongoing support and assistance with the case.

The prosecution of this case is being overseen by the Office’s General Crimes Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew Thomas and Sheb Swett are in charge of the case.

Michael Paul Paquette, 34, San Juan Capistrano, California; Allan Jessie Chance, 34, Temecula, California; and Dennis Edward Lake, 59, Costa Mesa, California, were indicted on federal mail fraud charges that allege they solicited homeowners on the verge of foreclosure with bogus promises of loan modifications with interest rates as low as 2 percent.

The three men were arrested pursuant to an eight-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury on December 20, 2017

Paquette, Chance and Lake were arraigned on the indictment in United States District Court, where they all entered not guilty pleas and were ordered to stand trial on March 6, 2018. All three defendants were released on $15,000 bonds.

According to the indictment, Paquette and Chance operated under aliases and told distressed homeowners that they worked for the Laguna Hills-based HAMP Services – which sounded similar to the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), a legitimate government program which permanently reduced mortgage payments to affordable levels for qualifying buyers.

Paquette and Chance told victims that they were approved for a government-affiliated loan modification, but they needed to make three “trial payments” before the loan would be modified, according to the indictment. They also falsely told the victims that their money would be held in a trust or escrow account. Chance falsely claimed that he had experience in getting home loans modified because he had worked at Bank of America.

After victims began making “trial payments,” their files were referred to Lake, who ran a Newport Beach-based business called JD United. The indictment alleges that Lake and his employees told victims that they were working on loan modifications, furthering hope that the loan modifications promised by Paquette and Chance were coming and that there was no need to contact law enforcement about the “trial payments” that had been paid.

When being pitched on the loan modification service, the victims were never told that $800 of the “trial payments” went to JD United, and that Paquette and Chance received commission payments taken directly from the accounts where the “trial payments” were deposited. The indictment further alleges that none of the victim money went to the lenders or a government agency for a loan modification.

Investigators believe that over 500 victims nationwide paid at least $2.5 million dollars to the defendants and others in “trial payments.”

The scheme allegedly ran from the beginning of 2014 through April 2015.  Paquette and others originally started soliciting victims claiming that they worked for Hope Services. After victims made many complaints about Hope Services, new victims were solicited using the name HAMP Services starting in late 2014.

Two other defendants involved in the scheme have pleaded guilty to federal charges and are pending sentencing.

Paquette, Chance, and Lake are charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud. Additionally, Paquette is charged in three substantive mail fraud counts, Chance in four mail fraud counts, and Lake in six mail fraud counts. If they were to be convicted, each defendant would face a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison for each count.

The case against Paquette, Chance and Lake is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP). The Federal Trade Commission provided substantial assistance.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Vibhav Mittal of the Santa Ana Branch Office.

Ana Maritza Gomez, 45, Hyattsville, Maryland, was sentenced to 30 months in prison followed by 3 years of supervised release for conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud arising from a scheme to defraud victims through a foreclosure rescue scam.  United States District Judge Roger W. Titus also ordered Gomez to pay $205,280.25 in restitution.

Two co-defendants, Rene De Jesus De Leon, 49, Silver Spring, Maryland, and Pedrina Rodriguez Bonilla, 39, Silver Spring, Maryland, have also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud for their involvement in the same scheme.

According to evidence presented at the six-day trial, from at least late 2011 to August 2015, Gomez and her co-conspirators claimed that they could help homeowners who wanted to modify their mortgage loans and prevent foreclosure of their homes. The conspirators sold the victims on a “principal reduction” program that included an upfront fee, typically between $3,000 and monthly payments for 10 to 15 years. Gomez and her co-conspirators told the victims to make monthly payments to the conspirators and to companies they controlled, in lieu of to the homeowners’ lenders. The companies controlled by Gomez’s co-conspirators were named Marketing Multiservices LLC and Innovative Solutions Services LLC.

According to the indictment and court documents, the conspirators mailed monthly invoices to the homeowner victims that falsely indicated that the “principal balance” was being paid down. Some of the victims paid Gomez in person each month at her residence; or some of the victims deposited their payments directly into bank accounts controlled by Gomez’s co-conspirators. The conspirators told the victims not to open any mail from their lenders and instead provide it to the conspirators. The conspirators did not, however, negotiate with lenders of behalf of the homeowners. Many of the victims lost their homes.

Sentencing for Rene De Leon is scheduled for December 14, 2017 at 10 a.m. and Pedrina Bonilla is scheduled for sentencing on December 13, 2017 at 9:00 a.m.

The sentence was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Stephen M. Schenning, Deputy Inspector General for Investigations Rene Febles of the Federal Housing Finance Agency Office of Inspector General (FHFA-OIG); Special Agent in Charge Cary A. Rubenstein of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General (HUD-OIG); Chief Henry P. Stawinski III of the Prince George’s County Police Department; Postal Inspector in Charge Robert B. Wemyss of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service – Washington Division; and Chief J. Thomas Manger of the Montgomery County Police Department.

 

Acting United States Attorney Stephen M. Schenning commended the FHFA-OIG, HUD-OIG, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Prince George’s County and Montgomery County Police Departments, and the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office for their work in the investigation.  Mr. Schenning thanked Assistant United States Attorney Kristi N. O’Malley and Special Assistant United States Attorney Jolie F. Zimmerman, who prosecuted the case.

Kevin Frank Rasher, 45, Orange County, California, was sentenced to 97 months in federal prison Friday for fraudulently taking $2.2 million from distressed homeowners based on false promises that he could help them avoid foreclosure by obtaining modifications to their mortgages.   Rasher, who has been in custody since his arrest at his Coto de Caza residence over a year ago, pled guilty to 12 counts of mail fraud in May. Rasher was sentenced by United States District Judge Josephine L. Staton who also ordered him to pay $2.24 million in restitution to his victims.

According to court documents, Rasher admitted that, between 2011 and March 2016, he falsely told distressed homeowners that he was an employee of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and/or an attorney, and that the homeowners had been approved for a reduced mortgage payment or interest rate. Rasher then instructed the homeowners to mail their mortgage payments to one of his businesses, claiming that he would forward the money to the homeowners’ mortgage lenders. Instead of forwarding the money to the mortgage lenders, Rasher deposited the money into his bank accounts and used it to pay his own personal expenses.

Rasher admitted that he fraudulently obtained approximately $2.24 million from more than 500 victims.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of the Inspector General; the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP); the United States Postal Inspection Service; the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s Office of the Inspector General; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The case against Rasher was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Rosalind Wang and Robert J. Keenan of the Santa Ana Branch Office.

Kwame Insaidoo, 61, Bay Shore, Long Island, New York, the former executive director of United Block Association (“UBA”), a New York-based non-profit organization, was sentenced to 48 months in prison and his wife and Roxanne Isaidoo, 63, Bay Shore, Long Island, New York, was sentenced to 30 months in prison, in connection with their embezzlement of over $580,000 from UBA, defrauding their mortgage lender of approximately $200,000, and related crimes.  They were convicted on May 2, 2017, following a one-week jury trial before United States District Judge Valerie E. Caproni, who also imposed today’s sentence.

According to the Indictment, other filings in Manhattan federal court, and the evidence admitted at trial:

In 2011, Kwame Insaidoo and Roxanne Isaidoo engaged in a scheme to defraud their mortgage lender in connection with a modification of their mortgage under the federally-sponsored Home Affordable Modification Program, by underreporting their income and assets, including the hundreds of thousands of dollars they had embezzled from UBA.  This scheme led to a write-off of almost $200,000 from Kwame Insaidoo and Roxanne Isaidoo’s home mortgage.

UBA was a non-profit organization headquartered in New York, New York, that was controlled by Kwame Insaidoo, its former Executive Director.  UBA had contracts with New York City through which it received taxpayer funds, including federal funds, to operate and provide healthy meals and programming to the elderly at four senior centers in Upper Manhattan.

As the jury found, Kwame Insaidoo abused his authority as UBA’s Executive Director to embezzle, with the assistance of his wife, Roxanne Isaidoo, over $580,000 of UBA’s funds for his own benefit and that of his wife and son.  Kwame Insaidoo and Roxanne Isaidoo concealed their embezzlement by laundering the money, in part, through a shell company that they had created.  Kwame Insaidoo and Roxanne Isaidoo used the embezzled funds to pay for personal expenses, including the mortgage for their Long Island residence and the purchase of a Mercedes Benz and a Cadillac.  They also wired more than $300,000 to family members living abroad.    

In an effort to evade scrutiny regarding the embezzled funds, Kwame Insaidoo repeatedly lied to the City, including to its auditors, in order to maintain UBA’s funding and to conceal the funds he and his wife had diverted to their shell company. 

 

Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said:  “As a Manhattan jury found, Kwame Insaidoo and Roxanna Insaidoo stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from a government-funded non-profit organization dedicated to serving senior citizensThe Insaidoos enriched themselves and their family with taxpayer money that was supposed to support four senior centers in Upper Manhattan.  Now this husband-and-wife crime duo will serve time in prison for those crimes.”  

In imposing sentence, Judge Caproni stated that the “message has to be sent” that “it is not acceptable to steal money from the City that is designed for charitable goals to line your own pockets.

In addition to the prison terms imposed today by Judge Caproni, Kwame Insaidoo and Roxanne Isaidoo were ordered to forfeit a sum of $779,039.62.

Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced the sentence and praised the outstanding investigative work of the New York City Department of Investigation and the Criminal Investigators of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

The case is being handled by the Office’s Public Corruption Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eli J. Mark and David Zhou are in charge of the prosecution.

Bruce Kevin Hawkins, 52, Desoto, Texas, was sentenced to serve 41 months in prison and pay $219,109 in restitution for his role in a foreclosure rescue scheme that exploited vulnerable homeowners facing foreclosure.

Hawkins pleaded guilty in June 2017 to one count of mail fraud.  He has been in custody since the time of his arrest in January 2017.

A federal grand jury in Dallas returned an indictment in December 2016 charging Hawkins and three others with felony offenses stemming from a “foreclosure rescue scheme” they ran from approximately February 2012 through January 2013.  Richard Bruce Stevens, 51, San Antonio, Texas, and Christina Renee Caveny, 37, Dallas, Texas, also pleaded guilty and will be sentenced later this year.  Mark Demetri Stein, 36, Carrollton, Texas, is awaiting trial.

According to documents filed in the case, Stein operated Real Estate Solutions, Stevens used Texas Real Estate Services, and Hawkins formed ERealty Mortgage Group, LLC, as foreclosure rescue companies.  The conspirators used third parties to contact homeowners and offer them an opportunity to get out of their present home loans and receive a new home loan with a reduced interest payment and reduced monthly payment.  Hawkins and other conspirators falsely represented to homeowners that they had “investors” standing by who were ready to quickly purchase the homeowner’s present loan from the lender holding the current mortgage.  They also falsely represented that they would use investors to purchase the homeowner’s loan from the original lender at a greatly reduced price through a “short sale” process.

Furthermore, Hawkins and other conspirators falsely represented to the homeowners that the homeowners had the legal authority to transfer their homeowner’s deed to the defendants.

As part of the scheme, the conspirators fraudulently required homeowners to start making all future loan payments to them based on fraudulent so-called “loans,” and they also told homeowners to ignore late payment notices sent by lenders.  As part of the scheme, the conspirators conducted a fraudulent “closing” for each homeowner where they caused the homeowner to pay them a large down payment on the new “loan,” and they also had the homeowner sign fraudulent documents, such as a promissory note, deed of trust, special warranty deed, and/or a so-called “land trust.”

Further, according to plea documents, the conspirators falsely represented to homeowners that the conspirators could “sell” their property back to the homeowner with a new loan, when the conspirators well knew they did not legally own the property.  The conspirators also told homeowners to ignore notices of nonpayment from their present lender as they continued to unlawfully collect monthly so called “mortgage payments” from homeowners.  In fact, conspirators instructed several homeowners to file for bankruptcy but to not follow up with the bankruptcy process as an additional means to delay foreclosure and conceal the conspirators’ criminal conduct.  Conspirators concealed that all down payment and monthly mortgage payments fraudulently collected from homeowners was spent for their own personal benefit.

The defendants recruited at least 70 distressed and vulnerable homeowners who were facing the imminent threat of foreclosure on their homes and fraudulently collected a total of at least $242,000 from them.

Hawkins was sentenced before U.S. District Judge David C. Godbey and the sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas

The Dallas FBI investigated the case.  Assistant U.S. Attorney David Jarvis prosecuted.

Francisco Javier Gonzalez, a/k/a “Javier Gonzalez,” 45, Duncanville, Texas, vice-president of Dallas County Community Action Committee, Inc., pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud

According to documents filed in the case, the DCCAC was a non-profit entity, accredited by HUD between October 1990 and mid- February 2016, to provide housing counseling. It was created in 1965 by the Dallas Commissioners Court to support the efforts of the Johnson administration to combat poverty. Gonzalez served as DCCAC’s Vice President and one of the directors. Gonzalez also leased space in the DCCAC offices for another entity, known as Residential Counseling FJ LLC.

According to the charging documents filed in the case, between 2009 through 2016 Gonzalez through his work at DCCAC, defrauded homeowners under the guise that he was assisting them with mortgage assistance. Gonzalez specifically sought out victims who were facing financial difficulty and who had contacted the DCCAC seeking mortgage loan and foreclosure prevention assistance. He also identified victims facing such financial distress by subscribing to the Foreclosure Listing Service, a/k/a Roddy List, which offers listings of foreclosure and pre-foreclosure homes, by county, through a review of public records. Once identified, Gonzalez would meet with these victims in the DCCAC offices and in the victims’ homes. He would explain a plan to reduce the victim’s mortgage payment and to prevent foreclosure; the plan often included a loan modification application. These applications often contained information that had been falsified by Gonzalez and were otherwise incomplete.

According to plea documents, on February 28, 2013, Gonzalez prepared and submitted a false and fraudulent Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) application to a bank in an effort to delay foreclosure and extract additional funds from victims. As a result of Gonzalez’s scheme to defraud homeowners, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and certain banks suffered a loss of $611,740.55.

Gonzalez faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years and a $250,000 fine. Restitution could also be ordered. He has been in custody since the time of his arrest in October 2016.

U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas announced the plea. HUD Office of Inspector General, FHFA Office of Inspector General, and the USPIS investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney P.J. Meitl is in charge of the prosecution.

Jeffrey Halpern, 62, Hewlett, New York, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Peter G. Sheridan in Trenton federal court to an information charging him with one count of wire fraud. Halpern was the sole proprietor of a purported loan modification consulting company and admitted that he fraudulently billed clients more than $400,000 for services that were never performed,

According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court:

Between 2009 and 2016, Halpern operated JCK Marketing and solicited business from individuals who were seeking home loan modifications on their residential mortgages. Halpern told these individuals that, for a fee, he would negotiate loan modifications on their behalf.

In actuality, Halpern pocketed the funds but performed little or no actual services in connection with the purported loan modifications. Halpern also repeatedly demanded money for “bank fees” from his victims, even though none of the related financial institutions charged fees for loan modifications. During the relevant time period, Halpern defrauded at least 26 victims of over $400,000.

The wire fraud charge carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. As part of his plea agreement, Halpern must also pay restitution to the victims. Sentencing is scheduled for November 22, 2017.

Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced the guilty plea and credited investigators with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher in Newark, with the investigation. He also thanked the New York State Department of Financial Services, under the direction of Superintendent Maria T. Vullo; the Federal Housing Finance Agency Office of the Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Steven Perez; and the Nassau County District Attorney’s office, under the direction of District Attorney Madeline Singas, for their assistance.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sammi Malek of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark. Defense counsel is Mitchell C. Elman Esq., Port Washington, New York

Ronald Rodis, 52, Long Beach, California was sentenced to 41 months in prison, and Charles Wayne Farris, 56, Aliso Viejo, California, was sentenced to serve 47 months in prison for their roles in a multi-million dollar fraudulent mortgage modification scheme posing as a successful law firm.  Each of the men previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. In addition to the terms of prison imposed by U.S. District Judge David O. Carter, Judge Carter ordered Farris to pay $3,534,927.43 in restitution and ordered Rodis to pay $3,826,947.95 in restitution.

Both defendants previously admitted that, between October 2008 and June 2009, they participated in a scheme to induce homeowners to pay between $3,500 and $5,500 for the services of the Rodis Law Group. These defendants and their co-conspirators made numerous misrepresentations regarding RLG’s ability to negotiate loan modifications from the homeowners’ mortgage lenders. They hid the involvement of Bryan D’Antonio, the true owner of the scheme. D’Antonio was a convicted felon and subject to a permanent injunction prohibiting him from having any involvement with any business that engaged in telemarketing or misrepresented the services it would provide.

These defendants played key roles in a scheme that victimized homeowners facing foreclosure during the mortgage crisis,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The defendants promised homeowners assistance saving their homes and modifying their mortgages, yet took their money knowing the promised benefits would never be realized.”

These two defendants used their legal knowledge and expertise to coerce and victimize vulnerable homeowners,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Sandra R. Brown of the Central District of California. “Rather than help these individuals as promised, their fraudulent scheme cost the victims millions of dollars.”

Rodis was a licensed California attorney who allowed his name to be used to lend legitimacy to the scheme. He recorded radio advertisements encouraging struggling homeowners to call RLG. In the ads, Rodis falsely claimed that RLG consisted of “a team of experienced attorneys” who were “highly skilled in negotiating lower interest rates and even lowering your principal balance.” In fact, RLG was a telemarketing operation that never had a team of experienced attorneys and rarely achieved any of the promised results for homeowners. During much of the scheme, Rodis was the only attorney at RLG. After his involvement with the RLG scheme, Rodis surrendered his law license.

Farris supervised a sales force of dozens of telemarketers who fielded calls from struggling homeowners. At Farris’s direction and using scripts that he helped create, the telemarketers made numerous misrepresentations regarding the companies’ ability to negotiate loan modifications from the homeowners’ mortgage lenders. For example, the telemarketers stated that RLG and America’s Law Group – a successor to RLG – had been in business for 11 years when in fact the company had only opened in October 2008. They falsely stated that RLG and ALG routinely obtained positive results for homeowners, including lower monthly payments, reductions in principal balance and lower interest rates. In fact, positive results were rarely achieved for any RLG or ALG clients. Telemarketers also falsely reiterated that homeowners would have a team of attorneys and real estate professionals assigned to their case.

On April 10, Bryan D’Antonio, the leader of the scheme, was sentenced to 97 months in prison followed by 12 months in a halfway house and was ordered to pay $3,826,977.95 in restitution.

This case was investigated by the FBI Los Angeles Field Office and prosecuted by Trial Attorney John W. Burke of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch and Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph T. McNally of the Central District of California.

Sammy Araya, 41, Santa Ana, California was sentenced to 20 years, Michael Henderson, 49, Costa Mesa, California was sentenced to 12 years, and Jen Seko, 36, Anaheim, California was sentenced to 7 years in prison, all for their roles in a nationwide, multi-year “home mortgage modification” fraud that scammed thousands of vulnerable victims out of at least $11 million.  All three defendants were convicted by a federal jury on April 21, of multiple counts of mail fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.

For Sammy Araya, Michael Henderson, and Jen Seko, the financial struggles of more than 3,000 homeowners were an opportunity for theft,” said Special Inspector General Christy Goldsmith Romero. “Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) crime is particularly despicable because it targets vulnerable homeowners at risk of foreclosure. The scheme of ringleader Araya and his co-conspirators Henderson and Seko involved mailing to homeowners that faced foreclosure hundreds of thousands of deceptive and misleading mass mailers that touted help with the HAMP program. They took more than $11 million, yet only provided empty promises of admission into HAMP.  Araya bragged about obstructing the criminal investigation and when caught, all showed no remorse or contrition for the crimes they committed and the victims they defrauded. I thank U.S. Attorney Boente and his team for their hard work and commitment in ensuring these defendants got the justice they deserved.”

According to court documents, from at least March 2011 through September 2014, Araya and his co-conspirators targeted struggling homeowners and made a series of misrepresentations to induce them to make payments of thousands of dollars each in exchange for supposed “mortgage modification” assistance. The conspirators lured vulnerable victims into the scam through targeted mass mailers sent to homeowners facing foreclosure through Seko’s company, Seko Direct Marketing. In the mailers and in subsequent phone calls, the defendants and their co-conspirators falsely held themselves out as a non-profit organization or as affiliated with a real government program, the Home Affordable Modification Program, designed to help homeowners at risk of foreclosure. Henderson and other “customer service representatives” in the scam convinced victims to send “reinstatement fees” and “trial mortgage payments” to the conspiracy, based on the false representations that the funds would be used to modify their mortgages. In reality, however, the defendants did nothing to help modify any mortgages. Instead, they used the victims’ payments for their own personal benefit and to further the fraud scheme. Araya, the ringleader of the scam, used the fraud proceeds to purchase expensive vehicles, a racehorse, and a variety of luxury goods, as well as to fund his personal travel and a reality television show he produced called “Make It Rain.TV.”

This scheme had devastating consequences for the victim homeowners, all of whom were already in a precarious financial position. Many victims suffered substantially greater financial hardship after falling victim to this conspiracy than they were already facing when they entered into the bogus agreements with the conspirators. In many cases, the lenders ultimately foreclosed on the victims’ homes, after the victims had been induced to make their “trial mortgage payments” to the members of the conspiracy rather than to their lenders.

Twelve defendants have been convicted in the Eastern District of Virginia in this case and a related case in connection with this same scam. They include the following individuals:

Name, Age  HometownConvictionSentence
Sammy Araya, 41

Santa Ana, California

Convicted on Counts 1-11 of superseding indictment on April 2Sentenced to 20 years
Michael Henderson, 49

Costa Mesa, California

Convicted on Counts 1-6 and 9-11 of superseding indictment on April 21Sentenced to 12 years
Jen Seko, 36

Anaheim, California

Convicted on Counts 1-6 and 9-11 of superseding indictment on April 21Sentenced to 7 years
Roscoe Umali, 38

Santa Ana, California

Pleaded guilty March 22, 2016220 months in prison on Aug. 18, 2016
Joshua Sanchez, 37

Las Vegas, Nevada

Pleaded guilty July 8, 2015151 months in prison on Oct. 29, 2015
Kristen Ayala, 32

Las Vegas, Nevada

Pleaded guilty August 4, 2015135 months in prison on Oct. 29, 2015
Isaac Perez, 33

Los Angeles

Pleaded guilty March 30, 2016130 months in prison on Sept. 1, 2016
Joshua Johnson, 36

Huntington Beach, California

Pleaded guilty March 30, 2016121 months in prison on July 7, 2016
Jefferson Maniscan, 34

Los Angeles

Pleaded guilty March 29, 2016120 months in prison on Aug. 18, 2016
Nicholas Estilow, 34

Mission Viejo, California

Pleaded guilty January 1880 months in prison on June 1, 2017

 

Raymund Dacanay, 47

Newport Beach, California

Pleaded guilty March 29, 201660 months in prison on July 21, 2016
Sabrina Rafo, 24

Garden Grove, California

Pleaded guilty January 1960 months in prison on June 1, 2017