Archives For Loan Modification

Sara Cordry, 69, Overland Park, Kansas, was found guilty on Monday of taking part in a scheme to swindle homeowners facing foreclosure with false promises to help them save their homes.

During trial, prosecutors presented evidence that Cordry conspired with co-defendants to take money from victims by fraudulently promising to:

  • Lower their interest rates.
  • Lower their monthly payments.
  • Help them obtain loan modifications.

Investigators identified more than 500 victims in 24 states who suffered a total loss of more than $1 million due to the scheme.

Co-defendants include:

  • Tyler Korn, 30, St. Ann, Missouri, who was sentenced to 51 months in federal prison.
  • Ruby Price, 74, Bonner Springs, Kansas, who is awaiting sentencing.
  • Amjad Daud, 35, Lutz, Florida, who failed to appear at court hearings. A warrant for his arrest has been issued.

Cordry’s sentencing is set for January 9, 2020. She could face up to 30 years in federal prison and a fine up to $1 million on each count.

U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister made the announcement.

McAllister commended the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of Inspector General, the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General, the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Emilie Burdette and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jabari Wamble for their work on the case.

 

Aston Wood, 55, New Richmond, Wisconsin, has been charged today with four counts related to an alleged mortgage fraud scheme.

The indictment charges that Wood engaged in a scheme to defraud from September 2015 to July 2019.  He is charged with one count of wire fraud, one count of mail fraud, one count of bankruptcy fraud, and one count of criminal contempt of court.

The indictment alleges that Wood represented to owners of homes in foreclosure that he could help them stay in their home by obtaining refinancing or modification of their mortgage, and that he instructed customers to make monthly mortgage payments towards a new or modified loan in an amount he selected, payable to him or to a limited liability company of which he was the sole member.  The indictment alleges that rather than remit the payments to lenders as promised, Wood instead deposited the payments in bank accounts he controlled and used the funds for his own personal expenses.

The indictment further alleges that Wood offered to help some customers buy back their foreclosed property, and he continued to solicit and receive funds from customers or their families based on false representations that the funds would be used to repurchase the property.   In addition, the indictment alleges that Wood told some customers to file for bankruptcy to stall foreclosure proceedings, which allowed Wood to delay detection and continue collecting monthly mortgage payments from customers.

The fourth count of the indictment alleges that Wood disobeyed a lawful order of a Court of the United States, an injunction issued on October 24, 2017, by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Catherine J. Furay in the Western District of Wisconsin, which permanently enjoined Wood from soliciting customers, offering to perform, and performing services related to mortgage foreclosure and debt relief.

If convicted, Wood faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison on both the wire fraud charge and the mail fraud charge, and five years on the bankruptcy fraud charge.  The criminal contempt of court charge has no maximum penalty; the penalty is at the Court’s discretion.

You are advised that a charge is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

The charges against Wood are the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, IRS Criminal Investigation, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office acknowledges the assistance of the Office of the U.S. Trustee.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Meredith Duchemin is handling the prosecution.

 

The Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Unit (CPU) has reached a settlement on Tuesday with two California-based companies requiring them to stop advertising and selling mortgage loan modification and debt relief services in Delaware and to provide restitution to Delaware consumers.

In the cease and desist agreement, CPU alleges that Roosevelt Law Center, P.C. and Miracles for Homeowners Marketing, Inc., and their principals, Thomas Moore and Benjamin Borazghi, operated a foreclosure rescue scam targeting Delaware homeowners. According to CPU, Roosevelt and Miracles targeted Delaware homeowners struggling to make their mortgage payments with over 1,000 deceptive flyers, and collected thousands of dollars in upfront fees from Delawareans who responded. CPU alleges that the “services” purportedly provided by these companies had little or no value, and a number of homeowners ultimately lost their homes to foreclosure.

Under the cease and desist agreement, Roosevelt, Miracles, Moore, and Borazghi are required to pay restitution of $22,275 to nine Delaware homeowners, in addition to $70,000 in civil penalties. The agreement also prohibits the companies and their principals from directly or indirectly offering any mortgage loan modification or debt relief services in Delaware going forward.

Common tactics used by foreclosure rescue scammers include “guarantees” to save someone’s home or to secure a loan modification, requests for upfront fees, and misleading statements regarding affiliation with government agencies. Delaware’s Mortgage Loan Modification Services Act makes it unlawful for a mortgage loan modification service provider to collect fees from a homeowner prior to obtaining a modification from the homeowner’s loan servicer. Under the Act, all providers must register with the Delaware Department of Justice, and are required to disclose certain information in their advertising to homeowners.

Attorney General Kathy Jennings made the announcement.

People who are trying to save their homes are living through a nightmare, often amid other serious hardships,” said Attorney General Jennings. “There are real programs that can offer these homeowners hope, including programs within the Department of Justice, but the ugly truth is that many scammers see opportunity in others’ misfortune. My office is here to help homeowners facing foreclosure, and we will not tolerate the despicable scams that prey on our most vulnerable residents.

Homeowners who wish to report a foreclosure rescue scam should contact CPU at (800) 220-5424. Legitimate foreclosure prevention programs are also available through CPU’s Office of Foreclosure Prevention, including Delaware’s Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program. More information is available at de.gov/consumer.

CPU’s work in this matter was handled by Deputy Attorney General David Weinstein and former Deputy Attorney General Gillian Andrews, with assistance from Special Investigator Joe Rago and Paralegals Ryan Martin, Kelly Drzymalski, and Shannon Faulk.

 

Mark Savransky, 59, Dix Hills, New York, was sentenced on Thursday to three to six years in prison for scamming 32 homeowners out of more than $600,000 in a mortgage modification scheme

According to documents, the defendant operated a mortgage modification business in Nassau County, New York, using the name Mark Savran. Between 2008 and 2014, he promised 32 homeowners in Nassau County and elsewhere that, after securing modifications, he would hold their mortgage payments in trust and forward them to the financial institutions servicing the homeowners’ mortgages.

Instead, the defendant converted the funds for personal use, stealing approximately $601,546.92 from these homeowners. Savransky used the funds for ATM cash withdrawals, credit card payments, child support, car payments, gasoline, travel expenses, restaurants, grocery stores, department stores and Netflix.

Savransky’s clients were typically residential homeowners who had purchased their homes using a subprime adjustable rate mortgage sometime between 2006 and 2009. When the payments became more than the homeowner could afford, homeowners hired the defendant to assist in obtaining a mortgage modification.

Savransky requested that all paperwork from the bank be given to him and if additional paperwork was sent by the bank to the victim, he demanded that it be given to him immediately, preferably unopened.

The defendant then counseled clients to give him the monthly mortgage payment that was due under the modified mortgage. Savransky informed his clients that he would make the payments on their behalf and, in doing so, create a record of payment that would prevent a lender from denying that payments were made or from reneging on any mortgage modification that was obtained. At the defendant’s request, these payments were mostly made in cash or by check that did not include the payee. Savransky later completed the payee portion of the check, thereby giving him the means to misappropriate the funds.

Because the mortgage payments weren’t made, lenders started to foreclose on the properties belonging to the defendant’s clients. When some of the homeowners complained to him, some of them received a limited amount of repayment.

Savransky pleaded guilty on October 9, 2018 before Supervising Judge Teresa Corrigan to two counts of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree (a C felony) and Scheme to Defraud in the Second Degree (an A misdemeanor).

The defendant must also pay $601,546.92 in restitution.

The defendant was arrested in August 2015 by NCDA detective investigators and arraigned on grand jury indictment charges in October 2017.

Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas made the announcement.

Today’s sentence sends a strong message to those who would prey on vulnerable homeowners during tough financial times in their lives,” DA Singas said. “Victims were close to losing their homes because of this defendant’s scheme and lies. I am grateful to our partners in Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, the Suffolk County Police Department and the Bronx District Attorney’s Office for their assistance on this case.”

This case was initially referred to the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office by the Bronx County District Attorney’s Office. Additional cases were also referred by the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office in conjunction with the Suffolk County Police Department.

Savransky’s victims include residents from Amityville, Baldwin, Bayside, Brentwood, the Bronx, Brooklyn, East Northport, Farmingdale, Hempstead, Hicksville, Huntington, Levittown, Lynbrook, Malverne, Merrick, Mount Vernon, New Hyde Park, Queens Village, Richmond Hill, Riverhead, Uniondale and Westbury, New York.

Deputy Bureau Chief Peter Mancuso of DA Singas’ Financial Crimes Bureau is prosecuting this case. Joseph Conway, Esq. represents the defendant.

Lawrence Adell Sefa, 65, Fenton, Michigan has pleaded guilty today to racketeering. The guilty plea follows charges filed against him in 2017 for using a fake mortgage assistance scheme to steal tens of thousands of dollars from 33 Michigan residents who were facing foreclosures.

Between 2012 and 2016, Sefa, through his company LAS Loan Assistance Centers, promised victims that he could negotiate mortgage modifications and save their homes from foreclosure. Instead of delivering on the services he promised, Sefa did little to nothing to obtain modifications for the victims and many lost their homes in the process. Following an investigation by the Department of Attorney General, it was determined a large portion of Sefa’s clients, in addition to those who already filed complaints, did not receive the promised services from Sefa or LAS.

Sefa pleaded guilty to one count of Conducting a Criminal Enterprise, a 20-year felony late last month. The plea agreement includes three key stipulations:

  • If Sefa pays the entire restitution of $116,615 at or before sentencing, he agrees to be sentenced to 12 months of incarceration;
  • If Sefa pays half of the restitution at or before sentencing, his sentencing guidelines will be 24-40 months of incarceration; or
  • If Sefa pays no restitution at or before sentencing, his sentencing guidelines will be 30-60 months of incarceration.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel made the announcement.

At a time when Michigan families are on the verge of losing their homes, the last thing they should have to worry about is Michigan businesses that take advantage of them in the process,” Nessel said. “These are hardworking men and women who needed help, but instead got cheated out of money they could not afford to lose. My office is dedicated to protecting these residents and ensuring bad actors are brought to justice.”

Any restitution that remains unpaid at the time of sentencing will be paid to qualifying victims out of the $97 Million Homeowner Protection Fund to ensure they receive timely payments. The State of Michigan will then seek reimbursement from Sefa.

Sefa will be sentenced by Judge Cavanaugh Friday, Aug. 2, 2019.

Caliber Homes Loans Inc. (Caliber) will pay $2 million and undertake affordable loan modifications for affected Massachusetts homeowners,. The settlement resolves allegations that Caliber failed to help borrowers avoid foreclosure and instead gave homeowners unaffordable loan modifications with ballooning monthly payments they could not afford.

In an assurance of discontinuance filed in Suffolk Superior Court, Caliber has agreed to provide restitution and loan modifications to homeowners in Massachusetts and change its business practices to comply with state law.

The AG’s Office alleges Caliber violated the Massachusetts Act Preventing Unlawful and Unnecessary Foreclosures, known as “35B,” a landmark law passed in 2012 that protects certain borrowers from foreclosure. The law requires creditors to make a good faith effort to avoid foreclosure for borrowers whose mortgage loans have unfair subprime terms.

The AG’s Office began its investigation after observing through the AG’s consumer assistance work that Caliber predominantly offered struggling homeowners loan modifications with payments that were temporarily lower and only covered the interest due on the loan each month. After a few years, however, borrowers would see their mortgage payments balloon to an amount even higher than what they originally were paying and could not afford, setting borrowers up to again face foreclosure.

The AG’s investigation found that Caliber favored these short-term, interest-only loan modifications over permanent, affordable modifications even in cases where a permanent modification was commercially reasonable. The company also routinely gave borrowers the runaround about missing documents required for the loan modification review process.

Under the terms of the settlement, Caliber will provide loan modification relief to Massachusetts borrowers who applied for modifications and were foreclosed upon due in part to Caliber’s conduct. Caliber will also institute a new loan modification program and review Massachusetts borrowers currently on interest-only or short-term modifications to provide them a more sustainable, affordable modification.

Attorney General Maura Healey made the announcement today.

Mortgage servicing companies have a duty to help Massachusetts residents avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes,” said AG Healey. “Our settlement with Caliber will provide relief to borrowers across the state and sends a clear message that we will protect homeowners when companies break the law.”

The AG’s Office has been a national leader in securing restitution and other relief for borrowers from banks and servicers. The office has obtained recoveries and other relief from Morgan StanleyGoldman SachsRoyal Bank of ScotlandCitigroupJPMorgan ChaseCountrywideFremont Investment & LoanOption OneHSBCDitech, Nationstar Mortgage, Shellpoint Mortgage Servicing, PHH and others on behalf of Massachusetts homeowners.

Consumers with questions or concerns about deceptive or abusive foreclosure and loan servicing practices can call the Attorney General’s consumer hotline at 617-727-8400 or file a complaint with the office.

This matter was handled by Assistant Attorneys General Michael Lecaroz and Lisa Dyen and Division Chief Max Weinstein, all of the AG’s Consumer Protection Division.

 

Rodrigo Pardo, 46, Argentina, and Lorena Medina, 46, Ecuador, a South American couple were each sentenced today for conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud.

According to court documents, Pardo and Medina, defrauded homeowners in Northern Virginia and mortgage lenders by promising the homeowners to assist them in obtaining loan modifications. As part of the scheme, Pardo and Medina agreed to negotiate with the homeowners’ lenders for a reduced monthly payment. Pardo and Medina then instructed clients who were current on their mortgages to stop making payments to their lenders as they had in the past, and instead make payments into accounts controlled by Medina, Pardo, or COFS, a company they controlled. At the same time, Pardo and Medina represented to their clients’ mortgage lenders that COFS was authorized to negotiate loan modifications, but concealed from the mortgage lenders that they were receiving mortgage payments from the victims. As a result, Pardo and Medina received over $140,000 in payments from their victims, which they used for personal expenses. http://www.mortgagefraudblog.com/?s=Rodrigo+Pardo

Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Matthew J. DeSarno, Special Agent in Charge, Criminal Division, FBI Washington Field Office, and Robert Manchak, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Office of Inspector General for the Federal Housing Finance Agency, made the announcement after sentencing by Senior U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly R. Pedersen and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Charlie Divine prosecuted the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information is located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:18-cr-181.

Daniel Sheehan, 44, Gloucester City, New Jersey, was sentenced today after pleading guilty to conspiracy, wire fraud, interstate transportation of stolen property, and smuggling narcotics into a federal prison

The convictions stem from Sheehan’s operation of a scheme to obtain payments from people who sought his assistance in refinancing their home mortgages.  Instead of providing the promised assistance, Sheehan stole his clients’ money.  As a result of his illegal scheme, 110 people were defrauded, several of whom lost their homes. While being held in a federal prison awaiting trial, Sheehan arranged to smuggle narcotics into the facility for further distribution.

Between September 2012 and February 2015, Sheehan, a mortgage modification professional, represented to clients that he could help them modify their mortgages through the Home Affordable Mortgage Program (“HAMP”) or the Home Affordable Refinance Program (“HARP”).  He found clients who wished to refinance the mortgages on their residences or other properties. Sheehan assured his victims that they would qualify for a modification that would substantially reduce both the principal and interest components of the victim’s monthly payment.  Sheehan collected a fee of between $700 and $1,500 from each victim for the service of preparing and submitting the paperwork necessary to obtain the promised loan modification.

Despite collecting a fee, Sheehan often failed to submit mortgage refinance applications. In most cases, Sheehan falsely advised his clients that in order to qualify to have their mortgages refinanced, they would need to stop paying their mortgages.  These clients generally received correspondence from financial institutions demanding payment and threatening foreclosure.  Sheehan explained to his victims that these were scare tactics employed by the banks, and that if the client made any additional payments, the client would jeopardize the mortgage modification process.  He also told his clients that they should not communicate with the bank because the collections departments would not have any information about the pending modification.  As a direct result, some clients received court foreclosure complaints and told Sheehan; Sheehan assured them that he or his attorney would handle the situation.  Instead, Sheehan took no action, and some of his victims were evicted and lost their homes.

Additionally, Sheehan falsely told some clients that their modification had been approved.  The defendant often told his clients that their loan modification would not become “final” until they made “trial payments” of their new refinanced mortgage amount.  Sheehan told his victims to make these payments to Sheehan or a person designated by Sheehan.  Sheehan assured his victims that their “trial payments” would be held in escrow by Sheehan.  Although Sheehan sometimes gave his clients what purported to be escrow account statements, he converted his victims’ funds to his own personal use.

Sheehan has been detained at the Federal Detention Center (“FDC”) since April 2016. While incarcerated, the defendant arranged for a friend to illegally send him sheets of the drug Suboxone. On about August 29, 2016, a letter addressed to Sheehan arrived at the FDC purportedly from an attorney in New Jersey. The letter contained eight sheets of Suboxone, which Sheehan intended to use to pay off gambling debts that he owed to other inmates at the FDC.

Sheehan was sentenced to 121 months’ imprisonment and ordered to forfeit $493,075 in criminal proceeds.  Sheehan was also sentenced to a term of three years’ supervised release after his term of imprisonment.

U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain made the announcement.

This defendant has absolutely no shame,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “His victims were often looking to refinance mortgages on their homes due to tragic personal circumstances, such as the death of a spouse or the loss of employment. The defendant repeatedly lied and said he would help them, but instead preyed on their vulnerability and made many of them lose their homes. He is a menace to society who has no respect for the law.

What Daniel Sheehan did to his victims was despicable,” said Michael T. Harpster, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “In feigning assistance with refinancing their mortgages, he gave people hope that better days were ahead. Instead, he blithely pocketed their money despite knowing foreclosure loomed. The FBI takes great pride in bringing defendants like Mr. Sheehan to justice.”

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Paul G. Shapiro.

Rodrigo Pardo, 46, Argentina, and Lorena Medina, 46, Ecuador, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud for orchestrating a loan modification scheme.

According to court documents the pair defrauded homeowners in Northern Virginia and mortgage lenders by promising the homeowners to assist them in obtaining loan modifications. As part of the scheme, Pardo and Medina agreed to negotiate with the homeowners’ lenders for a reduced monthly payment. Pardo and Medina then instructed clients who were current on their mortgages to stop making payments to their lenders as they had in the past, and instead make payments into accounts controlled by Medina, Pardo, or COFS, a company they controlled. At the same time, Pardo and Medina represented to their clients’ mortgage lenders that COFS was authorized to negotiate loan modifications, but concealed from the mortgage lenders that they were receiving mortgage payments from the victims. As a result, Pardo and Medina received over $140,000 in payments from their victims, which they used for personal expenses.

Pardo and Medina pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud and face a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison when sentenced on March 1, 2009. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Nancy McNamara, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, and Robert Manchak, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Office of Inspector General for the Federal Housing Finance Agency, made the announcement after Senior U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III accepted the plea. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly R. Pedersen and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Charlie Divine are prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information is located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:18-cr-181.

Mark Savransky, New York, pleaded guilty today to scamming 32 homeowners out of $568,000 in a mortgage modification scheme.

The defendant operated a mortgage modification business in Nassau County, New York using the name Mark Savran. Between 2008 and 2014, he promised 32 homeowners in Nassau County and elsewhere that after securing modifications, he would hold their mortgage payments in trust and forward them to the financial institutions servicing the homeowners’ mortgages.

Instead, the defendant converted the funds for personal use, stealing approximately $568,000 from these homeowners. Among other things, Savransky used the funds for ATM cash withdrawals, credit card payments, child support, car payments, gasoline, travel expenses, restaurants, grocery stores, department stores and Netflix.

Savransky’s clients were typically residential homeowners who had purchased their homes using a subprime adjustable rate mortgage sometime between 2006 and 2009. When the payments became more than the homeowner could afford, homeowners hired the defendant to assist in obtaining a mortgage modification.

Savransky requested that all paperwork from the bank be given to him and if additional paperwork was sent by the bank to the victim, he demanded that it be given to him immediately, preferably unopened.

The defendant then counseled clients to give him the monthly mortgage payment that was due under the modified mortgage. Savransky informed his clients that he would make the payments on their behalf and, in doing so, create a record of payment that would prevent a lender from denying that payments were made or from reneging on any mortgage modification that was obtained. At the defendant’s request, these payments were mostly made in cash or by check that did not include the payee. Savransky later completed the payee portion of the check, thereby giving him the means to misappropriate the funds.

 Because the mortgage payments weren’t made, lenders started to foreclose on the properties belonging to the defendant’s clients. When some of the homeowners complained to him, some of them received a limited amount of repayment.

Savransky’s victims include residents from Amityville, Baldwin, Bayside, Brentwood, the Bronx, Brooklyn, East Northport, Farmingdale, Hempstead, Hicksville, Huntington, Levittown, Lynbrook, Malverne, Merrick, Mount Vernon, New Hyde Park, Queens Village, Richmond Hill, Riverhead, Uniondale and, Westbury, New York.

The defendant was arrested in August 2015 by NCDA detective investigators and arraigned on grand jury indictment charges in October 2017.

Savransky pled guilty to two counts of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree (a C felony) and one count of Scheme to Defraud Second Degree (an A misdemeanor)

The defendant faces a maximum of one to six years in prison when he is sentenced on January 10. He is due back in court on December 4.

The announcement was made by Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas.

This defendant preyed on vulnerable homeowners during the height of the mortgage crisis and swindled them out of more than a half million dollars,” DA Singas said. “In many cases, homeowners didn’t know they were in trouble until lenders started foreclosing on their homes. I thank the Bronx District Attorney’s Office, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office and the Suffolk County Police Department for referring these cases to us for prosecution.”

This case was initially referred to the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office by the Bronx County District Attorney’s Office. Additional cases were also referred by the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office in conjunction with the Suffolk County Police Department.

Deputy Bureau Chief Peter Mancuso of DA Singas’ Financial Crimes Bureau is prosecuting this case. Joseph Conway, Esq. represents the defendant.