Archives For Virginia

Tammy Hamrin, formerly known as Tammy A. Cheek, 58, Virginia Beach, Virginia, the former president of an escrow and title company was sentenced today to 18 months in prison for misappropriating $715,000 of closing funds in connection with 48 real estate transactions for which she served as the settlement agent.

According to court documents, Hamrin was a licensed title and settlement agent and was the president, secretary, and treasurer of Preferred Escrow and Title, Inc. During 48 real estate transactions between January 2018 and approximately February 2018, Hamrin misappropriated $715,000 of closing funds that had been deposited by various lenders and individual buyers into the company’s escrow account. She did so by making seven unauthorized wire transfers of funds from the escrow account to certain entities at the request of a person with whom Hamrin had an online personal relationship.

During this period, Hamrin partially replenished the funds that she had misappropriated by depositing approximately $199,000 of her own money into the escrow account, resulting in a remaining shortage of approximately $516,000. As a result, all 48 closings were affected. Among others, losses were sustained by sellers, buyers, business entities, financial institutions, various lienholders, municipal clerks of court and treasurer offices, and a title insurance company.

Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Brian Dugan, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Raymond A. Jackson.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan M. Salsbury 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 are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 2:21-cr-2.

Brian Thomas Twilley, 57, Greenbackville, Virginia, formerly of Salisbury, Maryland, pleaded guilty yesterday to making a false statement on a loan or credit application.

From 2011 through 2015, Brian Twilley served as a member of the Board of Directors for Hebron Savings Bank, located in Wicomico County, Maryland. Twilley also owned a commercial printing business in Wicomico County and was a member of the faculty for the Economics and Finance Department at Salisbury University.

According to his guilty plea, from April 2010 through March 2017, Twilley provided false personal financial statements to Hebron that omitted from his net worth a $200,000 Home Equity Line of Credit (“HELOC”) due to Bank 2 that should have been paid off and closed with the proceeds of a separate HELOC that Twilley had obtained from Hebron. Twilley also provided false personal financial statements to Bank 3.

As detailed in his plea agreement, in August 2006 Hebron issued Twilley a $350,000 HELOC for the purpose of paying off and closing his $200,000 HELOC at Bank 2. As part of Hebron’s approval of the HELOC it required that Bank 2 release their lien on Twilley’s personal residence so that Hebron could secure a first-position lien on this collateral. On August 28, 2006, Twilley signed a letter addressed to Bank 2 directing them to accept the payoff of the loan, close the HELOC account, and forward the release documents to Hebron. The payoff was funded with a Teller’s Check issued by Hebron in the amount of $200,392.04, but the letter directing Bank 2 to close the loan was never delivered and the HELOC account at Bank 2 remained open. Twilley admitted that he continued to make withdrawals of the available funds in Bank 2’s HELOC and by 2010 had withdrawn the full $200,000 available.

As a member of Hebron’s Board of Directors and as a condition of his ongoing loan relationship with Hebron, which included the $350,000 HELOC and multiple commercial loans, Twilley was required to provide Hebron with an annual personal net worth statement. Twilley admitted that from 2010 through 2014 he provided Hebron with his personal financial statement, but failed to disclose the continued existence of the HELOC with Bank 2, which Hebron believed had been closed since 2006.

Further, in December 2014, as part of a request to renew a $100,000 commercial line of credit for his company with Bank 3, Twilley submitted a personal financial statement to Bank 3 that failed to disclose the existence of the HELOC with Bank 2 and the associated debt. When Twilley was questioned by a representative of Bank 3 as to why his credit report reflected a $200,000 HELOC due to Bank 2 that was not listed on his net worth statement, Twilley falsely advised that the HELOC at Bank 2 had been closed when he opened the HELOC at Hebron. The Bank 3 representative informed Twilley that Hebron may want to contact Bank 2 to have them close out the HELOC because Hebron’s secured position in the collateral might be behind Bank 2 if the lien was not released.

Twilley left his position as a member of Hebron’s Board of Directors in 2015. By 2017, Twilley was having difficulty servicing his debts and Hebron attempted to restructure his loan payments. As part of the negotiations, on March 17, 2017, Twilley again sent a personal financial statement to Hebron that failed to disclose the existence of his debt due on the HELOC with Bank 2, which then had a balance of approximately $176,000, thereby underreporting Twilley’s outstanding obligations. When a representative subsequently suggested that the collateral for the Hebron HELOC be sold, they learned that Bank 2 still held a first-position lien on the property because the HELOC with Bank 2 had never been closed. In July 2018 Twilley declared bankruptcy and Hebron restructured all of Twilley’s personal and commercial debts. In November 2018, the collateral for the HELOC was sold and $163,081.88 of the proceeds was disbursed to Bank 2 as a lien holder in first position, depriving Hebron of the proceeds of the sale.

As part of his plea agreement, Twilley will be required to pay restitution of $163,081.88, the full amount of the victim’s loss.

Twilley faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison for making a false statement on a loan or credit application. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties and are determined by a federal district court judge after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. U.S. District Judge Stephanie A. Gallagher has not yet scheduled a sentencing date for Twilley.

The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K.

Hur; Special Agent in Charge Robert W. Manchak of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General (FHFA OIG); and Special Agent in Charge Shimon R. Richmond of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Office of Inspector General (FDIC OIG).

United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the FHFA OIG and FDIC OIG for their work in the investigation. Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean R. Delaney, who is prosecuting the case.

John Michael Gatchell, 55, Virginia Beach, Virginia was sentenced today to six years in prison for exploiting an elderly man’s for his money and property.

According to court documents,  Gatchell, facilitated a marriage between the elderly man and a woman with whom Gatchell had a long-term relationship in order to gain access to the elderly man’s money and property. Gatchell induced the elderly man to make a down payment on a Jaguar that Gatchell and a family member drove for about 10 months before it was repossessed by the lender when the loan went into default.

Gatchell also induced the elderly man to obtain two mortgage loans and then diverted most of the proceeds to the benefit of himself and others. He subsequently induced the elderly man to sell the property that secured the loans and again diverted most of the proceeds to himself and others. Gatchell used these monies that he fraudulently diverted to himself to purchase concert series tickets, pay delinquent bills, and make a security deposit for a house he leased, among other things.

Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Martin Culbreth, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office, and Peter R. Rendina, Inspector in Charge of the Washington Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen. Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan M. Salsbury 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 are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 2:19-cr-49.

 

Brian Thomas Sapp, 38, formerly of Alexandria, Virginia was sentenced today to nine years in prison for operating a Ponzi scheme that took in approximately $9 million and defrauded over 20 victims of $1.8 million.

According to court documents, Sapp from 2014 through 2018, committed wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in executing the scheme. Sapp preyed on his closest friends and their families, many of whom described Sapp as a “best friend” and “like a brother.” He caused financial hardship to many victims, including those with special needs children.

To execute the scheme, Sapp set up Novus Properties, claiming he had identified distressed single family homes in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia, which he would purchase and then resell to guaranteed buyers. All he needed was investor funds to finance the property flips. On hundreds of occasions, Sapp fabricated a sophisticated set of interlocking purchase, sale, guarantee, and HUD-1 settlement documents to induce victims to part with money. He stole real identities of sellers and buyers and digitally forged their signatures hundreds of times. Sapp bragged that he was “killing it” and “dominating the market.” In reality, he never closed a single deal.

Instead, Sapp used investor money to fund a lavish lifestyle, including golf trips, meals out, and attending wealth-building seminars. Sapp spent $80,000 to purchase and customize a Mercedes van that he outfitted with special rooftop satellite TV antennas and flat screen TVs. Sapp loaded the van with professional grilling equipment, tents, food and beverage service stations, and other amenities so that he could host elaborate tailgating parties at Penn State football games, where he ate and drank with his victims at their expense, unbeknownst to them at the time.

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Matthew J. DeSarno, Special Agent in Charge, Criminal Division, FBI Washington Field Office, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga. Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell L. Carlberg 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-446.

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.

David Tipton, 52, Alexandria, Virginia, was sentenced today to a year and a day in prison for defrauding lenders who provided him with nearly $710,000 towards the purchase and renovation of a residential property in Northeast Washington.

According to the government’s evidence, Tipton owned a company that was created to purchase, renovate, and sell residential real estate in the District of Columbia and Virginia. He signed a contract in January 2013 to purchase a property in the 500 block of 14th Street NE, Washington, DC for $450,000 in cash, planning to renovate and sell the property for a profit. He falsely represented that he had the required funds available to close the cash transaction and created a false bank statement to back up the claim. In fact, almost all of the money for the purchase was coming from two unrelated private individuals whom he had met at a real estate investment seminar. Each of them provided Tipton with $224,497, for a total of $448,994, in return for Deeds of Trust securing their interest in the property.  Tipton did not tell the settlement company about the loans.  As a result, the Deeds of Trust were not recorded.

Additionally, Tipton later obtained $260,000 from a private money lender to renovate the property.  Tipton did not disclose to the lender that two other individuals held Deeds of Trust in the property.

Tipton pled guilty in May 2018, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, to a charge of mail fraud. He was sentenced by the Honorable Senior Judge Paul L. Friedman. Following his prison term, he will be placed on three years of supervised release. He also must pay $448,994 in restitution, as well as an identical amount in a forfeiture money judgment.

The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu and Nancy McNamara, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Liu and Assistant Director in Charge McNamara commended the work of those who investigated the case from the FBI’s Washington Field Office. They also expressed appreciation for the work of those who handled the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including former Assistant U.S. Attorney John P. Marston, former Criminal Investigator Juan Juarez, Paralegal Specialist Aisha Keys, and former Paralegal Specialist Kristy Penny. Finally, they commended the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Saler, who investigated and prosecuted the case.

Timothy Scott Wenk, 51, Chesterfield County, Virginia, was sentenced today to 12 years in prison for defrauding approximately 51 customers of more than $600,000.

According to court documents, Wenk, operated several businesses, including of Premier Consulting Services, Capital Business Services and Premier Credit Consultants, which purported to offer a variety of financial services, including mortgage finance and credit repair services. Wenk offered to connect victims who had credit problems to private lenders and “hard money lenders” who would be sources of financing for mortgages for victims who would be unable to obtain more conventional financing. In many instances, Wenk claimed to be working on victims’ behalf to help them bring home sales to closing, rectify tax liens, and provide other real estate related financial consulting and services. While Wenk’s relationship with each victim and the misrepresentations he made to them was unique, the evidence in the case showed a recurrent theme where Wenk received thousands of dollars for which he did little to nothing in return. Wenk introduced himself to many of his victims as Timothy Scott so that they could not be able to research his criminal history, which included over 20 felony convictions, many of which for fraud-related offenses. In addition to the 12-year sentence imposed, the sentencing judge ordered Wenk to pay victims a total of $606,044.99 in restitution.

Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Adam S. Lee, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Richmond Field Office, and Colonel Jeffrey S. Katz, Chesterfield County Police Department, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian R. Hood 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. 3:17-cr-85.

Imran Awan, 38, Alexandria, Virginia, pled guilty today to a federal charge stemming from a false statement made on a home equity loan.

According to plea documents filed today, on December 12, 2016, while in the District of Columbia, Awan submitted an online application in the name of his wife, Hina Alvi, to a credit union for a home equity line of credit on a property that she owned in Alexandria, Virginia. Awan made a material misrepresentation in the application by stating that the property was his wife’s primary residence and not a rental property. In fact, she was renting the property to tenants at the time. Awan made the misrepresentation because the credit union had a policy of not extending home equity lines of credit on rental properties. On January 5, 2017, the credit union offered a home equity line of credit of $165,000. Then, between January 12 and January 18, 2017, the credit union transferred $165,000 into the account. Awan paid off the balance on January 18, 2017.

Awan and his wife were indicted on federal charges related to the loan in August 2017. Both had pled not guilty to the charges. Under the plea agreement with Awan, the government agreed to ask the Court to dismiss all charges against Alvi at the time that Awan is sentenced.

The charge carries a statutory maximum of 30 years in prison. Under federal sentencing guidelines, he faces a likely range of zero to six months of incarceration. The Honorable Tanya S. Chutkan scheduled sentencing for Aug. 21, 2018.

The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu, Matthew R. Verderosa, Chief of the United States Capitol Police, and Matthew J. DeSarno, Special Agent in Charge, of the FBI Washington Field Office’s Criminal Division.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Capitol Police and the FBI’s Washington Field Office. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.

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  Hometown Conviction Sentence
Sammy Araya, 41

Santa Ana, California

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

Costa Mesa, California

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

Anaheim, California

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

Santa Ana, California

Pleaded guilty March 22, 2016 220 months in prison on Aug. 18, 2016
Joshua Sanchez, 37

Las Vegas, Nevada

Pleaded guilty July 8, 2015 151 months in prison on Oct. 29, 2015
Kristen Ayala, 32

Las Vegas, Nevada

Pleaded guilty August 4, 2015 135 months in prison on Oct. 29, 2015
Isaac Perez, 33

Los Angeles

Pleaded guilty March 30, 2016 130 months in prison on Sept. 1, 2016
Joshua Johnson, 36

Huntington Beach, California

Pleaded guilty March 30, 2016 121 months in prison on July 7, 2016
Jefferson Maniscan, 34

Los Angeles

Pleaded guilty March 29, 2016 120 months in prison on Aug. 18, 2016
Nicholas Estilow, 34

Mission Viejo, California

Pleaded guilty January 18 80 months in prison on June 1, 2017

 

Raymund Dacanay, 47

Newport Beach, California

Pleaded guilty March 29, 2016 60 months in prison on July 21, 2016
Sabrina Rafo, 24

Garden Grove, California

Pleaded guilty January 19 60 months in prison on June 1, 2017

 

 

Sammy Araya, 41, Santa Ana, California, Michael Henderson, 49,Costa Mesa, California, and Jen Seko, 36, Anaheim, California, were convicted by a federal jury in connection with their operation of a nationwide, multi-year “home mortgage modification” fraud that scammed hundreds of victims out of at least $10 million.

This is the same scheme that Kristen Ayala, whose sentence I wrote about in Comment on Sentencing of Kristen Ayala was involved with.

According to court records and evidence presented at trial, Araya, Henderson, and Seko operated a large-scale “home mortgage modification” scam that victimized vulnerable individuals and families across the country for several years. The conspirators sent targeted mass mailers to homeowners facing foreclosure through Seko’s company, Seko Direct Marketing. The mailers referenced real federal programs designed to help struggling homeowners, such as the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), and were titled “Notice of HUD Relief,” “Notice of Mortgage Relief,” and “New HAMP Benefits,” among other misleading titles. The mailers listed various toll-free telephone numbers for the homeowners to call for assistance. When a victim homeowner who had been solicited via a mass mailing called the toll-free number listed on the mailer, a member of the conspiracy posing as a “customer service representative” would answer the phone and collect financial information from the victim, as well as inquire about the victim’s mortgage and how far behind the victim was on his or her mortgage payments. The victims were told the information would be reviewed to determine if they qualified for a mortgage modification. Instead, the information was used by the conspirators to determine how much money could be stolen from the victim. Henderson served as one of the purported “customer service representatives” and helped to distribute the money collected by the scam, while Araya was the mastermind and principal beneficiary of the entire fraudulent operation.

According to court records and evidence presented at trial, after being contacted by another member of the conspiracy and told that their mortgage modification had been approved, the victim homeowner would be told that their lender required a “reinstatement fee,” usually in the amount of thousands of dollars. Victims were also told that they were required to make several “trial” mortgage modification payments. After these so-called “trial payments” were completed, their modification would be complete and their new lower mortgage payment would become permanent for the life of the loan.

Throughout this process, the members of the conspiracy represented themselves to homeowners in mass mailings, phone calls, emails, and other communications using a laundry list of aliases and fictitious entity names. Some of those fictitious entities included “Equity Restoration Group,” “Neighborhood Counseling Services of America,” and “Home Retention Center,” among many others. The conspirators changed their aliases and entity names regularly, in an effort to evade detection by law enforcement. The conspirators also falsely represented themselves as a “non-profit” organization or as affiliated with the federal government or the victims’ lenders, and they directed the victims to make their checks and money orders payable to other fake entities, such as “Payment Processing Services,” “Default Servicing,” and “Trust Funding.” They then opened bank accounts using those false entity names, and used those bank accounts to briefly deposit victim payments before withdrawing the funds and distributing the proceeds among the members of the conspiracy.

The victims of this scheme dutifully sent their payments to the fraudulent entities as instructed by the conspirators, only to discover that they had not been granted a mortgage modification by their lenders. When victims confronted the members of the conspiracy about this fact, the conspirators would make lulling statements designed to reassure the victims, such as telling them that the mortgage modification process takes time, and that they were dealing with individuals at a higher level at the bank than the lender representatives with whom the victims had spoken. In reality, however, the members of the conspiracy were simply diverting the victims’ payments for their own personal benefit, without doing anything to assist in modifying the victims’ mortgages. Araya, the ringleader of the scheme, used the proceeds of the fraud 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.

These defendants scammed hundreds of individuals and families who were trying desperately to save their homes,” said Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Their crimes were rooted in dishonesty and greed, and they shamelessly enriched themselves at their victims’ expense. I am very pleased with the convictions and want to commend the efforts of the Assistant United States Attorneys and our investigative partners for their terrific work on this important and complex case.”

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

Name, Age

Hometown

Result

Sentencing

Sammy Araya, 41

Santa Ana, California

Convicted on Counts 1-11 of superseding indictment at trial today Faces maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on each count of conviction
Michael Henderson, 49

Costa Mesa, California

Convicted on Counts 1-6 and 9-11 of superseding indictment at trial today Faces maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on each count of conviction
Jen Seko, 36

Anaheim, California

Convicted on Counts 1-6 and 9-11 of superseding indictment at trial today Faces maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on each count of conviction
Roscoe Umali, 38

Santa Ana, California

Pleaded guilty March 22, 2016 220 months in prison on Aug. 18, 2016
Joshua Sanchez, 37

Las Vegas, Nevada

Pleaded guilty July 8, 2015 in case 1:15cr147 151 months in prison on Oct. 29, 2015
Kristen Ayala, 32

Las Vegas, Nevada

Pleaded guilty August 4, 2015 in case 1:15cr147 135 months in prison on Oct. 29, 2015
Isaac Perez, 33

Los Angeles

Pleaded guilty March 30, 2016 130 months in prison on Sept. 1, 2016
Joshua Johnson, 36

Huntington Beach, California

Pleaded guilty March 30, 2016 121 months in prison on July 7, 2016
Jefferson Maniscan, 34

Los Angeles

Pleaded guilty March 29, 2016 120 months in prison on Aug. 18, 2016
Raymund Dacanay, 47

Newport Beach, California

Pleaded guilty March 29, 2016 60 months in prison on July 21, 2016
Nicholas Estilow, 34

Mission Viejo, California

Pleaded guilty January 18, 2017 Faces maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on June 1.
Sabrina Rafo, 24

Garden Grove, California

Pleaded guilty January 19, 2017 Faces maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on June 1.

 

Araya faces a maximum penalty of 220 years in prison, and Henderson and Seko each faces a maximum penalty of 180 years in prison when sentenced on July 19.

Today justice was served to three scam artists who preyed upon hundreds of desperate homeowners taking money in exchange for empty promises of admission into the HAMP program,” said Christy Goldsmith Romero, Special Inspector for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). “This was a scheme of deception and thievery: the defendants pocketed the homeowner dollars but did nothing to help their victims. I thank U.S. Attorney Boente and his team for their hard work and commitment protecting homeowners getting help through HAMP.”

“These defendants preyed upon innocent homeowners when they were at their most vulnerable, and simply trying to save their homes,” said Leslie DeMarco, Special Agent in Charge, Western Region, Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General. “These egregious schemes victimize homeowners and entire communities, and today a jury held them accountable for their actions. We are proud to work with our law enforcement partners on this case, and will continue to work with them to bring to justice all individuals who attempt to defraud unwitting victims.”

Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Christy Goldsmith Romero, Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP); William Hedrick, Acting Inspector in Charge of the Los Angeles Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; Leslie DeMarco, Special Agent in Charge for the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA-OIG); and James Todak, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, Los Angeles Field Office, made the announcement after Senior U.S. District Judge James C. Cacheris accepted the verdict. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Samantha P. Bateman and Ryan S. Faulconer are prosecuting the case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Zach Terwilliger and James Gillis formerly prosecuted the case.