Thursday, December 10, 2015

Leader Of Loan Modification Racket That Fleeced 4,000+ Homeowners Out Of $7+ Million Gets 18 Years; Scam Fraudulently Claimed To Operate Program Sponsored By Feds

In Los Angeles, California, the Los Angeles Times reports:
  • Following the housing crash last decade, 21st Century Legal Services Inc. offered homeowners facing foreclosure what seemed like a lifeline.

    All they had to do was pay fees to the Rancho Cucamonga firm, which promised to get their loans modified so their payments would be affordable. In the meantime, they were told they could stop paying their mortgage and communicating with their lenders.

    But it was all part of a fraud that ended disastrously for thousands of customers, according to the U.S. attorney's office, with many still losing their homes after paying fees for services that "were never provided."

    Federal prosecutors charged that 21st Century repeatedly pocketed those fees, cheating 4,000 plus homeowners out of more than $7 million in a nationwide scam.

    On Monday, a federal judge in Riverside sentenced the alleged ring leader and company founder, Andrea Ramirez, 47, of Rancho Cucamonga, to 18 years in federal prison.

    United States District Judge Virginia A. Phillips also ordered Ramirez, who pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, to pay back victims nearly $6.8 million.

    Ten other defendants have also been convicted for their roles at 21st Century, with the last two scheduled to be sentenced later this month.(1)

    "Ramirez and her co-defendants made false promises to desperate homeowners, often took the last of their money and then abandoned them," said U.S Atty. Eileen M. Decker in a statement.
    ***
    It was able to secure business by falsely claiming to operate a program sponsored by the federal government. It promised customers could receive new loan terms with lower interest rates and reduced payments, and that fees would be refunded if 21st Century was unable to obtain the promised modification, according to the indictment.

    However, the company "rarely was successful in obtaining loan modifications for homeowners, and rarely refunded fees to homeowners," the indictment said.

    "They almost never achieved what they promised and it's not clear that they ever achieved what they promised," said Assistant U.S. Atty. Thomas Stout, who is prosecuting the cases. He added that the defendants have been ordered to make their victims whole, but given their remaining assets that's unlikely to happen.
For more, see Company founder gets prison for scheme to defraud distressed homeowners.

(1) See U.S. Attorney (Los Angeles) press release: Operator of Inland Empire Loan Modification Scam that Targeted Distressed Homeowners Sentenced to 18 Years in Federal Prison. The other ten defendants convicted are:
  • Christopher Paul George, 45, of Rancho Cucamonga, co-owner, was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison;

    Crystal Taiwana Buck, 40, of Long Beach, who persuaded numerous victims to pay fees to 21st Century, was sentenced to five years in prison;

    Albert DiRoberto, 62, of Fullerton, who handled both sales and marketing – which included making a commercial for 21st Century – was sentenced to five years in prison;

    Yadira Garcia Padilla, 38, of Rancho Cucamonga – who, among other things, posted bogus positive reviews about 21st Century on the Internet – was sentenced to four years in prison;

    Michael Bruce Bates, of Moreno Valley, was sentenced to one year and one day in prison;

    Michael Lewis Parker, of Pomona, was sentenced to six years in prison;

    Catalina Deleon, of Glendora, is scheduled to be sentenced on December 14;

    Hamid Reza Shalviri, of Montebello, is scheduled to be sentenced on Thursday, December 10;

    Mindy Sue Holt, of San Bernardino, was sentenced to 18 months in prison; and

    Iris Melissa Pelayo, of Upland, was sentenced to four years in prison.

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