Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Joint Law Enforcement Effort Bags Pair Running Northern California Alleged Loan Modification Racket

From the Office of the California Attorney General:
  • Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. announced charges [] against two "callous con artists" who took thousands of dollars from dozens of struggling Northern California homeowners for foreclosure services never delivered.


  • Angeline Lisa Lizarrago, 68, of Fremont and Michael Douglas Young, 67, of Los Gatos were scheduled to be arraigned [...] on a 23 count complaint for felony fraud and theft they committed at their business, Avemos Financial Group, of Fremont.(1) If convicted, Lizarrago could face more than 15 years in prison. Young, a licensed real estate broker, faces up to 12 years. The case was investigated and prosecuted jointly by the Attorney General and the Alameda County District Attorney.(2)

  • From June 2008 to October 2009, Lizarrago and Young targeted Spanish-speaking homeowners as well as Southeast Asian immigrants, all desperate to save their homes. People stood in line for hours to get into Avemos's waiting room, which was decorated with shrines to the Virgin Mary.

  • Clients seeking help typically paid $1,500 initially. Lizarrago, the owner of Avemos, and Young, Avemos's general manager, promised they would take steps to stop banks from immediately foreclosing on their homes and renegotiate clients' loans to reflect their homes' current market value. Lizarrago and Young guaranteed a refund if they were unsuccessful. Many lost their homes in foreclosure and did not receive a refund.

  • Lizarrago also took advantage of the foreclosure crisis in another way. She told an 89-year-old man and his wife, who wanted to move away from Stockton, that she owned 51 properties, many of which had been foreclosed upon, and she could find them a home in Fremont. She asked for an up-front fee, which she promised to return with interest once the purchase was made. In a series of payments, the couple gave Lizarrago $25,000. She never found them a home, nor returned their money.


  • Lizarrago was moved to Alameda County jail from Chowchilla State Prison, where she was serving a two-year sentence for a prior real estate scam.(3) Young was arrested September 30.

For the California AG press release, see Attorney General Announces Charges Against Two Con Artists Who Took Money From Struggling East Bay Homeowners.

(1) See People v. Lizarrago, Young for the Walk Warrant and Declaration In Support Of Probable Cause.

(2) The California Department of Real Estate and the Fremont Police Department assisted in the investigation, the press release states.

(3) In his Declaration in Support of Probable Cause, Inspector Patrick Johnson stated the following regarding Lizarrago's earlier escapades:

  • I have determined that Lizarrago, born July 13, 1942, has a substantial criminal record dating back to the 1980's and that she has used more than 20 different names. Under the name Angie Terrasas in 1982 she was sentenced to prison out of Santa Clara County for violations of Penal Code section 476a (NSF checks). In 1983 she was sentenced to prison for the same offense out of Fresno County. She was sentenced to prison again for NSF checks issued In Santa Clara County in 1991. Most recently, on September 30, 2009, Lizarraga was sentenced to state prison for two years from Madera County for six counts of grand theft based on her commission of an advance fee scheme -she was charging people to get them home loans but failed to do so. Additionally, in the mid 1980's, under the name Evangelina Areola Terrasas, Lizarraga was convicted by the United States of alien smuggling.