Emily Suzanne Vasquez, 47, Inglewood, California, was sentenced in Nevada 12-48 months in prison after being convicted of one count of attempted theft, a category “C” felony. Vasquez was sentenced as a result of a local, state and federal investigation of a complex mortgage fraud scheme. Vasquez was also ordered to pay nearly $53,000 in restitution to her five victims.

Vasquez and other defendants operated a scheme to defraud five homeowners struggling to pay their mortgages and in danger of losing their homes. The victims were lead to believe that Vasquez’ alleged company, California Sky, would perform one or more services, including preventing the foreclosure of their homes, lowering their mortgage payments and refinancing their mortgages and reduce the payment and principal. Vasquez failed to perform any of these services, and all five of her victims lost their homes after paying Vasquez and California Sky more than $50,000.

The consequences for vulnerable homeowners who fall victim to scams like this one are devastating,” said Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt . “My Office will continue to investigate and prosecute frauds like this one to deter future scams and ensure the safety of Nevada’s homeowners.”

This case was investigated by Investigator Jaclyn O’Malley, and was prosecuted by Senior Deputy Attorney General Eric Nickel.

 

Mohsin Raza, 51, Chantilly, Virginia, along with his wife, Humaira Iqbal, 39, Chantilly, Virginia, and her two brothers, Farukh Iqbal, 41, Chantilly, Virginia, and Mohammad Ali Haider, 33, Chantilly, Virginia, were convicted by a federal jury on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting a financial institution and various counts of wire fraud affecting a financial institution.

The defendants were indicted on April 23, 2015.  According to court records and evidence at trial, in 2005, Raza, then employed at Bank of America, was hired by SunTrust Mortgage (STM) as a vice president tasked with opening an office in Annandale, Virginia.  Raza hired his wife, another former loan officer from Bank of America, and her brothers, Farukh Iqbal and Haider, to work as loan officers.   From 2006 until 2007, they falsified loan applications for borrowers and purchased fake tax documents to support the false loan applications.  Sun Trust Mortgage underwriters in Richmond approved the loans based in large part upon the fake documents in the files, and borrowers were given loans to buy homes that they could not afford. Continue Reading…

Cynthia Wallace, 45, Chicago, Illinois was charged with posing as a federal housing representative to scam homeowners out of cash.  Wallace was charged with one count of falsely assuming and pretending to be an officer of the United States.  Last month Wallace posed as an official from the “Federal Housing Authority” and “H.U.D.” in numerous phone calls she placed to Chicago-area homeowners, according to a criminal complaint and affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago.  During the calls, Wallace said the federal government would foreclose on the victims’ homes unless they wired money to a location determined by Wallace.

One of Wallace’s intended targets was a 79-year-old woman from the West Side of Chicago, the complaint states.  Two other targets – a husband and wife from south suburban Harvey – wired more than $3,500 to Wallace, according to the complaint. Continue Reading…

Michael Nazarinia, 41, San Diego, California, was sentenced to 9 months in custody for his role in a fraudulent mortgage loan modification business that duped hundreds of struggling homeowners.

The business, known as “Haffar & Associates,” owned by figurehead attorney Mohamed Haffar, recruited new customers using telemarketers who lied to clients in order to induce more than 1,000 people to sign up to pay more than $3.5 million in total.

Nazarinia’s co-conspirator Charles Rose managed a call center staffed with as many as 30 telemarketers, whose job was to recruit new clients.  Rose trained the telemarketers, wrote telemarketing scripts for use on calls with potential clients, wrote form letters for the salespeople to send to potential clients, and recorded his own sales calls for telemarketers to emulate.  Rose pleaded guilty in July, admitting that he and his business partners, including Nazarinia, trained telemarketers to make statements to potential clients that were false, such as the following: Continue Reading…

Michael Yant, 40, Lexington, South Carolina, was sentenced to five months of incarceration, to be followed by five months home confinement,  in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme.   Yant also was ordered to pay almost $270,000 in restitution to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Evidence presented at the change of plea hearing established that between November 2011 and December 2013, Yant and others committed mortgage fraud on approximately fifteen Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans. Specifically, Yant engaged in a prohibited rent-to-own scheme.  Yant collected rent from future buyers and used those funds for the buyer’s down payment at closing. Further, Yant added buyers to other people’s credit accounts as authorized users to enhance the buyer’s credit scores

Yant admitted to falsifying and submitting bank statements of buyers, paying off buyers’ debt and collection accounts, as well as falsifying buyers’ vehicle bills of sale in an effort to forge the origination of the buyer’s down payments. Also, Yant provided forged W-2’s and paystubs for buyers, as well as prepared false employment verifications to conceal the buyer not being an employee of certain businesses.  Further, Yant secured FHA loans for buyers who would not otherwise qualify by paying off the buyers’ debt and collection accounts to increase the buyers’ credit scores.

The case was investigated by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of the Inspector General, and the United States Postal Inspection Service.  Assistant United States Attorney Winston Holliday of the Columbia office prosecuted the case.   The sentenced was announced by United States Attorney Bill Nettles.

Jeffrey T. Crothers, 50, Stockton, California, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

According to court documents, Crothers, while working for National City Mortgage in Stockton, conspired with at least one other person to defraud National City Bank, which funded the mortgages. In 2006, Crothers submitted a loan application that falsely represented that the loan applicant was the actual borrower, that the loan applicant’s monthly income was higher than it actually was, and that the property being purchased was to be the loan applicant’s primary residence when it was not. The loan applicant was selected because of his good credit, but was unable to make the monthly payments for the loan.

Crothers also submitted a letter that contained a false explanation as to why the loan applicant was purchasing the property. The false letter was used to satisfy a condition for the issuance of the loan. National City Bank sustained a loss of approximately $87,000.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys John K. Vincent and Christiaan H. Highsmith are prosecuting the case.  The plea was announced by United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner.

Crothers is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. on May 20, 2016. Crothers faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Angelo Alleca, 46, Buffalo, New York, and Mark Morrow, 54, Cincinnati, Ohio, were arraigned on charges of orchestrating a multi-million dollar investment fraud scheme.  The Defendants marketed several funds that were supposed to invest in certain assets/investments, such as hedge funds managed by a professional money manager of mortgage debt.  According to the new indictment, they instead used the money to pay redemptions to earlier investors, to acquire and operate several businesses, and to pay personal expenses.

According to U.S. Attorney John Horn, the indictment, and other information presented in court: From on or about 2004 until 2012,  Alleca acted as the President and Chief Operating Officer of Summit Wealth Management, an investment adviser headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. During that time, Alleca started several funds and falsely misrepresented that money would be invested in hedge funds and debt securities and managed by professional investment managers. Continue Reading…

Thomas Franklin Tarbutton, 56, Newport Beach, California, a hard money lender, was convicted by a jury of embezzling over $3 million from investors in a Ponzi real estate-mortgage investment fraud scheme.

Between 2004 and 2010, Tarbutton operated Villa Capital Inc. as a “hard money” lender who solicited money from private investors for borrowers looking for funds from non-bank lenders. The defendant defrauded eleven people in a Ponzi real estate mortgage investment fraud scheme. Continue Reading…

Randy Poulson, 44, Woolwich Township, New Jersey, was sentenced to 72 months in prison for scamming distressed homeowners into giving him their houses and then soliciting fake real estate investments from private investors – secured by those same properties – that netted him more than $3 million in illicit profits.  Poulson previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Renée Marie Bumb to Count One of an indictment charging him with mail fraud.

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

Poulson owned and operated Equity Capital Investments, LLC and Poulson Russo LLC and was the former president of the South Jersey Real Estate Investors Association. Paulson gave speeches, seminars, monthly dinners and various private tutorial sessions, purporting to teach real estate investing tips to individuals who paid fees to attend. Continue Reading…

Aria Maleki, 33, of Santa Ana, California; Mehdi Moarefian, a.k.a. “Michael Miller,” 36, of Irvine, California; Kowit Yuktanon, a.k.a. “Eric Cannon,” 31, of Huntington Beach, California; Cuong Huy King, a.k.a. “James Nolan” and “Jimmy, 32, of Westminster, California; Daniel Shiau, a.k.a. “Scott Decker,” 30, of Irvine, California; Serj Geuttsoyan, a.k.a. “Anthony Kirk,” 33, of Santa Ana, California; Michelle Lefaoseu, a.k.a. “Michelle Bennett,” 41, of Huntington Beach, California; were charged in a 14 count-indictment with conspiracy and fraud offenses stemming from an alleged scheme to defraud homeowners across the United States who were seeking mortgage loan modifications

Law enforcement seized approximately $350,000 from various bank accounts, approximately $362,000 from a Bitcoin account, a $100,000 cashier’s check, and a 2013 Ferrari 458 Italia.  Continue Reading…