Sofia Atias, 44, Great Neck, New York, Joseph Atias, 50, Great Neck, Nicholas A. Pellegrini, 51, Garden City, New York, and Paula Berckhoff, 34, Garden City, have been charged with bank fraud and conspiracy for allegedly defrauding Bank of America of over half a million dollars by avoiding foreclosure on a home through a fraudulent short sale of the property to a straw buyer.

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Samuel Paul Bain, aka Paul Bain, 35, Tustin, California, an owner and principal of the businesses, Aminullah Sarpas, aka Amin Sarpas and David Sarpas, 32, Irvine, California, also an owner and principal of the businesses, Damon Grant Carriger, 36, Corona, California, the principal sales manager, and Louis Saggiani, 64, Huntington Beach, California, the manager and chief accountant, have been arrested for allegedly offering bogus loan modification programs to financially distressed homeowners.

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Kevin Lauricella, 29, Thousand Oaks, California, a former Bank of America employee was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison for taking more than $1.2 million in bribes to approve artificially low-price short sales of properties on which the bank held mortgages.

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Eric Reilly, 34, Galloway, New Jersey, was sentenced to 36 months in prison and ordered to pay more than $3 million in restitution for conspiring to defraud owners of timeshare properties. The defendant would falsely state he was calling owners in response to a complaint they had made to timeshare developers and lenders.

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Franklin Thad Harris, 58, and Merlin D. Unruh, 53, both of Grand Junction, Colorado, pled guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Christine M. Arguello to money laundering for submitting false and fraudulent expense documentation, primarily false invoices, which represented various types of construction work that, in fact, had not been completed.

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Michael T. Rand, 52, Alpharetta, Georgia, was convicted of obstruction of justice, among other crimes, by a federal jury after a two week trial.  Trial evidence showed that after being notified of the federal grand jury’s investigation of Beazer Homes USA, Inc. in March 2007, Rand deleted nearly 6,000 emails, obstructing the grand jury investigation then focused on the separate investigation into mortgage fraud at Beazer.

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Karen Strasser Steinke, 65, Millstadt, Illinois, was sentenced to twenty-one months imprisonment followed by three years supervised release as a result of her convictions for Wire Fraud in a scheme to defraud clients of Metro East Title, and Structuring of Financial Transactions to Avoid Currency Transaction Reporting Requirements. Evidence showed that Steinke took the funds to support a gambling habit.

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Gregory Fusca, 46, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, was sentenced to 170 months in prison, in connection with his operation of RC Innovations, Inc. (RCI), a fraudulent timeshare company located in Palm Beach County. Among the false representations for which he was sentenced were claims that: RCI had buyers for their timeshare units; RCI had closing scheduled for their timeshares; and that RCI would actively market their timeshares to potential buyers.

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HOPE NOW, the voluntary, private sector alliance of mortgage servicers, investors, mortgage insurers and non-profit counselors, released its May 2014 loan modification data. An estimated 37,000 homeowners received permanent, affordable loan modifications from mortgage servicers during the month.

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The Castle Law Group, its principals and affiliated foreclosure-related businesses, as well as Aronowitz & Mecklenburg, its principals and affiliated foreclosure-related businesses, are the subjects of civil law enforcement actions for allegedly charging fraudulent and inflated costs for the posting of two statutorily-mandated notices on the homes of borrowers facing foreclosure.

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