Luis Belevan, 34, Phoenix, Arizona, pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiring to commit wire fraud and mail fraud. Belevan and his co-conspirator, were charged with defrauding at least 1,800 local distressed homeowners out of a $1,595 up-front fee for bogus promises of assistance in avoiding home foreclosure in 2009 and 2010.
Belevan admitted in his guilty plea proceedings to telling homeowners who were unable to make their mortgage payments that his company, The Guardian Group, would purchase and refinance their mortgages based on the lower property values that followed the housing market crash of 2007.
Belevan falsely claimed that his company had access to a $40 billion hedge fund for this purpose, when it actually had no financing at all. Belevan‘s company charged each homeowner a $1,595 up front fee, generating almost $3 million in funds in just nine months, which he and others used for personal expenses and for other failed business ventures.
A conviction for conspiracy carries a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment, a $250,000, or both. In determining an actual sentence, the judge will consult the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide appropriate sentencing ranges. The judge, however, is not bound by those guidelines in determining a sentence.
As part of his plea agreement, Belevan agreed to pay restitution to the victims in the amount of $2,871,000.
Sentencing is set before Judge Teilborg on January 9, 2012.
The investigation in this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The prosecution is being handled by Monica Klapper, Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona, Phoenix.
“This defendant, owner of The Guardian Group, LLC, left over 1,800 victims in his wake,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Ann Birmingham Scheel. “The defendant used false promises on the company website to convince consumers that it could help them save their homeâ€”if the homeowner paid an upfront fee. The unfortunate reality was that the homeowners were never helped and they were scammed out of their hard-earned money. I want to thank the FBI for its work in this investigation and its continued efforts to address mortgage fraud.”
Special Agent in Charge, Phoenix Division, James L. Turgal, said, “The Phoenix metropolitan area has been severely impacted by the vast number of housing foreclosures. In many instances, a frustrated public, desperate to save their homes, have turned to re-modification companies, only to find empty promises and no relief. The plea of Belevan illustrates but one example of an individual taking advantage of the public’s trust and vulnerability by defrauding the public for their own personal gain. The FBI’s Mortgage Fraud Task Force and the United States Attorney’s Office will continue to investigate and prosecute those involved in foreclosure rescue scams to the fullest extent of the law.”