Aruna Kumari Chopra, 66, of Modesto, today to one year and one day in prison, to be followed by a year of home confinement, for her mail fraud conviction in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme

According to court documents, in 2008, Chopra purchased property on Dale Road, Modesto, California, that she intended to develop into a shopping center to be called “The Plaza at Dale.” She defrauded lenders by filing documents with the Stanislaus County Recorder’s Office that contained forged signatures in an attempt to conceal liens on the property from her lenders. The loans made by the defrauded lenders on the property totaled approximately $8.9 million. Chopra pleaded guilty on November 30, 2015. Continue Reading…

Ligia Sandoval Spafford (Sandoval), 48, Roseville, California, was sentenced  by U.S. District Judge Troy L. Nunley to two years and three months in prison for a scheme to defraud distressed homeowners Sandoval was ordered to self-surrender on June 9, 2016.

Sandoval paid $115,065.00 in restitution, the full amount of restitution ordered by the Court, to compensate the victims for the losses that they incurred as a result from this fraud scheme. In February 2015, Sandoval and her then husband, Martin Wayne Flanders, 51, Roseville, California, pleaded guilty to mail fraud for the fraud scheme. On October 29, 2015, Flanders was sentenced to six years and five months in prison.

In sentencing, Judge Nunley stated: “She knew what was going on and enticed these people to become part of this scheme. They trusted her. … She ruined some peoples’ lives. That she paid restitution does not do anything to take away from the anxiety and fear they [the victims] had at the time that this was occurring. These victims were devastated.Continue Reading…

Joseph Pasquale, 39, Worcester, Massachusetts, to four years and nine months in federal prison for conspiracy to commit bank fraud and bank fraud. A federal jury found him guilty in January 2016.

According to testimony and evidence presented at trial, Pasquale worked as a real estate sales associate for a brokerage based in Cape Coral, Massachusetts. Between October 2007 and March 2008, he was involved in the negotiation and sale of four condominium units at the Arbors of Carrollwood, to clients in California and Massachusetts. Pasquale engaged in a conspiracy to conceal sales incentives from mortgage lenders, which these clients received from the seller, along with private loans that Pasquale made to the buyer-clients enabling them to bring cash to their respective real estate closings. As a consequence of his actions, Pasquale helped to cause a loss of approximately $937,000 to Wells Fargo Bank when the mortgages involved in the case went into foreclosure.

Pasquale was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Kovachevich.  The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General. It was prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor and Assistant United States Attorney Jay L. Hoffer.

Stevie McDonald, 41, Winter Haven, Florida was indicted and charged with multiple counts of bank fraud and a conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

According to the indictment, McDonald participated in a conspiracy to defraud federally insured financial institutions in connection with multiple residential mortgage loans made by JP Morgan Chase Bank and Washington Mutual Bank. Along with others, McDonald was involved in the submission of false and fraudulent information to the lenders, which induced the lenders to make the mortgage loans. Subsequently, the recipients of these loans defaulted on those mortgages and the banks sustained losses of approximately $509,221.

If convicted on all counts, he faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison for each count. The indictment also notifies the defendant that the United States is seeking a money judgment in the amount of $509,221, the approximate loss amount that the financial institutions sustained in this case.

The unsealing of the indictment was announced by United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III.  The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jay L. Hoffer.

Roscoe Umali, 38, Los Angeles, California; Jefferson Maniscan, 34, Los Angeles, California; Raymund Dacanay, 47, Los Angeles, California; Isaac Perez, 33, Los Angeles, California; and Joshua Johnson, 36, Los Angeles, California;  pleaded guilty for their roles in a nationwide home loan modification scam that defrauded over 400 homeowners out of over $3.8 million.

According to statements of facts filed with their plea agreements, from at least October 2012 through September 2014, the defendants and their co-conspirators targeted struggling homeowners and made a series of misrepresentations to induce those homeowners to make payments of thousands of dollars in exchange for supposed home loan modification assistance.  Operating under the names of fictional companies like “Equity Restoration Group,” the defendants falsely held themselves out as a non-profit organization or as affiliated with a real government program, the “Home Affordable Modification Program” (HAMP), designed to help homeowners at risk of foreclosure. Through mass mailings, phone calls, faxes, and emails with their victims, the defendants convinced homeowners to send them “reinstatement fees” and to make several monthly “trial mortgage payments” to the conspiracy, rather than to the homeowners’ lenders.  The defendants then did nothing to help modify any mortgages.  Instead, they used the victims’ payments for their own personal benefit and to further the fraud scheme. Continue Reading…

Angel Garcia-Oliver, 49, Miami, Florida, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud.  He faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison.

According to the plea agreement, Garcia-Oliver was the principal of Garcia-Oliver & Mainieri, P.A., a law firm located in Coral Gables, Florida.  Tribute Residential, LLC, which was owned by a co-conspirator, owned and sold multiple communities.  Garcia-Oliver, or employees working at his direction, served as settlement agents and conducted dozens of real estate closings for condominium units owned by Tribute, including Cypress Pointe in Orlando, Florida and the Villas at Lakeside in Oviedo, Florida. Continue Reading…

Amaziah Yahalom, who also goes by Andre C. Page, 35, Los Angeles, California pleaded guilty to one count of tax evasion, arising from his role in a mortgage fraud scheme in which he failed to report the proceeds of the fraud on his income tax return.  He admitted in court that the mortgage fraud scheme in which he participated caused losses of $800,000 to WMC Mortgage and $425,000 to PHH Mortgage.

According to documents filed with the court, in 2005, after falling behind on his mortgage payments for his Beachwood Drive home in Los Angeles, California, co-schemer William Beard was referred to Yahalom and another unidentified co-defendant for assistance in eliminating his mortgage on the property. That scheme involved a series of false documents, including a fraudulent Full Reconveyance purportedly authorized by the lender that was instead signed by Beard’s two roommates. The purpose of the Reconveyance was to make it appear as if Beard had paid off his mortgage through the false representation that Beard’s roommates were authorized to declare the mortgage satisfied.  Continue Reading…

Ryan Geddes, 44, Litchfield, Connecticut was sentenced to 30 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for participating in multiple conspiracies involving a series of real estate transactions intended to shield assets from creditors.

According to court documents and statements made in court, Geddes had accrued a series of debts as of late 2005, and was the subject of various lawsuits and collection efforts for the next several years.  A bank fraud conspiracy commenced in November 2005 when Geddes sold a lakefront home located at 27 Palmer Road, Morris Connecticut to Thomas Provenzano.  Lacking the funds to qualify for the $923,000 mortgage, Provenzano nonetheless obtained the loan based on an application that falsely listed his income as $20,000 per month, or $240,000 annually, and falsely listed Provenzano as having worked for several years as the Operations Manager for one of Geddes’s construction companies.  Provenzano had not worked in that capacity, and had earned substantially less.  The loan application also listed Geddes’s company as having verified Provenzano’s employment.  In November 2006, Provenzano refinanced the loan, obtaining a $936,000 mortgage from a federally insured bank.  The new loan application, like the prior one, falsely listed Provenzano as employed by Geddes’s construction company, and falsely listed his monthly income as $28,000, or $336,000 annually.  The application again listed Geddes’s company as having verified Provenzano’s employment.  The loan is now in default, and the 27 Palmer Road property is in foreclosure. Continue Reading…

Adel Afkarian, 42, Carlsbad, California, and Atef Afkarian, 40, Slidell, Louisiana, were sentencedto prison for their role in a fraudulent “debt elimination” scheme that purported to eliminate the mortgages on several million-dollar homes in San Diego, California.

U.S. District Judge John A. Houston sentenced Adel Afkarian to serve 18 months in custody and Atef Afkarian to serve 13 months.  In addition to the time in custody, the brothers who are both former real estate brokers, were both ordered to pay more than $5.5 million in restitution to the victims of the scheme.

To implement the scheme, the Afkarians identified underwater homeowners—including themselves—and began a process to make it appear as though the homeowners’ debts had been satisfied.  To do so, they recorded fraudulent deeds that purported to extinguish the large mortgage loans encumbering each property.  They then sold the properties to innocent purchasers, deceiving the buyers into paying the full purchase price to the Afkarians or their co-conspirators.  The mortgage lenders, unaware of the fraudulent documents recorded on title or unable to prevent the sale in time, were left unpaid.  Continue Reading…

Sung Ho Mo, a/k/a “Douglas Mo,” 53, Totowa, New Jersey, a self-employed loan broker, admitted using bogus documents and simultaneous applications at multiple banks to fraudulently obtain home equity lines of credit, resulting in losses of $1.3 million.  Mo pleaded guilty  before U.S. District Judge Katharine S. Hayden to an information charging him with conspiracy to commit bank fraud.  He was previously arrested on August. 4, 2015 and released on bail.

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

Mo was the primary owner and operator of “Douglas Mo Mortgage,” a mortgage brokerage business in New Jersey. From 2005 through January 2014, Mo conspired with others, including a tax preparer, to fraudulently obtain home equity lines of credit and first mortgages. Continue Reading…