Archives For advance fee scam

Robert E. O’Connor, 68, Florida, formerly of Beverly, Massachusetts, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard G. Stearns to 29 months in prison, three years of supervised release and was ordered to pay restitution of $627,581, in connection with an fraud scheme involving 75 victims throughout the United States, including many in Massachusetts..  In June 2015, O’Connor pleaded guilty to 13 counts of mail fraud and 15 counts of wire fraud, all in connection with a fraudulent advance fee scheme in which individuals were induced to pay up-front fees to his co-defendant, Ann Ursiny, and her business Trace Financial Group, Inc., based on representations that those individuals would receive real estate loans, when in fact Ursiny never intended to make any such loans.  O’Connor participated in the scheme by recruiting people to apply for loans and pay the advance fees.  O’Connor received a “commission” of $1,000 for each person who paid the advance fees.

O’Connor, who was a self-employed mortgage broker before becoming involved with Ursiny in early 2010, personally solicited approximately 35 people to apply for Ursiny’s nonexistent loans, and also referred a Texas loan broker to Ursiny, which resulted in another 40 people being defrauded.  In total, O’Connor was responsible for about $627,000 in losses out of a total of about $933,000 resulting from Ursiny’s scheme.  Although O’Connor was unaware at the beginning that Ursiny was operating a scam, after several months when none of his clients received the promised funding, O’Connor began lying both to prospective applicants to get their fees and to existing clients to quiet their complaints.  O’Connor told them that some of his clients had in fact received loans from Ursiny or Trace, which he knew was untrue.  He also sent a fabricated letter to clients that purported to be from a satisfied customer claiming to have received financing from Trace, knowing the letter was a fake and that none of his clients ever received any funding from Ursiny/Trace.  In fact, victims’ funds were used for Ursiny’s personal and family expenses, and to pay “commissions” to agents.

In May 2016, Ursiny was sentenced 50 months in prison, to be served consecutive to the 71 month federal prison sentence imposed for a separate fraud scheme she orchestrated in Colorado.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division, made the announcement today. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark J. Balthazard of Ortiz’s Economic Crimes Unit.

Rene de Jesus de Leon, 47, Silver Spring, Maryland, his wife, Pedrina Rodriguez Bonilla, 37, Silver Spring, Maryland, and Ana Maritza Gomez, 43, Hyattsville, Maryland, were indicted by a federal grand jury on charges arising from a residential mortgage fraud scheme.

According to the 10-count indictment and court documents, from at least January 2011 to August 2015, the defendants told homeowners who wanted to modify their mortgage loans and prevent foreclosure of their homes that — for an upfront fee, which was usually between $2,000 and $6,000, subsequent monthly payments and a back-end consulting fee — the defendants could lower the homeowners’ monthly payments and allow them to pay off their loans more quickly. The defendants told the victims to make monthly payments to the defendants and to companies they controlled, in lieu of to the homeowners’ lenders, as part of a “principal reduction consulting program.” The companies controlled by defendants were named Marketing Multiservices LLC and Innovative Solutions Services LLC.

According to the indictment and court documents, the conspirators mailed monthly invoices to the homeowner victims. Some of the victims paid Gomez in person each month at her residence, or a co-conspirator would go to the home of the victim to pick up the monthly payment. The defendants told the victims not to open any mail from their lenders and instead provide it to the conspirators. The indictment alleges, however, that the defendants did not negotiate with lenders of behalf of the homeowners.

According to the affidavit supporting the complaint against Bonilla and Gomez, one victim who was actually current on his mortgage made payments to the program, in lieu of his lender, totaling approximately $50,000, including the initial fee. The victim stopped making payments when he received a foreclosure notice from his lender. Another victim told investigators that she made payments to the program totaling at least $20,000, but nevertheless was evicted from her house, had her cars towed, her dogs boarded and her belongings put on the front lawn.

The defendants face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud, and 20 years in prison for each of nine counts of mail fraud.  De Leon and Bonilla are currently detained.  Initial appearances for the three defendants have not yet been scheduled.

The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Deputy Inspector General for Investigations Rene Febles of the Federal Housing Finance Agency Office of Inspector General (FHFA-OIG); Special Agent in Charge Cary A. Rubenstein of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General (HUD-OIG); Chief Henry P. Stawinski of the Prince George’s County Police Department; Postal Inspector in Charge Maria L. Kelokates of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service – Washington Division; and Chief J. Thomas Manger of the Montgomery County Police Department.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the FHFA-OIG, HUD-OIG, Prince George’s County and Montgomery County Police Departments, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office for their work in the investigation.  Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristi N. O’Malley and Special Assistant United States Attorney Jolie F. Zimmerman, who are prosecuting the case.

Tony Huy Havens, 42, Modesto, California, was sentenced to three years and five months in prison for his role in two mortgage fraud schemes.

Havens had earlier pleaded guilty to committing mail fraud and wire fraud in the two schemes, which were charged in separate criminal cases.

According to the indictment in the first scheme, Havens devised an “advance fee” scheme that targeted victims in at least eight states who were seeking multi-million dollar loans for large construction projects that were in danger of foreclosure. Havens provided the victims with fraudulent documents that showed a third-party lender was prepared to make a loan to the victim. On Havens’ instructions, the victims wire-transferred money into a bank account controlled by Havens to pay in advance certain costs associated with the loans. No loans were ever made. In total, Havens represented that he could arrange at least $1.1 billion in financing for at least 15 victim borrowers, and collected at least $248,750 by wire transfers from these victim borrowers.

According to the indictment in the second scheme, Havens arranged to purchase a single family residence in Modesto using two relatives as straw buyers. He obtained a loan in the name of the straw buyers that exceeded the actual selling price of the property, and arranged to have a portion of the purchase price sent back to him, which he used as the down payment for the purchase.

Havens was ordered to self-surrender to begin serving his sentence on April 4, 2016.

Havens was sentenced by United States District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill.  The announcement was made by United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner.  The cases were the product of investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office, and the Federal Housing Financing Agency, Office of Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorneys Mark J. McKeon and Mia Giacomazzi prosecuted the cases.

 

James Thomas, 44, of Villa Rica, Georgia, was arraigned on federal charges of wire fraud and money laundering arising from an alleged advance fee fraud scheme involving $1.7 million.  Thomas was indicted by a federal grand jury on September 15, 2015.  

According to the U.S. Attorney, the charges, and other information presented in court: Between 2008 and 2011, Thomas portrayed his firm, Trilateral Capital and Development LLC (“Trilateral”), as a reputable and well established private equity company that had successfully loaned millions of dollars for real estate development projects. Trilateral’s website and marketing materials contained fraudulent misrepresentations about the firm’s past real estate deals.  Thomas also misrepresented Trilateral’s finances and on least one occasion e-mailed a fraudulent bank statement purporting to show that Trilateral had over $1.6 million in one account.    Continue Reading…

David Gotterup, also known as “David Gott,”, 35, Oceanside, New York, and Jason Green, 35, Oceanside, New York, were charged in an eleven-count indictmenet with conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, and bank fraud in connection with a scheme to defraud homeowners who were attempting to modify their mortgage loans, and related mail fraud counts.  The indictment also charged Gotterup with conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud in connection with a scheme to improperly obtain mortgage loans, and related bank fraud counts, disaster loan fraud, and aggravated identity theft. Continue Reading…

Tony Huy Havens, 42, Modesto, California, pleaded guilty mail fraud and wire fraud in advance fee and straw buyers mortgage fraud schemes.

According to court documents, in the first scheme Havens devised an “advance fee” scheme that targeted victims in at least eight states who were seeking multimillion dollar loans for large construction projects that were in danger of foreclosure. Havens provided the victims with fraudulent documents that showed a third-party lender was prepared to make a loan to the victim. On Havens’ instructions, the victims wired money into a bank account controlled by Havens to pay in advance certain costs associated with the loans. No loans were ever made. In total, Havens represented that he could arrange at least $1.1 billion in financing for at least 15 victim borrowers and collected at least $248,750 by wire transfers from them. Continue Reading…

Ann Elizabeth Ursiny, a/k/a Ann Stone, 51, Florida, pleaded guilty to 19 counts of mail fraud and 17 counts of wire fraud all in connection with a fraudulent advance fee scheme involving approximately 100 victims throughout the United States, including many in Massachusetts in which individuals were induced to pay up-front fees to Ursiny and her entity Trace Financial Group, Inc.  based on representations that those individuals would receive real estate loans, when in fact Ursiny never intended to make any such loans. Ursiny was indicted in May 2014. U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Stearns scheduled sentencing for December 9, 2015. Ursiny’s codefendant, Robert O’Connor, pleaded guilty in June 2015 to participating in the same scheme by recruiting victims to apply for loans and pay the advance fees. O’Connor is scheduled to be sentenced on March 23, 2016. Continue Reading…

David Zak, attorney, Revere, Massachusetts, and his two businesses Zak Law Offices, P.C., and Loan Modification Group, Inc, have been ordered to pay more than $625,000 for targeting homeowners with deceptive advertisements and demanding thousands in illegal advance fees for mortgage modification and foreclosure relief services they failed to deliver.

At a time when homeowners were struggling to afford their mortgages, this attorney abused his clients’ trust and deliberately exploited their financial circumstances by demanding exorbitant fees based on false promises, leaving these homeowners even more vulnerable,” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said. “This judgment puts an end to these deceptive and unfair practices and confirms that those who seek to capitalize on the foreclosure crisis will be held accountable.”  Continue Reading…

Lending Hands of Idaho, Inc., a bogus online lender, appears to have pirated website information from a legitimate Michigan-based company named Lending Hands of Michigan, Inc. raising a warning flag to consumers who may be searching for loans online.

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Ivan Levy, 54, Boynton Beach, Florida, has been arrested for his alleged involvement in an advance fee loan scheme. Levy was charged with nine counts of collecting advanced fees as a loan broker, six counts of grand theft and three counts of petit theft.

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