Archives For California

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…

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.

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…

Martin Calzada, 28, Los Angeles, California was indicted by a federal grand jury with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and mail fraud, in connection with a scheme to defraud homeowners facing foreclosure. Calzada entered a plea of not guilty at his arraignment.

According to court documents, between August 2010 and October 2011, Calzada, and other employees of Star Reliable Mortgage, which had offices in Bakersfield, Visalia, and Salinas, California, targeted distressed homeowners with a fraudulent “loan elimination” scheme. Star Reliable charged clients an upfront fee — ranging from $2,500 to $4,500 — as well as monthly fees, based on false promises that the clients could own their homes “free and clear” as a result of Star Reliable’s services. In furtherance of the scheme, Calzada and other employees filed at county recorders’ offices fraudulent documents on behalf of the homeowner-clients that purported to replace the legitimate property trustees with fictitious trusts affiliated with Calzada and Star Reliable, all in an effort to “cloud title” and halt or stall the foreclosure process. Additionally, Calzada, and other employees working at his direction, told clients to stop paying their mortgages. They also falsely represented that each client had one million dollars in a U.S. government account that could be used to pay off a homeowner’s mortgage. Continue Reading…

Diane Cobb, 58, Ada, Ohio, was sentenced to 41 months in prison  for her role in a Ponzi scheme.  The sentencing follows a guilty plea in which Cobb admitted to running a fraudulent scheme with co-defendant Paul Sloane Davis through which they profited by more than a million dollars.

Cobb was charged by indictment on October 31, 2013, for her part in the scheme.  According to the indictment, Davis and Cobb operated a financial services company in Marin County known as DM Financial.  Davis and Cobb, through DM Financial, allegely offered investors the opportunity to fund purported “bridge loans” to borrowers who, according to Davis and Cobb, needed short-term financing for residential real estate transactions.  Cobb was charged with providing investors with, among other things, the identity of the purported borrower, a promissory note reflecting the amount and terms of the loan, and a deed of trust securing the loan to the borrower’s real property.  Based upon these documents and other representations made by Davis and Cobb, the investors believed the defendants were directing the funds into secured loans with borrowers.  Continue Reading…

Ataollah Aminpour aka John Aminpour, aka Johnny Aminpour, the former chief marketing officer at Mirae Bank, 57, Beverly Hills, California was indicted by a federal grand jury on eight counts of bank fraud and making false statements in connection with allegations that he was responsible for the bank issuing $150 million in fraudulent loans – loans that caused the bank to suffer $33 million in losses and were “a significant factor in Mirae Bank’s failure as a financial institution in 2009.”

According to the indictment, Aminpour held himself out as a successful businessman who could help people obtain financing for gas station and car wash businesses with little or no down payment. In some cases, Aminpour personally identified businesses to be purchased and negotiated a sale price, but he allegedly overstated the actual purchase price to buyers. For these buyers and others whom Aminpour introduced to Mirae Bank, the indictment alleges that Aminpour oversaw the loan process and provided loan officers with information and documentation that contained false facts and figures, including the actual purchase price of the business and the source of the down payment. As a result, Mirae Bank funded inflated loans, with excess funds secretly going to Aminpour, borrowers and/or “hard money lenders” who had surreptitiously provided funds used to make down payments. Continue Reading…

Zalathiel Aguila, 42, Vallejo, California, and Omar Anabo, 53, Vallejo, California pleaded guilty to conspiracy to make false statements on loan applications.

According to court documents, between October 2004 and May 2007, Aguila and Anabo operated Vallejo‑based Capital Access LLC, an entity targeting homeowners facing foreclosure. The defendants’ “Keep Your Home” program purported to be a temporary rescue plan whereby “qualified investors” took over the mortgages while the homeowners paid rent and worked on rebuilding their credit. The defendants convinced homeowners to sign over title to their homes, which were then sold to straw buyers. The straw buyers obtained loans under fraudulent pretenses by claiming on loan applications that, for example, they intended to occupy the homes as primary residences and that no part of the down payment for the purchase was borrowed. In fact, Capital Access provided the down payment amounts, and the straw buyers never intended to live in the properties. The defendants stripped the equity from the homes and used it to pay the operating expenses of Capital Access, additional fraudulent home purchases, monthly housing payments on the homes for a limited period of time, and personal expenses. Continue Reading…

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.

 

Robert Jacobsen, 67, formerly of Lafayette, California, was charged with wire fraud and with engaging in financial transactions involving criminally derived proceeds arising out of an alleged scheme to defraud homeowners and mortgage holders

According to the indictment, Jacobsen created a company called “American Brokers’ Conduit Corporation.”  This company was not related to a mortgage originator known as “American Brokers’ Conduit,” which had originated mortgages in the Bay Area and elsewhere.  Jacobsen, through intermediaries, gained control of homes with mortgage liens that secured loans originated by the real “American Brokers’ Conduit,” and then, again through intermediaries, sued the phony “American Brokers’ Conduit Corporation” in court, claiming that the legitimate mortgage liens were invalid. Continue Reading…

Mazen Alzoubi, real estate investor, 32, Rancho Cucamonga, California, pled guilty to conspiracy, mail fraud and identity theft, admitting that he orchestrated a scheme to steal title to Southern California homes and then sell the properties to unsuspecting buyers before the true owners could put a stop to the sale.

Alzoubi admitted that from May 2012 through August 2014, he and several co-conspirators fraudulently sold or attempted to sell at least 15 homes worth more than $3.6 million. On at least ten occasions, Alzoubi admitted, he was successful—earning illicit proceeds of nearly $2.2 million, which he then laundered and diverted to overseas bank accounts to ensure that the fraudulently-obtained proceeds could never be recovered. Continue Reading…