Archives For California

Sergio Roman Barrientos, 62, Poway, California, was indicted by a federal grand jury in a six-count superseding indictment that charged both Barrientos and Zalathiel Aguila, 42, Fairfield, California.

According to the indictment, Barrientos, Aguila, and Omar Anabo, 53, Vallejo, California, engaged in a foreclosure rescue fraud scheme that began in September 2004 and continued to February 2008. Barrientos and Aguila are charged with conspiracy to commit and the commission of wire fraud affecting a financial institution, bank fraud, and conspiracy to make and making false statements on loan applications. On January 15, 2016, Anobo pleaded guilty to conspiring to make false statements on loan applications (case number 2:16-cr-001 GEB). He is scheduled for sentencing on November 4, 2016. Continue Reading…

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…

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…

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…

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…

Vera Kuzmenko, 46, Loomis, California was sentenced to 14 years in prison for multiple counts of mail and wire fraud, witness tampering, and money laundering associated with her involvement in a mortgage fraud scheme that cost financial institutions over $16 million.

On December 4, 2015, after a 16-day trial, a federal jury returned guilty verdicts for Kuzmenko and Rachel Siders, 40, Roseville, California. Siders is scheduled to be sentenced on June 21, 2016.

According to evidence presented at trial, from late 2006 through early 2008, Kuzmenko and Siders engaged in a mortgage fraud scheme involving over 30 properties in the Sacramento area. They were responsible for securing more than $30 million in residential mortgage loans on more than 30 homes purchased through straw buyers. Records introduced at trial showed Vera Kuzmenko received millions of dollars. Continue Reading…

Chester Peggese, 59, Los Angeles, California was sentenced to serve one year and one day in federal prison yesterday in connection with recruiting churches into a $4.2 million mortgage scheme that defrauded Broadway Federal Bank.  Peggese was also ordered to pay restitution of $4.2 million to Broadway Federal Bank and $38,609 to the Internal Revenue Service.

Peggese pleaded guilty in 2015 to one count of bank fraud and one count of subscribing to a false tax return.

According to the plea agreement filed in the case, Peggese acted as a “consultant” who targeted Los Angeles-area churches with promises of new mortgages to purchase property or refinanced mortgages from Broadway Federal Bank. Between 2007 and 2009, Peggese met with representatives of churches and obtained financial information required for the loan applications. Others involved in the scheme altered the financial information to make it appear the churches were more financially sound than they actually were, and Peggese caused these false loan applications to be submitted to Broadway Federal Bank. Continue Reading…

Felicia Muhammad, 45, Lakewood, California was found guilty of five felony charges for lying to banks that funded mortgages for three properties that later went into default, causing about $660,000 in losses to the lenders.  Muhammad was a licensed real estate broker living in Long Beach, California at the time of the conduct.  She was convicted of five counts of making false statements to federally-insured financial institutions, specifically U.S. Bank, Countrywide Bank, and First Horizon Home Loans (a subsidiary of First Tennessee Bank).

According to the evidence at trial, in the summer of 2008, Muhammad applied for three loans so she could purchase condominium units in North Hollywood, California, and Canoga Park, California. The total value of the loans was more than $1.1 million. Continue Reading…

Christian Parada-Renteria, 40, Woodland, California, pleaded guilty to one count of concealing a widespread conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of concealing a mail fraud transaction in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme,

According to court documents, Parada-Renteria was a loan officer at Delta Homes and Lending Inc., a Sacramento, California based real estate and mortgage lending company. Delta Homes opened one office in 2003 and eventually had five offices in Sacramento and Woodland, California. Continue Reading…

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…