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Surviving Foreclosure

Maryland Operation Stolen Dreams

http://www.winklerpost.com/postnews/2010/wp20100617/wp20100617_usa32.php

See this link to review the multiple people being indicted on mortgage fraud in Maryland alone!  It’s insane!

I’m very excited Attorney General Eric Holder is implementing this Task Force all over America.

June 24, 2010 Posted by | News | Leave a comment

Maryland Operations Stolen Dreams

MARYLAND MORTGAGE FRAUD TASK FORCE Jonathan Biran, Coordinator (410) 209-4920; e-mail: jonathan.biran@usdoj.gov

In February 2009, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland established the Maryland Mortgage Fraud Task Force. Through the Task Force, local, State, and federal regulatory and investigative agencies will coordinate mortgage fraud enforcement actions, identify cases for criminal investigation, and work to secure resources to prosecute perpetrators. The Task Force will develop more efficient procedures for mortgage fraud referrals; ways to avoid duplication of effort among agencies in open cases; and a training program for State and federal prosecutors and investigators. For victims of mortgage fraud and related crimes, the Task Force also is to pursue measures to secure restitution, including asset forfeiture.

June 24, 2010 Posted by | News | Leave a comment

Maryland Announces Results of Operation Stolen Dreams

http://www.mortgagefraudblog.com/index.php/weblog/permalink/maryland_announces_results_of_operation_stolen_dreams/

Maryland Announces Results of Operation Stolen Dreams

Douglas Skibicki

Dema Daiga, 28, College Park, Maryland, and Olu Campbell, formerly known as Oluseun Oshosanya, 29, Laurel, Maryland, were convicted on June 10, 2010, of numerous counts of wire fraud. According to trial testimony, from August to December 16, 2008, Daiga and Campbell used two straw purchasers and the stolen identifiers of four other individuals to purchase six Baltimore properties – five of which quickly went into default, resulting in a loss to a Beltsville mortgage lending company of approximately $664,493. Daiga was also convicted of two counts of aggravated identity theft in connection with the scheme. According to trial testimony, Daiga worked as a mortgage loan broker and assisted with property appraisals, and Campbell also worked in the mortgage lending field. The defendants are scheduled to be sentenced on August 27, 2010.

David Wehrs Sr., 55, owned Maryland Title and Escrow Company, Inc., and operated a small home remodeling company called Show-Me. On May 19, 2010, the Annapolis, Maryland mortgage broker was sentenced to three years in prison for defrauding home buyers and investors of $2.3 million in order to day trade and to pay personal and business expenses. According to his plea agreement, from 2007 to October 2009, Wehrs induced individuals to invest money through Maryland Title into a purported FDIC-insured money market fund that Wehrs “guaranteed” would pay monthly interest payments of 10.85%. Instead of depositing the money into a market fund, Wehrs deposited investor funds into one of two bank accounts he controlled in the name of his title company. Wehrs used the money to “day trade.” Day trading is the rapid buying and selling of securities throughout the day in the hope that the stocks will continue climbing or falling in value for the seconds to minutes that they are owned, allowing a person to lock in quick profits. During the scheme, Wehrs conducted millions of dollars of stock trades per month. From early 2008 until mid-2009, Wehrs lost approximately $1 million in day trading. Wehrs also used some of the investor funds to: pay “monthly interest” and “redemptions” to other investors; pay expenses of his other businesses, including Show-Me; make escrow payments for his title company; buy real estate and personal property; and pay other personal expenses.

Melva Massey, 39, Waldorf, Maryland, her husband D’Von Massey, 37, Waldorf, Maryland, pleaded guilty in May 2010, to lying to banks to obtain over $1.2 million in home mortgage loans in just three months, from June to September 2007. The couple and others submitted three mortgage applications for three properties in Washington, D.C. to different banks which falsely stated: each property was to be the Masseys‘ primary residence; the Masseys had substantial rental income; another individual rented other property owned by the Masseys; and that individual had provided Melva Massey a cashier’s check for a security deposit on the rental property. The three banks approved the mortgage loans in the total amount of $1,205,267. Each of the three properties went into foreclosure or short sale, resulting in a total loss to the banks of $859,190. The Masseys are scheduled to be sentenced in September, 2010.

On April 8, 2010, Lynzi Richardson was charged by criminal complaint with assisting D’Von and Melva Massey in lying to banks to obtain over $1.2 million in home mortgage loans in just three months, from June to September 2007. The criminal complaint alleges that Richardson knowingly processed false loan applications on behalf of the Masseys containing false information about, among other things, the Massey‘s income and their intent to use the referenced homes as their primary residence. This matter is pending, and the filing of a complaint is not a finding of guilt.

Olusola Idowu, 57, Hagerstown, Maryland, was convicted by a federal jury for fraudulently obtaining over $1.1 million in loans for her residence and bankruptcy fraud. Idowu was the owner and president of SSS Nutrition & Dietetic Care Services. SSS Nutrition was a health care services company specializing in the “Optifast” weight management program. According to testimony at her five day trial, between November 2003 and December 2008, Idowu falsely represented to financial companies that her son was employed as a nutritionist at SSS Nutrition and falsely representend his earnings and assets, in order to obtain mortgages and loans and lied to, and concealed information from, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in relation to her Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition. Idowu is scheduled to be sentenced in August.

Rolando Alonzo Cousins, a/k/a “Junior,” 32, Bowie, Maryland, a senior loan officer at Metropolitan Money Store, was indicted on March 8, 2010, for conspiracy to commit mail fraud, mail fraud and money laundering, in connection with the massive mortgage fraud scheme which promised to help homeowners facing foreclosure keep their homes and repair their damaged credit, but left them homeless and with no equity. The 11 count indictment alleges that Cousins, Joy Jackson, Jennifer McCall and others: paid approximately $10,000 to each of the straw buyers to participate in the scheme; fraudulently bolstered the credit of the straw buyers so they could qualify for more favorable mortgages; obtained fraudulently inflated loans on the properties in the straw buyers names; served as straw buyers themselves; stripped away the bulk of the homeowners equity proceeds and converted that money to their own personal use; and stopped making the mortgage payments on the homes, resulting in the homes being foreclosed upon.

The indictment seeks the forfeiture of $1.5 million, alleged to be Cousins‘ proceeds from the scheme.

An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.

Joy Jackson and Jennifer McCall pleaded guilty to their role in the scheme and were sentenced to 151 months in prison and 135 months in prison, respectively. Nine other co-conspirators also pleaded guilty and were sentenced.

In addition to the above federal cases, there were significant developments in cases brought by state and local agencies that are members of the Maryland Mortgage Fraud Task Force, including:

State v. Katherine Ting Tiong , Montgomery County Circuit Court. This criminal case was brought by the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office. Tiong is a licensed real estate agent in Maryland. She is alleged to have used family members as straw-purchasers to fraudulently purchase a home at below market prices through the Montgomery County Moderately Priced Dwelling Unit (MPDU) program. The fraud scheme allegedly included mortgage fraud as well as fraud against the government MPDU program. The home purchase allegedly was financed through a fraudulently obtained mortgage. Tiong then allegedly rented the property to third-parties in violation of MPDU program regulations and received the rental income for her personal benefit. It is also alleged that Tiong later refinanced the property through a fraudulent loan application and also fraudulently obtained a HELOC loan to strip the property of equity. An indictment was filed in this case on March 18, 2010. Trial is pending. An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.

Maryland Office of the Attorney General, Consumer Protection Division v. Metropolitan Money Store and Briane Barbour, Prince George’s County Circuit Court. In a civil case related to the federal Metropolitan Money Store prosecution described above, a judgment was entered against Barbour on March 15, 2010, ordering injunctive relief and entering a monetary judgment of $362,872.67.

The Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office, in conjunction with the Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation Financial Regulation, brought the following cases:

Marvin Calder was indicted on mortgage fraud; multiple counts of felony theft from homeowner victims and against a national lender; counterfeiting; identity theft; and multiple counts of operating as a mortgage lender without a license and various conspiracy counts. Marvin Calder allegedly participated in a mortgage fraud ring that involved his use of co-conspirators Latoya Calder and Stephan Baker. Marvin Calder allegedly set up a dummy corporation and commenced to circumvent funds intended to go to his co-conspirators’ brokerage, but instead was sent to his company by false pretenses.

Latoya Calder was indicted on mortgage fraud; multiple counts of felony theft from homeowner victims and against a mortgage lender without a lense and conspiracy. She worked as a mortgage originator for a Virginia-based brokerage and was subsequently fired from her position on account of the alleged mortgage fraud. After she was fired, she allegedly broke into her broker’s software system, stole the user name and password of another mortgage originator and commenced to broker deals through the company under someone else’s name. As a result of her alleged illegal activities, she secured multiple loans from the lender and collected illegal fees for loan consulting. Her former employee never received any of the money from the brokered deals because Calder and her co-conspirators allegedly circumvented the intended funds to their shell companies.

Stephan Baker was indicted on mortgage fraud, multiple counts of felony theft from homeowner victims and against a national lender, counterfeiting, identity theft, multiple counts of operating as a mortgage lender without a license and various conspiracy counts. The scheme involved charging phony pest inspection fees. Although he was a licensed pest inspector, he allegedly never provided pest inspections to his victims, but charged them up to $2,000. He also further allegedly perpetrated his fraud by receiving processing fees on the HUD One form. The processing fees were intended for the brokerage firm that his co-conspirator worked for.

An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.

Defendant Johnson Olawoyin pleaded guilty to operating as a mortgage lender without a license, theft operating as a bredit business service wihtout a license. Penalty: 11 months suspended: 364 days supervised probation with special condition of restitution in amount of $26,000. $10,000 due at sentencing; the remaining $16,000 is due 90 days after sentencing.

Sentencing is scheduled for July 15, 2010. The victims will be present to receive their first restitution payment.

The Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing & Regulation, Office of the Commissioner of Financial Regulation (with the Office of the Maryland Attorney General acting as counsel), issued orders to cease and desist against the following individuals and businesses, totaling 45 defendants/respondents and a total amount of judgments/final orders (including both orders for fines/penalties and orders for restitution) of $1,298,973.67:

Apply 2 Save, Inc., Derek Oberholtzer, and Trapper Fishbeck: Illegal loan modification activities, including collecting up-front fees from Maryland consumers and engaging in unlicensed credit services business activities. A final order to cease and desist was issued on April 30, 2010, which included an order to permanently cease and desist from engaging in loan modification, loss mitigation, or other similar activities with Maryland consumers, an order to pay a monetary penalty of $409,000, and an order to pay restitution to 204 Maryland consumer victims totaling $306,000.

Marc Cox: Respondent engaged in unlicensed mortgage origination activity after his mortgage lender license had been revoked, and he collected improper finder’s fees. Final order issued on 5/12/2010: includes an order to permanently cease and desist from engaging in mortgage lending and mortgage origination activities with Maryland residents, an order to pay civil penalties of $28,000, and an order to pay restitution of $6,000.

William W. Bruner IV: Respondent’s actions during the mortgage lending process constituted fraud and resulted in the theft of money from a client. A final order was issued on May 20, 2010, which included an order to permanently cease and desist from engaging in mortgage lending, brokering, or origination activities with Maryland residents, an order to pay a monetary penalty of $11,000, and an order to pay restitution of $5,000.

David S. Stepney: Illegal loan modification activities, including collecting up-front fees from Maryland consumers and engaging in unlicensed credit services business activities. A Final Order to Cease and Desist was issued on May 5, 2010, which included an order to permanently cease and desist from engaging in loan modification, loss mitigation, or other similar activities with Maryland consumers, an order to pay a monetary penalty of $5,000, and an order to pay restitution of $10,000.

First Choice Loan Solutions, LLC and Douglas S. Skibicki: Illegal loan modification activities, including collecting up-front fees from Maryland consumers and engaging in unlicensed credit services business activities. A Final Order to Cease and Desist was issued on May 5, 2010, which included an order to permanently cease and desist from engaging in loan modification, loss mitigation, or other similar activities with Maryland consumers, an order to pay a monetary penalty of $2,000, and an order to pay restitution of $9,750. This matter related to the federal criminal prosecution of Douglas Skibicki described above.

The Home Savers, National Pacific Mortgage, Inc., Jason Ritchie, and Skip Cronin: Illegal loan modification activities, including collecting up-front fees from Maryland consumers and engaging in unlicensed credit services business activities. A Final Order to Cease and Desist was issued on May 5, 2010, which included an order to permanently cease and desist from engaging in loan modification, loss mitigation, or other similar activities with Maryland consumers, an order to pay a monetary penalty of $3,000, and an order to pay restitution of $9,300.

21st Century Legal Services, Inc., Fidelity National Legal Services Inc., Transitional Corporation of America, Inc., Andrea Ramirez, and Kathy Deleon: Illegal loan modification activities, including collecting up-front fees from Maryland consumers and engaging in unlicensed credit services business activities. A Final Order to Cease and Desist was issued on May 6, 2010, which included an order to permanently cease and desist from engaging in loan modification, loss mitigation, or other similar activities with Maryland consumers, an order to pay a monetary penalty of $9,000, and an order to pay restitution to Maryland consumer victims totaling $28,734.

US Homeowners Assistance, Fredy Quesada, Marjorie Jorgensen, Sandy Hernandez, Joe Diaz, and Mastura Sheren: Illegal loan modification activities, including collecting up-front fees from Maryland consumers and engaging in unlicensed credit services business activities. A Final Order to Cease and Desist was issued on May 6, 2010, which included an order to permanently cease and desist from engaging in loan modification, loss mitigation, or other similar activities with Maryland consumers, an order to pay a monetary penalty of $3,000, and an order to pay restitution of $7,200.

American Home Solutions Group LLC, Dante Marquez, Jeff George, and Andrea Olavarria: Illegal loan modification activities, including collecting up-front fees from Maryland consumers and engaging in unlicensed credit services business activities. A Final Order to Cease and Desist was issued on May 12, 2010, which included an order to permanently cease and desist from engaging in loan modification, loss mitigation, or other similar activities with Maryland consumers, an order to pay a monetary penalty of $3,000, and an order to pay restitution of $4,500.

Fintech Services, Inc. a/k/a Fintech Loan Modification Services, Michael C. Mali, and Andrew Cappello a/k/a Andrew Capello: Illegal loan modification activities, including collecting up-front fees from Maryland consumers and engaging in unlicensed credit services business activities. A Final Order to Cease and Desist was issued on May 13, 2010, which included an order to permanently cease and desist from engaging in loan modification, loss mitigation, or other similar activities with Maryland consumers, an order to pay a monetary penalty of $3,000, and an order to pay restitution of $6,000.

The Selig Law Group, P.C., Save My Home, Krista Selig, Chris Fasullo, William Soto, and Cheryl Johnson: Illegal loan modification activities, including collecting up-front fees from Maryland consumers and engaging in unlicensed credit services business activities. A Final Order to Cease and Desist was issued on May 13, 2010, which included an order to permanently cease and desist from engaging in loan modification, loss mitigation, or other similar activities with Maryland consumers, an order to pay a monetary penalty of $5,000, and an order to pay restitution of $12,600.

Amerimod, Inc. a/k/a American Modification Agency, Salvatore Pane, Jr., Andrew P. Daniels, Efrain Roman, and Matthew Crosta: Illegal loan modification activities, including collecting up-front fees from Maryland consumers and engaging in unlicensed credit services business activities. A Final Order to Cease and Desist was issued on May 13, 2010, which included an order to permanently cease and desist from engaging in loan modification, loss mitigation, or other similar activities with Maryland consumers, an order to pay a monetary penalty of $7,000, and an order to pay restitution to Maryland consumer victims totaling $35,517.

Pinnacle Financial Solutions Inc., and Ryan Zimmerman: Illegal loan modification activities, including collecting up-front fees from Maryland consumers and engaging in unlicensed credit services business activities. A Final Order to Cease and Desist was issued on May 13, 2010, which included an order to permanently cease and desist from engaging in loan modification, loss mitigation, or other similar activities with Maryland consumers, an order to pay a monetary penalty of $3,000, and an order to pay restitution of $4,500.

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, 41, Bethesda, Maryland, was charged in a superseding indictment on June 16, 2010, with mail and wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and bankruptcy fraud, in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme in which he allegedly defrauded lenders, family and others of over $7.4 million. According to the 17 count superseding indictment, Skibicki was a mortgage originator and/or broker for a company which operated in Laurel, Maryland. From June 2005 through August 2009, Skibicki, with the assistance of an appraiser and others, allegedly participated in a scheme to defraud the victims of over $7.4 million through a series of real estate transactions. Skibicki was released after his arrest upon condition that he is prohibited from working in the financial services industry while awaiting trial.

June 22, 2010 Posted by | News | Leave a comment

Wilshire is still at it

I hope Bank of America pays victims of Wilshire just like it had to for Countrywide. 

http://www.yournabe.com/articles/2010/05/28/bronx/bronxtimes-yn_bronx_front_page-21-protest.txt

One church member’s battle to save her home from foreclosure became an entire crowd’s fight last Thursday, May 20. The Northwest Bronx Community Clergy Coalition, along with members of New Day Church, met at noon in front of the Bank of America at 248 E. Fordham Road.

The idea for the protest began when Edda Lopez of New Day shared her dilemma with the church congregation: Bank of America had just told her they were going to foreclose her home at Devoe Terrace. But they notified her only one month in advance.

It all started nearly six months ago when Lopez began having difficulty making her mortgage payments. She had fallen ill and also lost her husband, and it seemed like her life was breaking down at once. Wilshire Credit Corporation, whichheld her mortgage, offered her what is known as a loan modification of her mortgage — she would get to pay a reduced rate, almost $1,000 less per month than in the past, for a period of three months. If Lopez made timely payments, Wilshire told her, they would consider modifying the loan to the lower rate for good.

“I said yes, of course! I signed an official agreement and everything,” said Lopez. Sure enough, after three months, Wilshire sent her a letter saying that her mortgage had been modified and would stay at the low rate for the next five years. “I was happy, but that kind of scared me,” admitted Lopez. “I said, only five years? I thought it was going to be forever!”

It didn’t even last the five months. She then received a letter that her new payment would be $3500 a month — back up to the original high rate she had been paying before the modification. The letter was from Bank of America because, as Lopez learned, they had acquired her loan from Wilshire.

Lopez asked a friend who works in real estate to call the bank and ask some questions. When he did, they told him that the house was in foreclosure because Lopez had not been paying her loan. They said the house would be sold off on May 24.

“To think, if I hadn’t asked my friend to call them, I may have never even known,” said Lopez. “It would have been a done deal. I never got a letter telling me I was in danger of losing my home, nothing.”

Lopez went straight to her community at the church and they organized a protest.

“We fully recognize that Edda is one of tens of thousands of people in the Bronx who are being screwed by the banks one way or another,” said Ivan Braun of the NWBCCC. “She is a member of our community, so we’re going to stick by her.”

On the morning of the proposed rally, NWBCCC received a call from someone representing the CEO at Bank of America. He asked them to call off the protest. The bank postponed the foreclosure but otherwise did not budge on their foreclosure plans. NWBCCC and New Day members went ahead with the rally. A hundred people came out: 27 members of New Day Church, an equal number of people directly associated with NWBCC, and a number of other locals from the community.

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“Ain’t no power like the power of the people, ‘cause the power of the people don’t stop,” they chanted, holding signs and making speeches directly outside the bank’s windows.

Following the rally, Braun reflected: “I think it was very successful. In spite of what the guy from the CEO’s office said, they’re going real slow. They still aren’t recognizing her situation. So we saw this as a necessary step. We’re still hopeful that they will see the light.”

Bank of America insists Lopez’ load was never “modified” in the first place. Unfortunately, she cannot find the letter that outlined her modification, though she says that her son, for one, witnessed it. She showed him the letter when she first received it.

Bank of America has now offered Lopez the chance to re-apply for the modification she had already received from Wilshire.

“They want me to do it all over again,” she said. “Give them bank statements, try and prove I deserve the modification. So I don’t even know if they’ll accept it this time.”

She has until May 28 to get the paperwork in. Members of Northwest Bronx Alliance and her church will clearly be pulling for her.

June 8, 2010 Posted by | News, Wilshire Credit Corporation | Leave a comment

Countrywide customers to be repaid $108 million

Countrywide customers to be repaid $108 million for overcharges Bank of America agrees to create a fund to reimburse homeowners who were assessed improper fees, the FTC announces. At least 200,000 homeowners whose mortgages were serviced by Countrywide will be eligible for reimbursement. (Brian Vander Brug, Los Angeles Times / June 8, 2010) By Jim Puzzanghera, Los Angeles Times June 8, 2010 E-mail Print Share Text Size la-fi-countrywide-mortgages-20100608 Reporting from Washington — People struggling to keep their homes as the housing market collapsed faced additional hurdles if their mortgages were serviced by Countrywide Financial Corp. — inflated fees for property inspections, appraisals and even lawn mowing, the Federal Trade Commission said. Now Bank of America, which bought the Calabasas lender in 2008, has agreed to refund those overcharges — in some cases amounting to thousands of dollars — as part of a $108-million settlement announced Monday. » Don’t miss a thing. Get breaking news alerts delivered to your inbox. “Life is hard enough for homeowners who are having trouble paying their mortgage. To have a major loan servicer like Countrywide piling on illegal and excessive fees is indefensible,” FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said. The settlement is the largest for a mortgage servicing case and one of the largest ever by the agency. At least 200,000 homeowners whose mortgages were serviced by Countrywide from 2005 until its sale in July 2008 will be eligible for reimbursement of their overpayments. After a federal court approves the settlement, the FTC said it would notify eligible homeowners in a process that could take several months. The FTC website has more information. The agency began investigating Countrywide’s loan-servicing business amid complaints about fees charged to homeowners who had fallen behind on their mortgages and were in default, or who were trying to save their homes through bankruptcy. Once the nation’s largest mortgage lender, Countrywide has faced a variety of legal actions for its role in the mortgage meltdown, including a civil suit by the Securities and Exchange Commission accusing co-founder Angelo Mozilo and two other executives of misleading investors about the company’s financial condition. Mortgage service companies can charge homeowners who have fallen behind on their loans for services that protect the lender’s financial interest in the property. But as the housing market collapsed, Countrywide created subsidiaries to do such work, then marked up the price of those services 100% or more, charging homeowners the fees to increase company profits in bad economic times, the FTC said. Countrywide also failed to tell customers when it added charges to their mortgages and made “false or unsupported claims” to borrowers about how much they owed on their loans, the agency said. The marked-up fees were collected as part of repayment plans, foreclosures or bankruptcies. “This settlement should be seen as an admission by those behind Countrywide that they made a habit of profiting off the misfortune of their most troubled borrowers,” said Sen. Charles M. Schumer (D-N.Y.), who pressed the FTC in May 2008 to investigate alleged abuses. “These fines will help repay the company’s victims, many of whom have still yet to recover from the abuse they suffered at the hands of Countrywide.” Bank of America agreed to settle the charges “to avoid the expense and distraction associated with litigating the case,” it said in a statement. The settlement involved no admission of wrongdoing, the bank said. The settlement requires the company to stop such practices and make changes to its procedures for homeowners in bankruptcy, including sending borrowers monthly statements noting new fees. Michael Kassing, 39, a software developer in Sacramento, said he paid Countrywide about $1,200 in fees when he was in default on his mortgage for about eight months from 2007 to 2008 for services such as photos of the home. “How much of that is overblown? I have no clue,” he said. But Kassing doubts the total for all of Countrywide’s customers is only $108 million, which would average $540 for the estimated 200,000 people in default during the covered period. He said he’d gladly give up his piece of the settlement and have the case go to trial, potentially leading to greater refunds or more information about other Countrywide practices. But Lucy Morris, the lead FTC attorney on the case, said that under the law the agency can’t seek penalties or fines for Countrywide’s overcharges. The agency only can stop the practices and get money back for consumers.

June 8, 2010 Posted by | News | Leave a comment