CALIFORNIA MAN GETS FIVE YEARS IN ARIZONA FEDERAL PRISON FOR ADVANCE FEE MORTGAGE MODIFICATION AND RESCUE SCAM
On Aug. 5, Frank Becerra Campos was sentenced by U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow to five years’ imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for his role in an advance-fee mortgage rescue scam that took place in Arizona and California.
Campos had previously pled guilty to conspiring with two others, Miguel Carrera and Oswaldo Esqueda, to defraud more than 250 distressed homeowners out of approximately $675,000 in up-front fees with false promises of mortgage modification assistance. Campos’ prison sentence was the maximum allowed by statute, and Campos was ordered to pay back the fees to the victims in the form of restitution.
Campos, Carrera and Esqueda operated under the business names Gold Capital Investments LLC and Foreclosure Home Savers LLC. They were accused of making false guarantees to mostly Spanish-speaking distressed homeowners that their mortgage principal balance and monthly payments would be reduced by 25%, and then failed to pursue any form of loan modification process on behalf of the homeowners.
When homes neared foreclosure, the homeowner was placed in bankruptcy proceedings to delay the foreclosure, but virtually all of the 250 or so victims ultimately lost their homes to foreclosure. Carrera and Esqueda, both citizens of Mexico, fled from the charges and are believed to be in Mexico. (usattaz8513)
If someone wants an advance fee to stop a foreclosure or modify your home loan, run do not walk to the nearest exit.
LA MAN CAUGHT AFTER 10 YEARS AND NOW GETS TO SPEND THE NEXT 11 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON
On Aug. 5, Glen Alan Ward, a Los Angeles resident who fled to Canada and was a fugitive from justice for more than a decade was sentenced to 11 years in federal prison for running a nearly 15-year foreclosure rescue scam that fraudulently delayed foreclosure sales for more than 800 distressed homeowners.
In addition to his prison term, Ward was ordered to pay $59,961 in restitution and to forfeit approximately $100,000 in cash and property previously seized by law enforcement authorities.
Ward pleaded guilty in April to three separate sets of charges stemming from his 15 year fraud scheme. In 2000, Ward failed to appear in United States District Court in Los Angeles after agreeing to plead guilty and fled to Canada. In 2002, while he was a fugitive, Ward was indicted on multiple counts of bankruptcy fraud in San Francisco. One year ago, in the third case, Ward was indicted on mail fraud, aggravated identity theft, and additional bankruptcy fraud counts in Los Angeles.
While in Canada, Ward recruited Frederic Alan Gladle, who was indicted by federal prosecutors in Los Angeles on bankruptcy fraud and identity theft charges in 2011. Gladle was sentenced last year to 61 months in federal prison.
On April 5, 2012, Ward was arrested in Canada by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Waterloo Regional Police Service. On Dec. 21, 2012, Ward was extradited to the United States to answer all three sets of charges.
After fleeing the United States in 2000, Ward continued his scheme while in Canada. To avoid being detected while accessing websites he needed for his scheme, Ward used a laptop computer in wireless hotspots away from his home. He also arranged for clients’ monthly payments to be deposited in the bank account of a person in Texas, which he could access with an ATM card.
Upon receiving confirmation that client funds had been deposited, Ward would withdraw the funds at one of many Waterloo, Ont.-area ATMs. Federal agents in the United States were able to identify Ward’s most-frequented wireless locations and his most-frequented ATMs.
Using near-real-time information, these agents repeatedly passed along information on Ward’s current or expected whereabouts to Waterloo and RCMP authorities in Canada. These Canadian authorities would then visit the locations as soon as possible, usually missing Ward by only minutes. Finally, Canadian authorities established “stake outs” on multiple ATMs after Ward had received confirmation of a deposit. When Ward visited one of these ATMs, Canadian authorities identified Ward and arrested him.
Ward led a scheme that solicited and recruited homeowners whose properties were in danger of imminent foreclosure with promises that Ward would delay their foreclosures for as long as the homeowners could afford his $700 monthly fee. Once a homeowner paid the fee, Ward accessed a public bankruptcy database, retrieved the name of a debtor who had recently filed a bankruptcy petition, and directly the client to record a grant deed transferring a tiny interest in their distressed home. Then, after stealing the debtor’s identity, Ward faxed a copy of the bankruptcy petition, a notarized grant deed and a cover letter to the homeowner’s lender, directing it to stop the impending foreclosure sale due to the bankruptcy.
Because bankruptcy filings give rise to automatic stays that protect debtors’ properties, the receipt of the bankruptcy petitions and deeds in the debtors’ names forced lenders to cancel foreclosure sales. The lenders could not move forward to collect money that was owed to them until getting permission from the bankruptcy courts, thereby repeatedly delaying the recovery of money for months and even years. Additionally, if a distressed homeowner wanted to complete a loan modification or short sale, they were left to the mercy of Ward to send them forged deeds, supposedly signed by the debtors, to re-unify their title as required by most lenders.
As part of the scheme, Ward delayed the foreclosure sales of approximately 824 distressed properties by using at least 414 bankruptcies filed in 26 judicial districts. During that same period, Ward admitted to collecting more than $1.2 million from his clients who paid for his illegal foreclosure-delay services. (usatttycdca8513)
He was certainly very busy and creative. But, modern technology caught up with him. To the best of my recollection, this is the only case I can recall where someone had been doing it for 15 years before getting caught. Well, now he has 11 more years to think about it because there is no parole in the federal system.