DEC 10, 2012 1:14pm ET

Florida CPA Sentenced for Role in Foreclosure Scheme

DEC 10, 2012 1:14pm ET
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A certified public accountant has been sentenced for his role in a Florida foreclosure rescue scam that victimized desperate homeowners on the brink of losing their homes.

Barrington Coombs was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, said the U.S. Justice Department. A one-year imprisonment was issued to Coombs by U.S. District Judge Kenneth A. Marra in the Southern District of Florida.

According to the indictment and evidence presented during a two-week trial, two of Coombs’ accomplices—Lisa Wright and Cathy Saffer—operated Foreclosure Solution Specialists from 2006 to 2009. The company advertised that it could assist distressed homeowners facing foreclosure remain in their properties.

When the homeowners contacted FSS seeking assistance, they were told that their homes would be sold to investors. Furthermore, the foreclosure rescue company claimed that customers could remain in their homes after the sales and promised them an opportunity to repurchase the asset at a later date.

However, rather than selling the homes to legitimate investors, FSS designed sham sales to straw purchasers whom they paid to participate in the scheme, including Coombs.

Coombs was an FSS conspirator who wrote fraudulent letters that vouched for the false information on various loan applications submitted by the foreclosure rescue company. Lenders relied on Coombs’ fraudulent letter in deciding to fund the loans.

Mortgage transactions completed by Foreclosure Solution Specialists drew equity of the homes, which its principals inherited for their own use. After submitting their inaccurate information to the lenders, FSS allowed the loans to go into foreclosure, therefore resulting in homeowners losing all of the equity that they owned and most of the victims being forced out of their properties.

“The individual sentenced today lent his credibility as a professional accountant to a foreclosure scheme and, in doing so, caused lenders and consumers to suffer substantial losses,” said Stuart Delery, principal deputy assistant attorney general for the civil division.

Coombs is the last member of the scheme to be sentenced. In November, Wright and Saffer were both sentenced to serve at least five years in prison.