Five California men pleaded guilty to a loan modification scam that fleeced more than 400 troubled homeowners that were seeking access to the Home Affordable Modification Program.
The ringleader of the scam, Roscoe Ortega Umali, and his co-conspirators convinced their victims to send "reinstatement fees" and "trial mortgage payments" to participate in the Treasury Department's HAMP program. The scammers pocketed $3.8 million from October 2012 to September 2014.
"Umali and his cohorts made false claims of operating a nonprofit company, brazenly used the U.S. Treasury seal on fabricated documents, and invented fictitious HAMP benefits," according to Christy Goldsmith Romero, Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program. She announced the guilty pleas in a press release Wednesday.
The scammers contacted homeowners through nationwide mass mailings. They did "nothing to help modify any mortgages," according to the IG. "Instead, they used the victims' payments for their own personal benefit and to further the fraud scheme."
The five defendants — Umali, Jefferson Maniscan, Raymund Dacanay, Isaac Perez and Joshua Johnson — all resided in the Los Angeles area.
They were indicted last October and they will be sentenced this summer. Each faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.