PAIR ARRESTED FOR FORECLOSURE FRAUD
On Sept. 12, Tamara Teresa Tikal and Ray Jan Kornfeld were arrested for a continuing multistate scam that has defrauded distressed homeowners throughout California and elsewhere.
This came one day after a federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment against Alan David Tikal, adding charges against him as well as charging his wife Tamara Tikal along with Kornfeld. The pair allegedly continued the scam while Alan Tikal was in custody awaiting trial.
According to court documents, beginning in January 2010, Alan Tikal operated a large-scale mortgage rescue scam by offering to eliminate homeowners’ mortgages and replace it with a new debt to his company KATN Trust. He claimed the new loan would only be for 25% of the original principal.
Victims paid thousands of dollars in upfront fees and then made regular payments to him on their new loans. Tikal and his underlings instructed the victims not to pay their original mortgage and to ignore all correspondence from the original lenders. This resulted in many of the victims losing their homes to foreclosure. Alan Tikal was arrested on Sept. 28, 2012, and indicted on charges of mail fraud.
Following his arrest, federal law enforcement continued to investigate the case. In November 2012, law enforcement learned that the scheme was still going on and searched KATN’s Las Vegas office. They seized multiple computers and thousands of documents.
Later this year, law enforcement learned that despite these efforts, the scheme continued, with victim homeowners continuing to make payments to the defendants’ company. According to the superseding indictment, Tamara Tikal and Kornfeld have filled central roles in continuing to operate the scheme.
A significant element of the continuing scheme has been an ongoing bankruptcy matter in the District of Nevada, filed in Alan Tikal’s name. Tikal has listed the property of many of his client victims as his personal property, thus preventing the financial institutions holding interests in those properties from foreclosing on them.
In all, Tikal’s scheme has victimized more than a thousand homeowners, who have paid in excess of $3.4 million. Of the identified victim homeowners, approximately 95 percent reside in California and at least 185 resided within the Eastern District of California.
The scam allegedly exploited bankruptcy law as a way to illegally halt foreclosure proceedings by mortgage lenders, including TARP recipients. Many of the duped homeowners did not speak English as their first language.
“As the foreclosure crisis continues, we are seeing a rise in scams that target struggling homeowners,” said California Attorney General Kamala Harris. “These predators rob innocent families of their life savings and their piece of the American dream. I am thankful for the fine work of the California Mortgage Fraud Strike Force and of our U.S. Department of Justice colleagues in cracking this case.”
This case is a joint prosecution by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California and the California Attorney General’s Office. It is the product of an extensive investigation by the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, the California Department of Justice, and the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Philip Ferrari and California Deputy Attorney General Maggy Krell are prosecuting the case.
If convicted, each of the defendants faces a sentence of up to 30 years in prison. (usattyed91213)
As alleged, that is what I would call an “ongoing criminal enterprise.” They are looking at a lot of prison time if convicted. The question is, if it was operating out of Nevada in part, how come no Nevada citizens were hit?
CALIFORNIA AND SHASTA COUNTY SEE INCREASE IN FORECLOSURES
In August 2013 Shasta County posted its highest total of foreclosures since April. These numbers are double from April 2013.
Foreclosure activity in California also went up in August from 13,249 filings in July to 15,136 filings. (reccordsrchlite91213)
If a property is in foreclosure and especially at the beginning of foreclosure we may be able to assist that person.
LOS ANGELES MAN PLED GUILTY IN DENVER, ALONG WITH SIX OTHERS, TO MORTGAGE FRAUD THAT INVOLVED COLORADO PROPERTY
In September 2013, Dale Johnson pled guilty in a Colorado federal court to one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering. Johnson and six other co-defendants, as mentioned below, were indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver.
The scheme began in March 2006. Johnson was a member of a business group out of Culver City, Calif., called Synergy. In early 2006, Synergy was Johnson as president and CEO; Donald Beverly, vice president of new business development; Ronald Benjamin, regional manager and senior vice president of sales and marketing; Jimmy Hutchinson, chief financial officer; and Vincent Jackson, VP of marketing.
In 2006, Johnson began to present Synergy members with a number of properties available for purchase in Colorado. He began to develop business relationships with various real estate professionals in Colorado, to include real estate broker Jerry Minney and mortgage broker Scott Goldberg.
Minney and Goldberg assisted Synergy members in the purchase of various homes in Colorado. Johnson and other Synergy members began traveling to Colorado, where they started purchasing multiple residential properties. The homes were typically purchased in the individual member’s own name, using the member’s personal credit history to qualify for the purchases. Johnson and others typically identified the property and helped arrange for the purchase by a Synergy member.
As part of the scheme, Synergy members with the assistance of Goldberg and other persons, submitted loan applications. In a number of these applications, Synergy members and other buyers provided, or assisted in providing, materially false statements, representations, and omissions to real estate lenders, or the lenders’ agents. False information included income, assets, debts, employment history, and/or intent to occupy the home as a primary residence.
Furthermore, Synergy, with the assistance of Goldberg, Minney and others, arranged for a portion of lender funds from home purchases to be paid to group members as kickbacks. Such kickbacks were often concealed from lenders through a series of false statements and material omissions made in connection with closings for properties or in connection with the loan documents submitted to the lenders.
To further conceal the kickbacks from lenders, they routed payments through third parties posing as property management companies. These include 5280 Denver Real Estate; Willow Property Management; and Broker One Real Estate.
So far Beverly, Goldberg and Jackson have pled guilty. Jackson has already been sentenced to 60 months of probation.
Wire fraud carries a penalty of not more than 20 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000 per count. Money laundering carries a penalty of not more than 10 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000 per count. (usattco91013)
Colorado lenders might want to redo a detailed quality control check on their loan files for loans that came in through any of the above named persons or entities to evaluate risk of buyback from investors.
CONNECTICUT PAIR GET TIME IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR MORTGAGE FRAUD
A pair of people were sentenced to prison for their respective roles in an extensive mortgage fraud scheme related to the purchases of numerous homes in New Haven. Kwame Nkrumah, also known as Roger Woodson, got 48 months, while Charmaine Davis got 24 months.
Nkrumah had pleaded guilty to an indictment charging him with conspiracy to commit mail, bank, and wire fraud in two separate mortgage fraud schemes from September 2006 to November 2008.
Nkrumah, his conspirators, and others, received millions of dollars in residential real estate loans by submitting false loan applications, fictitious leases, and false down payments to mortgage lenders.
They hid from mortgage lenders the true sales price of the houses through, among other things, the use of two HUD-1 forms, only one of which was sent to the lender, and secret contract addenda. The buyers often received payments at closing, but those payments were not disclosed to the mortgage lender.
The conspirators entered into sales contracts with property sellers for prices that were higher than the actual prices the sellers received at closing. The conspirators then executed contract addenda that reflected the actual, lower prices. While the sales contracts bearing the contract price would be disclosed to mortgage lenders, the contract addenda were never disclosed.
Nkrumah also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud mortgage lenders in connection with the purchase of other New Haven properties in early 2007. He and others submitted fraudulent loan applications, HUD-1 forms, employment verification forms and other documentation to mortgage lenders to obtain financing to purchase properties. Nkrumah submitted multiple false employment verification forms indicating that an individual borrower was employed as an office manager at All World Realty Enterprise and/or Homesavers LLC, when, in fact, those statements were not true.
In addition to the prison term, the judge sentenced Nkrumah and Davis each to five years of supervised release. She ordered Nkrumah to forfeit $113,080 and pay restitution of $2,939. Davis was fined $6,000 and ordered to forfeit $39,434. (meridiandisp91313)
The federal prosecutors are still investigating loans that funded in 2006. They have 10 years to charge someone with mortgage fraud so can investigate loans that occurred in 2004 forward and still indict. Notice the sentencing. It is getting stiffer. This is a political football but it makes them look good. So if anyone reading this has been involved (even peripherally) with one or more questionable loans you might want to consider contacting us now before federal agents contact you. If contacted, the only thing you should say is you would like your attorney present. They usually visit about 8 a.m. in the morning when you are just waking up and getting ready for work. That is when a person is most vulnerable in this lawyers’ opinion and is taken by surprise. They are always polite and soft spoken. Just exercise your constitutional right to have your attorney present.
OREGON MAN DRAWS OVER FOUR YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR FRAUD
On Sept. 9, David Ovist was sentenced to 57 months in prison for his role in a $2.5 million mortgage fraud scheme that involved four other investors who were also sentenced recently. U.S. District Court Judge Anna J. Brown also gave Ovist three years of supervised release.
Ovist was a licensed mortgage loan broker and the owner of Oregon Mortgage Services, Beaverton. He was also a real estate investor.
On Feb. 8, Ovist was convicted of bank fraud and wire fraud following a 10-day jury trial for preparing residential loan applications for 12 different properties that falsified the borrower’s financial qualifications. The applications were then submitted by Ovist to seven different banks and mortgage lenders. Ovist and the other investors manipulated the underwriting process in order to qualify borrowers for home loans they would not otherwise be qualified for so the investors could buy houses as an investment.
Ovist or the other investors falsified information about borrowers who had been recruited to obtain loans in their names because they had good credit, even though they could not otherwise qualify for the loans.
They falsely inflated the monthly income stated on the home loan applications, omitted liabilities including other mortgages, falsely claimed that the borrower intended to live in the property as a primary residence rather than purchase it as an investment property, used straw buyers to obtain loans for some of the properties, forged rental agreements to make it appear as if a borrower received rental income when she did not, and falsified employment verifications about the existence, nature, and length of a borrower’s employment.
The other investors already convicted in this scheme are Don Kazlauskas (six months in prison; six months home detention; and three years supervised release.); Jacob Shoop (six months of home detention; Ricki Shoop, Jacob’s father, got two months of home detention; and his mother Sherrie Inouye, received three years of supervised release.
At the sentencing of Ovist, Judge Brown stated, “The criminal conduct here is so repetitious and so serious that it requires a prison sentence.” The court rejected the notion that a white-collar defendant with no criminal record should be sentenced to probation, saying, “Somehow the notion is that prison isn’t going to happen. But it does.” (usattyor9913)
Did you notice father, mother and son convicted? The family that commits mortgage fraud together gets convicted of felony fraud together and there are a lot of disabilities that go along with federal felony convictions. If you would like to know what they are call me.
VIRGINIA FEDERAL COURT SENTENCES TWO FORECLOSURE RESCUE SCAMMERS TO FEDERAL PRISON
On Sept. 13, after pleading guilty, Mark S. Farhood and Jason S. Sant were sentenced for their roles in operating a nationwide online foreclosure rescue scam that went by various names and used various websites to deceive hundreds of vulnerable, distressed homeowners into surrendering their properties to the company.
Farhood got 11 years and Sant, six years. Each was also ordered to forfeit $2 million in fraud proceeds to the government, along with various bank accounts and other assets.
They marketed nationwide as purchasers of distressed real estate and a means by which vulnerable homeowners could avoid foreclosure and the accompanying negative effects on their credit. The companies the operated told homeowners they were in the business of negotiating with lenders to purchase mortgage notes at a discount and falsely claimed to have been in business for 17 years, to have experienced a 90% success rate in purchasing such notes, and to be the nation’s largest volume buyer of short sale and over-leveraged real estate.
Sant and Farhood admitted in connection with their pleas, the businesses were a fraud, no such negotiations with lenders ever took place, and the scheme was merely a way for them to take possession of hundreds of residential properties, including homes within the Eastern District of Virginia, at virtually no cost and then reap millions of dollars in profits by renting the homes to unsuspecting tenants.
Farhood and Sant further admitted that as part of the scheme, they submitted fraudulent loan modification applications to mortgage lenders under the Treasury Department’s Making Home Affordable Program in the name of homeowners, without the homeowners’ knowledge or consent. Farhood and Sant used the fraudulent applications to stall foreclosures on the properties under their control and for which no mortgage payments were being made and to maximize the time period during which they could collect rental income.
The homes purportedly sold to Home Advocate Trustees and its related entities ended in foreclosure, harming the participating homeowners and commonly resulting in eviction of the tenants. (usattyedva91313)
Gee, they paid $2 million to go to prison.
THE INFORMATION CONTAINED HEREIN IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE. AN ATTORNEY SHOULD BE CONSULTED IF YOU DESIRE LEGAL ADVICE.