Thursday, November 29, 2012

Pair Busted For Allegedly Running Loan Modification Racket Under Guise Of Non-Profit Group; Pocketed Homeowner Cash They Promised Would Be Applied To Mortgage Payments: Cops

In St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, The Times-Picayune reports:

  • Two women who worked for a Mandeville nonprofit agency that was supposed to help homeowners in danger of foreclosure have been arrested and charged with theft. St. Tammany Sheriff's Office officials said the two women were pocketing money intended for mortgage payments.

    Shawn Singleton, 52, and Angela Lyle, 44, were booked last week into the St. Tammany Parish jail and charged with theft of more than $1,500. They each have been released on $10,000 bonds.

    Singleton, of Mandeville, and Lyle, of Biloxi, worked for Life Impact Center, a nonprofit organization affiliated with Life Church in Mandeville, Sheriff's Office Capt. George Bonnett said. The organization was billed as working with mortgage companies to restructure home loans and help homeowners avoid foreclosure, Bonnett said.

    According to GuideStar, a nonprofit organization that gathers and publicizes information about other nonprofit organizations, Life Impact Center was founded in 2010. It is listed as a financial counseling and money management organization.

    Bonnett said the Sheriff's Office received its first complaint about Life Impact Center in October 2011. Homeowners who were doing business with the organization said they had been making payments -- categorized as "good faith payments" -- to Life Impact Center, and believed the organization was in turn making payments to their mortgage company.

    Homeowners told Sheriff's Office investigators that their homes were foreclosed on even after they made those payments. Bonnett said when the mortgage companies were contacted, they said they never received money from Life Impact Center.

    Bonnet said the Sheriff's Office found that in the nearly 20 months the organization was in operation, it received $150,000 from clients. Of that money, 90 percent was spent on salaries for Singleton and Lyle, Bonnett said.

    The Sheriff's Office so far has received more than a dozen complaints about the organization, and Bonnett said the Sheriff's Office investigation into the organization continues. Singleton and Lyle are the only two people who have been identified as participating in this scheme, he said.

    If convicted of the theft charges, Singleton and Lyle each could face up to 10 years in prison.

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