Wednesday, June 5, 2013

San Diego Feds Send Loan Modification Peddler Packing For 57 Months For Ripping Off 120+ Homeowners Out Of $670K+; Probe Into Legitimacy Of Offered Services Triggered When Postal Inspectors Scored 750+ Undeliverable Solicitation Letters In One Month Bearing Non-Existent, Incorrect Return Addresses

From the Office of the U.S. Attorney (San Diego, California):

  • United States Attorney Laura E. Duffy announced that Christian Hidalgo of Chula Vista was sentenced [] to 57 months of custody by District Court Judge William Q. Hayes for a mortgage loan-modification scheme that cheated over 120 people out of over $670,000, and resulted in the loss of many homes to foreclosure. Hidalgo was also ordered to pay full restitution to all of his victims.
  • In order to carry out his fraud, Hidalgo sent hundreds of solicitation letters in which he falsely represented that these businesses were affiliated with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD"), and its Home Affordable Modification Program ("HAMP").

    The letters would direct the recipients to contact one of Hidalgo's business entities by telephone, or obtain information from one of the websites he had created to advertise his services. Hidalgo targeted low-income persons in Southern California with Hispanic surnames by obtaining marketing leads with this specific criteria.
  • For his part, Hidalgo spent the victim funds in a variety of ways, including purchasing a BMW, diamond rings, a large-screen television, and firearms. All of these items, were seized by the United States and forfeited as part of Hidalgo's sentence. The items will be sold at auction, with proceeds going to the victims.

    Hidalgo's scheme was discovered after Special Agents from the United States Postal Inspection Service of the Downtown San Diego Station received over 750 undeliverable solicitation letters in April 2011 sent by Hidalgo and associates. The solicitation letters appeared to offer loan modification services and a free consultation regarding HAMP, or another HUD home-loan restructure program.

    Because the letters bore non-existent or incorrect return addresses, Postal Inspection agents began investigating the legitimacy of the offered services. In conjunction with the HUD Office of the Inspector General, agents interviewed hundreds of victims, conducted various searches, and seized property purchased with proceeds obtained pursuant to Hidalgo's fraudulent scheme.

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