Thursday, July 4, 2013

Loan Modification Scammer Cops Guilty Plea For Pocketing Upfront Fees In Exchange For Phony Foreclosure Avoidance Promises

In San Jose, California, the San Jose Mercury News reports:

  • A real estate agent who targeted the Spanish-speaking community in the South Bay with a refinancing scam has been convicted of what prosecutors called "a vastly underreported crime."

    Michael Mendoza, 56, pleaded guilty this month to accepting advance fees for loan modifications and performing unlicensed real estate activity, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.

    According to prosecutors, Mendoza, who owns San Jose-based Broker's Mortgage Investment, would collect $3,000 from victims with a promise that he would negotiate a more affordable home loan, but then do nothing and stop returning calls after a few months.

    Mendoza's employee Maria "Marilou" Jackson, 59, also pleaded guilty. They were sentenced to three years of probation and fined. Mendoza also had to reimburse the victims for their losses.

    Prosecutor David Lim of the county's Real Estate Fraud Unit said it's a common scam, particularly within the Latino community. "I wish I could tell all the victims of this crime that they are not to blame, there are no immigration consequences and to come to us," he said in a news release. "We are only here to stop these financial predators and help victims get their money back."

    In addition to Broker's Mortgage, the pair ran the affiliated Tical Trading Company. They advertised on Spanish-language radio and television channels and promised that they could help homeowners from falling into foreclosure. Anyone with information about a similar refinancing scam can contact prosecutor Lim at 408-808-3754.

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