Operator Of Alleged Loan Modification Scam Faces 15+ Counts Of Grand Theft, Burglary For Allegedly Ripping Off $35K+ From Homeowners Facing Foreclosure
In Tulare County, California, the Visalia Times Delta reports:
- A Tulare County man accused of swindling more than $35,000 from people at risk of losing their homes was arrested last week in southern California.
Five years after Ricardo Melgoza began a scheme to defraud homeowners in default of their mortgage loan, according to police, he was charged with more than 15 counts of grand theft and burglary.
“There is probable cause to believe that from July 2008 to July 2010, Melgoza and additional agents, associates, affiliates and/or co-conspirators, engaged in a scheme to defraud homeowners for financial gain, and that the loss was in excess of $35,000,” stated Special Agent Cesar Sanchez in an arrest warrant.
Melgoza, 43, is said to have swindled homeowners throughout Tulare, Fresno and Kern counties. According to police, Melgoza and at least five associates were operating under the business KNC Financiera. The group would target the Spanish-speaking community and aired numerous commercials with Spanish language media outlets.
Melgoza, who’s being held in Tulare County’s Pretrial Facility, doesn’t have a valid Social Security number or driver’s license. He is also being held on an immigration hold, according to the arrest warrant.
Police say Melgoza and associates would promise to obtain a home loan modification for the homeowners, in exchange for a fee anywhere between $1,500 and $3,400. Typically, Melgoza required an upfront cash payment for the fee.
“It is currently illegal to accept fees for a loan modification,” said Lisa Stratton, a spokeswoman for the Department of Consumer Affairs. “The mortgage crisis brought a lot of fraud with it.”
After the payment had been made, according to police, Melgoza would inform the homeowner that he was unable to obtain a loan modification. Instead, he referred them to one of two attorneys working in conjunction with Melgoza, police said.
At times, he would refund the money back to homeowners, but used checks from an account with no available money, police added.
Both lawyers, David Robinson and Mark Shoemaker, were disbarred by the state. In Robinson’s case, he was disbarred a year before the schemes began, the arrest warrant states.