RANCHO CUCAMONGA – Federal agents arrested 10 people on Wednesday for alleged loan modification scams that cheated homeowners of nearly $7 million.
Investigators reported that the 21st Century Real Estate Investment Corp. would provide homeowners loan modifications. Authorities allege that Andrea Ramirez of Rancho Cucamonga, 44, also known by the names Andrea Parker and Lisa Evans, ran the Rancho Cucamonga office located at 9340 Baseline, Suite 105 in Rancho Cucamonga, according to a news release by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles.
Mindy Sue Holt, 53, of San Bernardino, whose license was revoked in 2011, was described to be using unlicensed real estate agents and working on negotiations without having obtained a broker’s license, according to the charges.
The other eight defendants named in the indictment are Michael Bruce Bates, who also used the names Michael Bruce Myers and Robert Allen Castro, 61, of Moreno Valley, Hamid Reza Shalviri, 50, of Montebello, Yadira Garcia Padilla, 35, of Rancho Cucamonga, Christopher Paul George, 42, of Rancho Cucamonga, Crystal Taiwana Buck, 37, of Long Beach, Catalina Deleon, 35, of Glendora, Iris Melissa Pelayo, 42, of Upland, and Albert DiRoberto, 59, of Fullerton.
An 11th person being sought, Michael Lewis Parker, 34, of Pomona, is being sought. They disclosed that Andrea Ramirez and Parker are cousins.
The arrests come after an 18-month investigation that led to an indictment that describes a time between June 2008 and December 2009 that 21st Century made false claims about a loan modification process that was sponsored by the federal government, according to authorities. They claimed that 21st Century had the ability to negotiate loan modifications from mortgage lenders.
More than 4,000 people were victimized by the scammers, authorities said. Some not only lost their homes resulting from the alleged scam, said authorities, but each of the homeowners also lost thousands of dollars. Authorities reported that one couple reportedly paid nearly $14,000 for loan negotiations or modification services that apparently went nowhere. Many victims told authorities they were unable to contact 21st Century workers after they had paid fees. The average loss by each victim was about $4,000.
“The housing crisis provided fraud artists a new avenue to exploit people in financial distress,” said U.S. Attorney Andr Birotte Jr. in a written statement. “Many of the victims in this alleged scheme were in desperate financial straits, and shameless financial predators promised relief they could not deliver. As a result, many homeowners went into foreclosure and now have to deal with the ramifications of losing their homes.”
A statement from Federal Housing Finance Agency warned homeowners of potential problems. “The government created programs intended to assist homeowners by allowing them to remain in their homes during these troubling financial times,” said FHFA Inspector General Steve Linick. “Anyone attempting to engage in schemes designed to exploit struggling homeowners and the government programs created to help those same homeowners will ultimately be brought to justice.”
The Sun: Ten arrested in loan modification scam
Press Enterprise: Eleven indicted in loan modification scam