A Florida man was sentenced on Tuesday to serve 12 months and one day in prison for defrauding thousands of homeowners in a $4 million nationwide home loan modification scheme.
Vernell Burris Jr. was sentenced to prison along with two other previously sentenced co-defendants, Christopher Godfrey and Dennis Fischer, in a continuing SIGTARP case.
Burris pleaded guilty on Nov. 28, 2012, to one count of conspiracy and to nine counts of wire fraud.
The announcement came from the office of Special Inspector General for the Trouble Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP), Christy Romero.
Burris worked alongside Godfrey and Fischer operating a fraudulent home modification scam. The group operated Home Owners Protection Economics Inc. (HOPE), which falsely represented itself to induce homeowners to pay fees in exchange for HOPE’s assistance in obtaining federally funded home loan modifications.
The group "claimed that the homeowner had already been approved for a loan modification, provided phony "approval codes," quoted new (and wholly fictitious) mortgage terms and due dates, touted their 98 percent past success rate and claimed that they were "underwriters" or were otherwise affiliated with the homeowners' mortgage companies."
Together, the group persuaded thousands of homeowners to part with $400 to $2,000 dollars of fees totaling upwards of $4 million.
The remaining defendant in the case, Brian Kelly, has pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.