Federal agents arrested 10 defendants who worked at a Rancho Cucamonga, California-based business accused of offering false loan modification programs to homeowners, ""SIGTARP"":http://www.sigtarp.gov/Pages/home.aspx announced Wednesday.[IMAGE]
Those taken into custody are among 11 defendants named in a federal indictment following a joint investigation by SIGTARP, the ""FBI"":http://www.fbi.gov/, ""IRS'"":http://www.irs.gov/ Criminal Investigations division, the ""United States Postal Inspection Service"":https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/, and ""FHFA"":http://www.fhfa.gov/.
According to the indictment, defendant Andrea Ramirez and several of her employees operated a loan mod scheme out of 21st Century Real Estate Investment Corp. and several other businesses. Those businesses targeted distressed homeowners and made false promises and guarantees about their abilities to negotiate loan modifications.[COLUMN_BREAK]
The indictment also alleges that 21st Century falsely represented that it was operating a government-sponsored loan mod program and instructed homeowners to cease communicating with or paying their mortgage lenders.
The defendants are also charged with taking money from homeowners and falsely saying it would be used to help make mortgage payments. They then simply kept the money, the indictment alleges.
As a result of the alleged scheme, more than 4,000 financially distressed homeowners lost at least $7 million in fees paid to the company. In addition, many homeowners lost their homes to foreclosure.
All 11 defendants are charged with nine felony counts-five counts of mail fraud, three counts of wire fraud, and one count of conspiracy. Each count carries a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
""The housing crisis provided fraud artists a new avenue to exploit people in financial distress,"" said United States Attorney ""AndrÃƒÂ© Birotte Jr"":http://www.justice.gov/usao/cac/. ""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.""