California charges 4 over $2M mortgage fraud scheme

by Francis Monfort21 Feb 2018

Four individuals have been indicted over a mortgage fraud scheme that resulted in losses of about $2 million for 40 victims, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced.

Andrew Valles, Jemal Lilly, Mark Bellinger, and Arnold Millman face 194 criminal felony counts and were indicted by a grand jury in the San Diego Superior Court. The charges include grand theft, filing false or forged documents in a public office, conspiracy to commit those offenses, and identity theft, as well as special allegations for aggravated white-collar crime.

According to the indictment, between 2012 and 2017, the group used a fake insurance company called SafeCare to offer home loan services to primarily Latino and African-American families seeking loans to help pay off their mortgages.

As part of the scheme, the group would use fictitious names to file false bankruptcy and other court documents to delay foreclosures and eviction actions. They would also instruct victims to deposit illegal advance fees and other large payments into a bank account they controlled. When the promised loan did not come through, the group would proceed with the fabricated filings.

It was also alleged that one individual posed as an attorney purporting to assist the victims and charged victims additional fees for the false attorney services. The scheme took place in San Diego, Riverside, Orange, Los Angeles, and San Bernardino counties.

Lilly and Bellinger were arrested in January and pleaded not guilty at their arraignments. Valles and Millman have not been arrested and are currently at large.

“These individuals are alleged to have played a role in this scheme by promising distressed homeowners new financing, only to turn around and deliver bad credit,” said Rene Febles, deputy inspector general for investigations for the Federal Housing Finance Agency Office of the Inspector General. “These actions not only cost the government-sponsored enterprises and financial institutions hundreds of thousands of dollars, but they harmed consumers who were trying to do the right thing.”

Related stories:
Top mortgage execs admit to $8.9 million scam
Loan officer charged with using own bank statement in mortgage fraud scheme

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