U.S. Marshals have arrested a man they say was behind a mortgage scheme that stole millions from the elderly and non-English speaking Hispanics, according to Las Vegas’s KSNV.
Jose Benjamin “Ben” Rodriguez had been on the run for several months after being indicted along with seven others on charges of mortgage fraud and theft. He was arrested over Labor Day weekend after a tip led U.S. Marshals to a location in the Las Vegas area, according to KSNV.
Prosecutors say Rodriguez scammed nearly 100 distressed homeowners, claiming he could lower their mortgage payments through a program called “Start New.” He told homeowners to give him their mortgage payments while he worked on their cases, then pocketed the money.
Santiago Bahena, 55, told KSNV that he nearly lost his home after trusting Rodriguez. Bahena paid Rodriguez $800 a month for almost a year even as default notices filled his mailbox. Bahena told KSNV that Rodriguez claimed the notices were nothing to worry about.
““He also told me they were going to get letters from the bank, don't open them,” Bahena said. After realizing he had been scammed, Bahena filed for bankruptcy and hired a lawyer who saved his home a mere 30 minutes before it was set to go on the auction block, according to KSNV.
Rose Loob, 80, wasn’t so lucky. She paid Rodriguez $16,000, only to find her home in foreclosure.
“Every time we went in he was smooth talking, and he answered our questions and we didn't think anything was wrong,” Loob told KSNV.