A California man who pleaded guilty to his role in a loan modification and money laundering scheme has been sentenced to eight years in state prison, the Orange County District Attorney announced.
Assad Suleiman pleaded guilty to charges related to the operation of a scam that defrauded nearly $2.3 million from 387 homeowners. He faced 43 counts of money laundering, 10 for grand theft, 10 for second-degree burglary, as well as a charge for conspiracy to commit grand theft, money laundering, and unlawful loan modification.
In addition to the prison sentence, Suleiman was ordered to pay about $1.6 million in restitution.
Authorities said that between May 2012 and July 2017, Suleiman and his co-conspirators cooperated in the operation of the following entities: Jefferson Legal Group, Simplify Law Group, Synergy Law Center, and Wilshire Debt Advisors. Despite the misleading names, these entities operated without any lawyers.
The scheme involved charging victims advance fees for loan modification, which is against California law. If no loan modification was approved, they ceased communication with the victims after receiving an initial payment. In case of an approval, they told victims that a trial payment and/or lump-sum payment to their lender was required to cover taxes and various fraudulent fees.
The homeowners were directed to pay one of the four fraudulent entities. However, the entities failed to forward any payments to the mortgage lenders. Instead, they laundered the money by depositing funds into the defendants’ Chase Bank and Bank of America accounts under their fraudulent businesses names.
“This fraud scheme was particularly effective and insidious because the lenders were never aware that trial payments and impound fees had been collected by the conspirators, and the homeowners believed the lies the conspirators made to them that their monies would be forwarded to their lenders,” according to the announcement. “Many homeowners never discovered the fraud until their lenders commenced foreclosure against their homes.”
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