California man headed to prison for $10.47 million mortgage scam

by Ryan Smith25 Nov 2019

A California man is headed to federal prison for his role in a years-old mortgage scam that cost lenders more than $10 million and homeowners their homes and savings.

Omar Anabo, 57, has been sentenced to three years in prison for conspiracy to make false statements on loan applications, according to US Attorney McGregor W. Scott. US District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. also ordered Anabo to pay $379,068 in restitution to the victims of the scam.

Anabo and co-conspirators Sergio Roman Barrientos and Zalathiel Aquila ran the scam during the years before the financial crisis, according to the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California. The three men operated a company known as Capital Access, which prosecutors said preyed on homeowners nearing foreclosure. The conspirators convinced homeowners to sign over the titles to their homes, then spent any equity those homeowners still had, using it to fund the operational expenses of the scheme and the personal expenses of the scammers.

Anabo, Barrientos and Aguila also used straw buyers to obtain mortgages under false pretenses and defraud financial insititutions.

“Vulnerable homeowners across California lost their homes and savings as a result of the scheme, and lenders lost an estimated $10.47 million from the fraud,” the US Attorney’s Office said.

Barrientos was sentenced in 2018 to 14 years for his part in the fraud. Aguila was sentenced this year to four years in prison.