7 INDICTED IN
MODIFICATION FRAUD CASE
In a 14-count indictment based on conspiracy and fraud offenses, seven individuals were charged for a scheme designed to defraud homeowners across the United States who were trying to get mortgage loan modifications. Law enforcement seized more than $1 million in assets, including $350,000 from various bank accounts, approximately $362,000 from a Bitcoin account, a $100,000 cashier’s check, and a 2013 Ferrari 458 Italia.
The defendants jointly operated a series of companies based in California that pretended to provide home mortgage loan modification services to homeowners in exchange for upfront fees. Over the time frame of their fraudulent activities, the defendants cold-called homeowners and said they’d already been approved for loan modifications with favorable terms.
In addition to misleading homeowners about pre-approval, the defendants told homeowners that they would receive financial assistance under government mortgage relief programs — and if the mortgage loan fell through, homeowners would be entitled to a full refund of their fees. The upfront fees they charged were usually between $2,500 and $4,300.
Unfortunately, most homeowners hadn’t been pre-approved, didn’t have a legitimate mortgage loan modification through a reputable lender, and never received a refund when they requested one. To make matters even
worse, the defendants used numerous pseudonyms and changed both their business and operating names to make it virtually impossible for their victims to find them.
Here are just a few of the many business names they adopted to perpetuate their fraud:
- First Choice Financial Group, Inc.
- First Choice Debt
- Legal Modification Firm
- Home Care Alliance Group
- Best Rate Financial Solutions
- Green Tree Financial
If convicted, these defendants face a maximum term of 20 years for each count, which includes charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud. They will also face an additional 10 years for participating in a crime involving telemarketing fraud that victimized 10 people who were over 55 years old. Depending on the defendant, they could be looking at 50 years for their crimes.
These individuals were opportunists, plain and simple. They took full advantage of the national mortgage crisis by targeting vulnerable homeowners who were facing economic hardship. If you’re thinking these criminals didn’t know that what they were doing was wrong, think again. The defendants ignored cease and desist orders directed at them for years, including one on December 17, 2013, from the State of Connecticut Department of Banking.
The good news is that the defendants involved in this scam failed to evade the watchful eye of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and a number of other agencies and organizations. In spite of their attempts to evade law enforcement by changing their names and the name of their fraudulent enterprise, the defendants are now being prosecuted by the U.S. District of Connecticut Federal Court.
We wanted to commemorate the occasion by profiling an amazing woman from history named Stephanie Kwolek. You may not have heard of her before, but you’ve probably heard of the invention she helped make possible: Kevlar.
After Kwolek graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, she was hired on at chemical company DuPont for a temporary position. However, she liked the work so much, she decided to stay — and she remained there for 40 years!
Her first position was formulating new synthetic fibers. She started in 1960, working with long molecule chains at low temperatures. In 1965, she made a huge discovery while working with a liquid crystal solution of large molecules called polymers. Her work resulted in a fiber that was unusually lightweight but extremely durable.
Eventually, this material was later developed by DuPont into Kevlar, a versatile synthetic material that has since found its way into military helmets, work gloves, bulletproof vests, sports equipment, fiber-optic cables, and building materials. For her contributions and her research on synthetic fibers, Kwolek was awarded the National Medal of Technology, and she was also inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1994.
Over her career, Kwolek’s research efforts earned her 17 U.S. patents, and she also received other prestigious awards like the Kilby International Award and the 1999 Lemelson–MIT Lifetime Achievement Award. She was a prolific inventor, scientist, and researcher.
So what makes this material so special and Kwolek so deserving of her recognition? Kevlar is five times as strong as steel, resistant to everything from corrosion to flames, and flexible enough to wear on the human body. Thousands of law enforcement officers and soldiers rely on Kevlar every day.
It’s also significant to note that Kwolek graduated from college and started working at a time when most women didn’t get a degree or participate in the workforce. She served as an inspiration to women, especially women intimidated by science and technology. In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re proud to remember the inimitable Stephanie Kwolek!
REAL COURT CASE NAMES
Terrible v. Terrible
Nebraska v. One 1970 2-Door Sedan Rambler (Gremlin)
United States v. Approximately 64,695 Pounds of Shark Fins
United States v. Article Consisting of 50,000 Cardboard Boxes More or Less, Each Containing One Pair of Clacker Balls
Juicy Whip v. Orange Bang
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