The Justice Department and the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program sent two Florida men to prison for seven years for their role in a nationwide home-loan modification scam.
Christopher Godfrey, 44, of Delray Beach, Fla., and Dennis Fischer, 42, of Highland Beach, Fla., were sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Rya Zobel of the District of Massachusetts and ordered to serve three years of supervised release following their prison term.
The pair even used the seal of the U.S. government in forging the false mortgage modification documents.
"Scamming homeowners by selling for $400 to $2,000 what is a free application to TARP’s housing program is a despicable crime, and for their crimes, Godfrey and Fischer will each spend the next seven years in federal prison,” said Christy Romero, Special Inspector General for TARP.
"Godfrey and Fischer called their fraudulent scam ‘HOPE,’ exploiting the federal government’s foreclosure relief program of a similar name, all the while knowing that they were ripping off thousands of desperate homeowners already behind on their mortgages," Romero said.
Godfrey and Fischer taunted victims with messages such as, ‘Congratulations, you’ve been approved!’ and made empty money-back guarantees, Romero said.
The two men were able to bilk $4 million out of their victims.
HOPE sent its customers, including homeowners in Massachusetts, a do-it-yourself application package, which was virtually identical to the application that the government provides free of charge.
Most of the modifications were denied.
Godfrey and Fischer used their ill-gotten gain for extravagant trips to Dubai and France, luxury-shopping sprees, and to pay their own mortgages on waterfront homes in Florida beach communities.