Brian Kelly, 37, was sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison for defrauding thousands of homeowners out of $4 million in a nationwide home-loan modification scam.
Kelly and others, operating under the name Home Owners Protection Economics, Inc., would contact struggling homeowners and offer to assist them in obtaining federally funded home-loan modifications under the Home Affordable Modification Program.
In exchange for up-front fees ranging from $400 to $2,000, HOPE would send its customers a do-it-yourself application package, which was virtually identical to the application that the government provides free of charge.
The HOPE customers had no advantage in the application process, and, in fact, most of their applications were denied. Through these misrepresentations, HOPE was able to persuade thousands of homeowners to pay more than $4 million in fees.
“Kelly was a chief telemarketer at ‘HOPE’ and was on the frontline defrauding struggling homeowners out of their homes, making false promises, and taking what precious, little savings they had left,” said Christy Romero, Special Inspector General for TARP.
“Kelly and his colleagues, many of whom he trained, duped thousands of distressed homeowners. Victim homeowners nationwide were cheated out of more than $4 million by Kelly’s cruel, misleading reassurances of HOPE’s near ‘100 percent success rate’ in obtaining modifications; pledges of money-back guarantees in the ‘remote’ chance that an application was denied; and false exclamations like, ‘Congratulations, you’ve been approved!’”
According to court records, Kelly was one of HOPE’s more successful salespeople, receiving approximately $24,000 after arranging fraudulent home loan modifications totaling approximately $180,000.
Kelly and others at HOPE routinely claimed that the homeowner had already been approved for a loan modification, provided phony “approval codes,” quoted new and fictitious mortgage terms and due dates, touted their 98% success rate and claimed that they were “underwriters” or were otherwise affiliated with the homeowners’ mortgage companies.
HOPE also claimed that it would offer homeowners refunds in the unlikely event that they did not receive a loan modification.
Kelly pleaded guilty on May 2, 2013 to one count of conspiracy, nine counts of mail fraud, and nine counts of wire fraud.
Two co-defendants, Christopher Godfrey and Dennis Fischer, were convicted and sentenced on February 20 to seven years in federal prison. A third co-defendant, Vernell Burris, pleaded guilty and was sentenced on February 25 to serve one year and one day in jail as well.
“SIGTARP will bring justice to all those who exploit the federal government’s response to the financial crisis,” Romero said.