Six people in Utah are facing federal charges for preying on thousands of homeowners caught up in the mortgage crash of 2008.
Federal agents executed search warrants at the mortgage law offices of CC Brown in West Valley City and Midvale three years ago, and now federal prosecutors are bringing a 40-count federal indictment against Chad Gettel, 39, of Salt Lake City; John McCall, 43, of Park City; Noemi Lozano, 24, of San Diego; Sheridan Black, 66, of South Jordan; James Scott Creasey, 36, of Riverton; and Jeremiah Barrett, 33, of Bountiful.
The six face federal charges for conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, telemarketing fraud and money laundering. Prosecutors say the six were involved in a scheme to market and sell home loan modification services to distressed homeowners.
Investigators believe the alleged scheme involved more than 10,000 victims in nearly every state in the country with losses of more than $33 million.
Federal prosecutors say the group created a loan modification business while also creating "the false impression that their loan modification business was a law firm."
But while homeowners waited for months to hear about the status of their loan modification, their bills continued to go unpaid. Some were already in default, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
"In some instances, customers lost their homes to foreclosure while still waiting for word on their loan modification from CC Brown," the statement reads. "The indictment alleges that the object of the conspiracy for the defendants was to market and sell loan modification services using false and fraudulent pretenses to obtain money from customers and to enrich themselves.”
Each defendant faces up to 30 years in prison for each count of conspiracy, mail fraud and wire fraud.
"Taking advantage of desperate homeowners is a deplorable act," Mary Rook, special agent in charge of the FBI's Salt Lake office, said in a prepared statement. "Fraudulent loan modification schemes, which raise false hopes with phony promises of legal representation, take advantage of struggling homeowners willing to do almost anything to save their homes. Individuals committing loan modification fraud profit from that desperation."