A California woman is set to join her husband in serving time in federal prison for their roles in a massive mortgage fraud scheme that defrauded struggling homeowners out of more than $5.8 million.
Tamara Tikal, 45, of Rio Vista, will serve the next 45 months in federal prison for her conviction for conspiring to commit mail fraud in relation to a foreclosure rescue scam perpetrated by herself, her husband Alan David Tikal, and Ray Kornfield.
Alan Tikal, 46, was convicted of 11 counts of mail fraud and one count of money laundering stemming from his role in a “large-scale mortgage fraud scheme.”
Earlier this year, Alan Tikal was sentenced to 24 years in prison, for his part in the scheme.
According to evidence presented at Alan Tikal’s trial, between January 7, 2010 and August 20, 2013, he operated a business under the name KATN, which targeted “vulnerable and non-English speaking homeowners,” who were looking for mortgage assistance in the wake of the financial meltdown.
Tikal and his associates, which included his wife Tamara, promised homeowners their outstanding mortgage debt would be reduced by 75%.
Tikal also falsely claimed that he was a registered private banker with access to an “enormous” line of credit and was able to pay off homeowners’ debt in full.
In exchange for various fees and payments, Tikal claimed the homeowners’ existing mortgages would then be satisfied and replaced with new loans to Tikal at 25% of the original loan obligation.
According to evidence, there were no instances in which a homeowner’s mortgage was paid, forgiven, or extinguished by Tikal.
Instead, Tikal took the victim’s money from himself and spent it on chartered airline travel, a $5,000 suit, new cars, and other extravagant living expenses, the State of California said in a release.
When Tikal was convicted, Christy Romero, the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, said that after Tikal was arrested, he continued to run the scheme that fraudulently stalled foreclosure proceedings brought by TARP banks from inside his prison cell.
Romero said this week that Tamara Tikal also operated the scam while her husband was in jail.
“After Tikal’s husband and scam ringleader Alan David Tikal was twice jailed for his role in the scheme, Tamara Tikal continued operating the scam on his behalf, during which time many of their victims, many of whom didn’t speak English as their primary language, fell into foreclosure and lost their homes,” Romero said.
“In exchange for cash payments from victim homeowners, Alan David Tikal and his co-conspirators exploited bankruptcy law as a way to illegally and temporarily halt foreclosure proceedings by mortgage lenders, including TARP recipients,” Romero added.
According to SIGTARP, Tamara Tikal filled a variety of roles in the supposed business, including paying the salaries of various employees, serving as a notary for various documents utilized in the scheme, and opening and maintaining post-office boxes and bank accounts that received homeowner payments.
Tamara Tikal also communicated with individual homeowners, assuring them of the legitimacy of the program.
But the Tikals never made any payments to financial institutions on behalf of homeowners in satisfaction of their pre-existing mortgage debt obligations, SIGTARP said.
Instead, the money for the supposed “loan” payments was spent by the Tikals and their associates for personal use.
“There was not a single instance in which a homeowner’s debt was paid, forgiven, or otherwise extinguished as a result of the mortgage relief program,” SIGTARP said in a release.
In total, more than one thousand homeowners in California and other states were convinced to participate in the program.
As a result of their participation, many homeowners became delinquent on their loans and ultimately had their homes foreclosed upon. Those homeowners paid more than $5.8 million in fees and monthly payments into the program. Of those funds, more than $2.5 million was paid into accounts controlled by the Tikals.
Tamara Tikal was also ordered to pay $3,671,000 in restitution to victims of the offense.
“Tamara Tikal was sentenced to 45 months in federal prison for her role in a massive fraud scheme that robbed more than one thousand struggling homeowners out of millions of dollars in savings with false promises of saving victims’ homes from foreclosure,” Romero said. “Those who engage in fraud related to TARP will be brought to justice by SIGTARP and our law enforcement partners.”