A California woman will spend the next 70 months in federal prison after being convicted of concocting and perpetrating a scheme that defrauded struggling homeowners by offering them a fabricated opportunity to save their homes.
According to the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, Najia Jalan received a sentence of 70 months in federal prison for her role in a scheme that involved Jalan falsely presenting herself as a member of the Department of the Treasury, pretending she was an attorney, defying a restraining order placed on her business by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and eventually being caught as she tried to flee the country after her scheme was discovered.
Beginning in December 2012, and continuing through October. 2014, in Orange County, California and elsewhere, Jalan devised, participated in, and executed a scheme to defraud and obtain money from distressed homeowners across the country.
According to SIGTARP, Jalan operated several businesses that promised mortgage relief assistance to consumers through entities titled National Legal Help Center, United National mortgage Protection Center – National Consumer Assistance Center Business Trust, also known as Bank & Trust, OC NonProfit, American Consumer Law Center, and the US Litigation Firm, also known as The US Law Firm.
Jalan’s operations and assets were frozen in 2012 by the CFPB, but that didn’t stop her from continuing the scheme.
“Najia Jalan masqueraded that she was part of Treasury, that she was an attorney, and that she was a consumer advocate, convincing homeowners to pay her as the first step in getting their mortgage modified under HAMP, when the reality is that this was one in a long list of crimes of dishonesty for this convicted felon,” said Christy Goldsmith Romero, Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
According to Romero, Jalan made up fake corporations, stole people’s names, and even set up a fake “Homeowners HOPE Hotline” to lure in desperate homeowners into participating in the scheme.
As part of the scheme, Jalan induced homeowners facing foreclosure to pay an illegal advance fee to one of her entities for purported mortgage relief services, and/or legal services that could save their homes from foreclosure.
According SIGTARP, to obtain the homeowner’s money, defendant made material omissions and false promises and statements, including: falsely promising consumers mortgage loan modifications that would substantially reduce their mortgage payments or interest rates or help consumers avoid foreclosure; falsely claiming her services were subject to a money back guarantee; falsely claiming to be a law firm; impersonating the identities of licensed attorneys; and omitting the material fact that she had been prohibited by a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to offer such services.
In executing the scheme, Jalan provided false statements to distressed homeowners, claiming that she was a licensed attorney of another name, that her companies were working directly with the Department of Treasury, that her fake company USLF was a law firm, and that homeowners needed to open a “mortgage fraud investigation” against their servicer as a required first-step in applying for the TARP Home Affordable Modification Program – all of which were untrue.
“(Jalan) stole their money and provided no service at all, and as a result people lost their homes,” Romero said. “She continued the scheme after the Government shut down her operations, and she tried to flee the country after SIGTARP unraveled her fraud scheme. SIGTARP caught her as she attempted to flee and worked to bring her to justice with our law enforcement partners.”
As part of her sentence, Jalan was ordered pay $236,785 in restitution and will have a three-year supervised release period after her 70-month sentence is complete.
“Najia Jalan preyed on families and individuals that were already facing tremendous financial strain,” said U.S. Attorney Eileen Decker of the Central District of California. “Jalan’s persistent and devastating fraud warranted this significant sentence.”