The former owner and chief executive officer of a California mortgage brokerage will spend nearly the next eight years in federal prison after pleading guilty to charges that he falsely promised to help distressed homeowners avoid foreclosure.

But instead of actually helping the struggling homeowners keep their homes, David Singui, and his company, Direct Money Source, stole the equity in the homes and served as the homeowners’ impostor landlord for a period of years, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California said this week.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Singui, 52, pled guilty to conspiracy, loan fraud, aggravated identity theft and tax evasion charges stemming from a scheme that caused struggling homeowners to lose more than $4 million and cost lending institutions more than $11 million.

In a release, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said that Direct Money Source offered a “Fresh Start Program,” which claimed it that could help distressed homeowners avoid foreclosure by connecting them with a “credit investor,” who would buy their homes, and hold it for them for a year, allowing the borrower to repair their credit.

Then the “credit investor” would sell them back to the original homeowners, at a lower interest rate.

The distressed homeowners were also told that Direct Money Source would draw down on the equity in their homes and use the revenues to make monthly mortgage payments during the one-year period.

Or at least that’s what they were promised.

In actuality, Direct Money Source and Singui took permanent title to these properties and misappropriated the distressed homeowners’ equity, while Direct Money Source and Singui ended up serving as the landlord of these distressed properties and collected rent from the homeowners for more than five years.

That’s because in reality, the “credit investors” were actually straw buyers whose names were used to buy the homes.

All in all, Direct Money Source took title on about 50 distressed properties and misappropriated the existing equity in the homes. Direct Money Source and its principals also falsified the employment, bank account and income information of the straw borrowers on the loan applications.

At the end of each of these transactions, Direct Money Source typically ended up with approximately $100,000 equity per transaction, plus around $35,000 in fees and commissions associated with each loan.

In the meantime, each of the straw borrowers ended up owing approximately $300,000 or more on loans that went into default because Direct Money Source did not make the mortgage payments as promised.

This led to banks suffering more than $11 million in losses and the homeowners suffering losses of over $4 million as a result of the theft of the equity in their homes, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

“Mortgage rescue schemes cause significant harm to distressed homeowners, as well as to financial institutions that are often defrauded in the scams,” United States Attorney Eileen Decker said. “These schemes target vulnerable victims who are already in financial jeopardy and make their plights even worse.”

According to Decker, some of the victims were left homeless as a result of this “predatory” scheme.

“The defendant preyed on struggling and trusting homeowners, literally stealing the American Dream out from under them, with no remorse,” said IRS Criminal Investigation Acting Special Agent in Charge Anthony Orlando. “Today’s sentencing exemplifies the continued effort by federal law enforcement to investigate and prosecute those who commit mortgage fraud.”