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Feds indict “mastermind” of foreclosure scam that bilked $7 million from struggling borrowers

Charged with 11 counts relating to bankruptcy fraud

A California man stands accused of leading a foreclosure-avoidance scam that preyed on struggling borrowers to the tune of $7 million in ill-gotten gains.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, Michael “Mickey” Henschel was arrested last week and charged with 11 counts related to the foreclosure scam.

Per the details of his indictment, Henschel owned a Van Nuys-based company that operated under several names, including Valueline. But the company didn’t operate by legitimate means, the indictment alleges. Instead, Henschel is the alleged “mastermind” of a foreclosure scam.

Through that business, Henschel and several co-conspirators allegedly marketed illegal foreclosure- and eviction-delay services to homeowners in default on their mortgages and renters who were facing eviction.

As part of the scheme, Henschel and his co-conspirators allegedly convinced homeowners to sign fake grant deeds that supposedly showed that the homeowners conveyed an interest in their properties to fictional third parties.

Henschel and his co-conspirators then allegedly filed bankruptcies in the names of fake people to trigger the automatic stay provision of the Bankruptcy Code, which halted the foreclosure sales.

Henschel also allegedly used a similar method to delay evictions, filing fraudulent documents in state eviction actions and sending similar documents to sheriff’s offices.

For his “services,” Henschel allegedly charged some homeowners large fees before agreeing to clear the title to their properties, in addition to the monthly fees paid for the illegal services.

All in all, during the course of the scheme, which ran from October 2010 through July 2013, Henschel and his co-conspirators allegedly collected more than $7 million for the illegal actions.

Henschel stands charged with one count of conspiracy, eight counts of bankruptcy fraud and two counts of wire fraud.

If convicted of the charges, Henschel would face a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison for each of the conspiracy and bankruptcy fraud counts, while the two wire fraud counts carry a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years.

At his arraignment, Henschel entered a plea of not guilty. His trial is scheduled for Aug. 8, 2017.

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