The former owner of a California foreclosure rescue business will spend the next 14 years in prison after admitting in court that he used the business to steal struggling borrowers’ homes during the housing crisis.
Earlier this year, Sergio Barrientos pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting a financial institution and bank fraud.
According to court documents, from about September 2004 through February 2008, Barrientos and co-conspirators Zalathiel Aguila and Omar Anabo operated a business in California called Capital Access.
The company offered a “Keep Your Home” program that targeted borrowers who were struggling with their mortgages and facing foreclosure. The program offered a temporary rescue plan where “qualified investors” would assume a borrower’s mortgage while the borrower paid rent and worked toward rebuilding their credit.
But the program was a lie.
According to court documents, Barrientos, Aguila, and Anabo convinced the struggling borrowers to sign over the titles to their homes, then stole and spent any equity those homeowners had in their homes.
Barrientos, Aguila, and Anabo then used straw buyers to defraud financial institutions out of millions of dollars in loans obtained under false pretenses.
The equity the trio stripped out of the distressed borrowers’ homes was used for the scheme’s operational expenses and for the trio’s personal expenses.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, a number of homeowners in California lost their homes and savings as a result of the scheme, while the targeted lenders lost an estimated $10.47 million from the fraud.
And now, after pleading guilty, the 64-year-old Barrientos will spend 14 years in federal prison.