Two men accused of concocting a scheme to prey upon distressed homeowners pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges in connection with an online foreclosure auction scam, according to the Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

The two defendants – Mark S. Farhood, 49, formerly of San Diego, and Jason S. Sant, 37, of Lecanto, Fla. – are accused of operating two fraudulent foreclosure rescue firms, Home Advocate Trustees and Walk Away Today.

The suspects used websites to reach hundreds of vulnerable homeowners, offering them a chance to save their credit profiles.

The pair promised to acquire and take ownership of the properties, said Christy Romero, Special Inspector General for TARP.

But after taking the homes, the defendants rented them out and never actually acquired the mortgage.

When the homes eventually fell into foreclosure, the pair filed fraudulent Home Affordable Modification Program applications to halt the proceedings.

The idea was to promise homeowners a chance to save their credit profiles when, in fact, all they wanted was short-term cash flow from renters. 

The companies they operated went by several different names – First Equity Trustees, Home Security Consultants, Sell Fast USA, Short Sale Buyer, USA Sell House and USA Rental Housing.