Quick Loan Funding And Daniel Sadek Emerge As “Pirate Swashbucklers” Of Subprime Mortgage Reign Of Deceptive Mortgage Lending; CitiGroup Provided Much Of The Support For His Pillaging

3 01 2009

Quick Loan Funding, which Sadek founded in 2002, wrote about $4 billion in subprime mortgages before it collapsed in 2007. Sadek made, and eventually lost, a fortune through Quick Loan. He bought a Newport Coast mansion, a fleet of exotic cars and a condo in Las Vegas where he became a high roller at the blackjack tables.

Mark Goldman, a lecturer in real estate at San Diego State University, said lenders have nothing to gain by giving a break to borrowers who probably won’t repay their loans.

“It doesn’t serve the lender to do a loan modification that’ll result in a default,” he said. Which raises the question: Why did Citi give Sadek more time?

 

http://www.ocregister.com/articles/sadek-citi-loan-2270290-billion-quick

Daniel Sadek was one of the princes of subprime lending in Orange County whose high-risk mortgages helped bring Wall Street to its knees.

This summer, Citigroup, the Wall Street bank that has received this year’s biggest federal bailout, offered to modify its loan terms and help Sadek keep a home after he fell two months behind on his mortgage.

But on Dec. 18, Citi Residential Lending filed a notice of default after Sadek failed to make the new payments on the house at 65 Briar Lane in Irvine, one of at least four residential properties he owns in Orange County

That Sadek even got a second chance with Citi angered industry watchers who complain that banks have done too little, even with billions in federal assistance, to help borrowers facing foreclosure.

“There’s a big irony, when thousands of people are struggling to get affordable loan modification offers from servicers that aren’t responsive, that someone who has perpetrated harm would get a loan modification,” said Paul Leonard, of the Center for Responsible Lending. “It’s incredible.”

Reached by phone, Sadek said he “did not want to be rude,” but he did not want to talk. His attorney, Thomas Borchard, said he was unaware of the Citi loan modification.

“I know he and Quick Loan Funding have a long-standing history with Citi,” Borchard said. “I’d assure you there’s some logical explanation.”

The original mortgage isued by Sadek’s Quick Loan Funding in August 2006, was for $768,000. Under Citi’s loan modification, the principal rose to $800,000, records show. Zillow.com estimates the home is worth $632,500.

The original mortgage was an interest-only loan. Under the Citi loan modification, Sadek’s monthly payments increased almost 50 percent to $6,445 – the interest, principal, taxes and insurance on an $800,000 mortgage.

The latest notice of default said Sadek owed $34,888 as of Dec. 18, indicating he had not made a single payment since the loan modification. The notice says Sadek still has 90 days to catch up with his payments before he will lose the house.

The record is unclear how Citi got authority to modify Sadek’s original mortgage. Citi declined to discuss Sadek’s loan, citing client privacy rights.

Sadek’s original loan – No. 106087598 – was not part of the three Citi mortgage pools. Bank of America, Bear Stearns, Countrywide Home Loans, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley also securitized and sold Quick Loan mortgages.

Filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission show at least $2.3 billion of Quick Loan’s $4 billion mortgages were sold to investors after Wall Street firms packaged them as mortgage-backed securities, collateralized debt obligations and other complex financial instruments.

“In some cases, Citi purchases loans which may have been modified by another servicer,” Rodgers said. “If a loan is owned by an investor, the right to modify is subject to the agreement under which the loan is serviced.”

On the Citi loan modification, Sadek said 65 Briar Lane is “owner occupied” and that he “will suffer a hardship” if the terms of the loan are increased too much.

Other public records list his home address as 3 Longboat in Newport Coast, where Sadek was interviewed by the Register in April 2007. Borchard said he could not comment on the address discrepancy. Rodgers said borrowers can demonstrate their residence by producing a utility bill.

When a Register reporter visited the Briar Lane house, a woman living there said Sadek was “not here.” But she would not say if he lived there.

Lou Pacific, a real estate and mortgage consultant from Mission Viejo who was a vice president at Quick Loan Funding in 2004 and 2005, said he was surprised by the Citi loan modification, given Sadek’s financial resources and multiple residences.

“The usual way you qualify for a loan mod is if you live in the home and you have a valid hardship,” Pacific said.

Court judgments

Most borrowers would have a hard time getting a hearing from a bank if they were already in default on a million dollars in other debts.

Records on file with the Orange County Clerk-Recorder show that Sadek faces $1.5 million in debts, including:

•State Franchise Tax Board liens totaling $545,922 in taxes and penalties.

•Orange County tax collector liens totaling $8,998.

•Liens from the Newport Coast homeowners association, for $1,588, and The Marquee Park Place Homeowners Association in Irvine, for $7,517, both for monthly association fees.

•Court judgments from Wells Fargo Bank, for failure to make payments on leased

equipment ($603,289) and Wells Fargo ($294,341) for other debts.

No effort to hide

Wells Fargo has placed writs of attachments on Sadek’s Newport Coast home, an undeveloped Newport Coast lot, his condo in Irvine and 65 Briar Lane.

Dennis Fabrozzi, an attorney for Wells Fargo, said such writs would normally be a red flag for banks considering a loan modification. “I would think most banks would pull a preliminary title report,” Fabrozzi said. “Most of the information is online. It’s easy to pull. You could probably do it in about five minutes.”

Borchard said Sadek intends to make good on his debts.

“Mr. Sadek has not filed for bankruptcy. He has not made efforts to conceal, hide or transfer his assets,” he said. “For him, every day is another day of looking to try to resurrect a business interest to repay creditors,” Borchard said.

Sadek’s other troubles were documented before the Citi bailout.

In May 2007, The Orange County Register reported that Sadek took out a $1 million marker from the account of his escrow company, Platinum Escrow, to gamble in Las Vegas.

In June of this year, the state Department of Corporations revoked all of Sadek’s lending and escrow licenses for his failure to safeguard the money and records.

On Dec. 17, the Department of Corporations banned Sadek from the escrow industry for a year and seized accounts totaling $515,000.

Sadek and Citi

Citi’s business dealings with Sadek date to the founding of Quick Loan Funding in 2002.

Citi’s subsidiary, First Collateral Services, gave Sadek a line of credit – known as a warehouse line – to fund his mortgages. As Quick Loan grew – issuing a peak $218 million worth of mortgages in December 2005 – other warehouse lenders gave the company lines of credit. At its peak, the Citi warehouse line was $100 million, Pacific said.

When Quick Loan’s collapse accelerated in the spring of 2007, Citi was the last warehouse lender left, Sadek said during an April 2007 interview at his Newport Coast mansion.

During the interview, Sadek said Citigroup provided a $16 million line of credit to help him market his feature film, “Redline,” which starred his then-girlfriend, Nadia Bjorlin, and his fleet of Ferraris, Porsches and Saleen S7 exotic cars. Sadek said he spent $31 million to make, distribute and publicize “Redline.”

The film earned $8.2 million in ticket sales worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo. Sadek is being sued in federal court by the Cartoon Network for failing to pay $845,000 in advertising for the film.

 

 

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Mortgage Brokers And Mortgage Bankers Pushed Subprime Loans To Borrowers Because There Was No Risk To Lenders As Loans Were Sliced Up And Sold Off Quickly

26 12 2008

Subprime depended basically on brokers who did not care whether the borrower could pay his loan because they got paid their commission at closing, on banks that also did not care much whether the borrower could pay since the loan was being sold off, on packagers of loans who cut and sliced the packages of loans so that some could be called AAA rated loans (generally called CMO’s).

http://seekingalpha.com/article/112297-was-subprime-lending-just-as-dishonest-as-madoff?source=email

 

 

Subprime is a specific type of transaction more generally called CMO’s (Collateralized Mortgage Obligations) and CDS (Credit Default Swaps). Subprime depended basically on brokers who did not care whether the borrower could pay his loan because they got paid their commission at closing, on banks that also did not care much whether the borrower could pay since the loan was being sold off, on packagers of loans who cut and sliced the packages of loans so that some could be called AAA rated loans (generally called CMO’s). They paid credit rating companies to put triple A ratings which could not possibly be justified with any analysis of the underlying package of loans. Finally, they paid credit insurance companies to give guarantees (Credit Default Swaps) that they would cover any default when the credit insurance companies did not have the financial ability to pay if called on to pay. To make it even better, everyone seems to have had the idea that real estate prices would always go up. Finally, we even had President Bush saying all this was good because we were increasing housing without looking at the inevitable results.

 

1.     Financial Results: There was never a history of the returns. Financial institutions and their sales representatives told everyone that this was an exceptional investment. They talked about a piece of paper that is “triple A rated “and “guaranteed by insurance through Credit Default Swaps.” While Madoff peddled dishonest results, here banks peddled a dishonest idea without any results.

2.     Public Explanation of the process: Salesmen only explained these were triple AAA rated investments “structured so that they could not fail.” Furthermore, there was an insurance guarantee just in case. When it all fell apart, we naturally got the obvious truth that the so called protection never existed in reality. When the problem was obvious, Merrill Lynch (MER) sold these triple A rated bonds with insurance guarantees for 22 cents on the dollar and most people said the real value for Merrill was only 5 cents on the dollar. Madoff’s explanation was no phonier than the banks explanation of the value of Subprime triple A rated with CDS guarantees.

3.     What kept the fraud going? While Madoff had to pay out early investors, this fraud did not even depend on really paying investors off. The only ones who really collected on this were the bankers who earned bonuses or a percent of the profits (which can be 40% of the transactions’ profits) when these subprime loan packages were sold. The finance community had never made so much money on an idea like this. Who was going to say that it would not work? Here is a clear case that the personal greed of the bankers led to their own demise and that of their investors. Probably anyone that wanted to cut back on the system was probably told to shut up. As a former banker, I know the pressures put on people. “X bank is making all that money. What is wrong with you?” If you try to say it is a bad idea, most people get run over by the system. Years ago, former Fed Chairman Greenspan said that he trusted the bankers to protect their own interests. He recently said in congress that he made a terrible mistake in this assumption. And in this simple mistaken assumption, we see a root cause of the problem.

4.     Professional Opinion: The personal interest of bankers led them to tell all their investors that this is a splendid investment. In this case, the professional bankers did a 20 times greater disservice to themselves and their customers than all of the Madoff salesmen.

 

 

 

 





Mortgage Broker Ran Mortgage Fraud Ring In New York And Florida

7 12 2008

Valdes brokered at least 100 of those loans worth $22 million — nearly all based on false and misleading financial information, the newspaper found.

http://www.miamiherald.com/457/story/802703.html

Orson Benn, once a vice president at the nation’s largest subprime lender, spent three years during the height of the housing boom tutoring Florida mortgage brokers in the art of fraud.

From his office in New York, he taught them how to doctor credit reports, coached them to inflate income on loan applications, and helped them invent phantom jobs for borrowers.

When trouble arose — one broker got caught, another got cold feet — Benn called his trusted fixer in Miami to remove the problem and get the loan approved: Yvette Valdes.

The 48-year-old Valdes was a key figure in helping Benn tap into one of the country’s most lucrative mortgage markets during his run with Argent Mortgage, The Miami Herald found.

Benn and several associates were convicted of racketeering this year, but Valdes still sells mortgages from a nondescript storefront in Homestead.

While prosecutors looked at roughly $100 million in loans written by Benn and a cadre of co-workers, that represents just a portion of the loans they approved during his aggressive expansion into Florida.

The Miami Herald found that Benn’s network approved more than $550 million in home loans from Tampa to West Palm Beach to Miami, according to an analysis of court records.

In Miami-Dade County alone, Benn’s office approved more than $349 million in loans on 1,913 homes — more than one in three have since fallen into foreclosure, the analysis shows.

Valdes brokered at least 100 of those loans worth $22 million — nearly all based on false and misleading financial information, the newspaper found.

One borrower claimed to work for a company that didn’t exist — and got a $170,000 loan. Another borrower claimed to work a job that didn’t exist — and got enough money to buy four houses.

In a brief interview with The Miami Herald, Valdes blamed the borrowers, refusing to comment further. Her lawyer, Glenn Kritzer, said she has done nothing illegal.

With so many of Benn’s loans now in foreclosure, Miami-Dade County is littered with still more empty homes. Squatters inhabit some; crack dens occupy others. At least one has been stripped to the ground, leaving only the foundation.

”It’s like a desert,” said Reynaldo Perez, 41, who lives in a Homestead town house financed by Benn three years ago. “Just on my street, there are five or six homes being foreclosed.”

Although the Office of Financial Regulation — the state agency entrusted with policing the mortgage industry — was alerted to Valdes’s role in Benn’s network at least three years ago, it never launched an investigation, the newspaper found.

Since 2005, the agency has had copies of some of the same misleading loan applications that The Miami Herald reviewed.

Terry Straub, the OFR’s director of finance, acknowledged that his agency had evidence against Valdez. ”I don’t have any explanation for why we didn’t pursue it,” he said.

In fact, state regulators ignored more than a dozen written warnings about brokers in Benn’s network, the agency’s records show.

Despite a law banning criminals from getting licensed — created after a Miami Herald series was published this summer — two brokers in Benn’s network who pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy charges in the case remain licensed.





Claim That Subprime Loans Expanded Homeownership A “Fraud” As They Were Designed to “Fail”

24 11 2008

“…Carr, of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, said that in hindsight the claim that subprime loans expanded homeownership was “a fraud.” Subprime loans, with their low teaser rates and expensive prepayment penalties, were “designed to fail.”

“…(in) Orange County, where subprime lending giants New Century, Fremont, Option One and Argent all were based. Subprime accounted for less than 10 percent of all home loans made in the county between 2004 and 2007. But in central Santa Ana – today the county’s foreclosure hotspot – the subprime share topped 40 percent…”

http://www.ocregister.com/articles/subprime-percent-home-2233845-lending-loans

For a few delirious years, subprime mortgages brought fat profits to Orange County lenders – plus Mercedes, Beemers and the occasional Lamborghini for their salespeople.

Subprime loans left a more lasting impact elsewhere, in places like Fresno and Moreno Valley, Florida and Michigan – areas now suffering from massive foreclosures.

A Register analysis shows that subprime loans were concentrated in the less prosperous, less stable corners of the nation. The Register studied 43 million prime and 12 million subprime loans made between 2004 and 2007.

The analysis shows how subprime loans evolved from a niche product, largely confined to Texas and the Deep South, into a nationwide phenomenon. But even as subprime went national, it played a much bigger role in some housing markets than in others. (Click here to see maps of both California and U.S. from 2004-2007).

Consider two cities: During the height of the bull market, residents of New York City got just 3 percent of their home loan money from subprime mortgages. In hard-pressed Detroit the figure was 31 percent.

Now look home, to Orange County, where subprime lending giants New Century, Fremont, Option One and Argent all were based. Subprime accounted for less than 10 percent of all home loans made in the county between 2004 and 2007. But in central Santa Ana – today the county’s foreclosure hotspot – the subprime share topped 40 percent.

A series of maps shows subprime lending spreading year by year from the South to California to the Midwest and Northeast.

The maps are “like you’re looking at X-rays of a cancer patient,” said Jim Carr, chief operating officer of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, a nonprofit that promotes lending to low-income areas. “(2004) and ’05 is when it went viral.”

Subprime lending mushroomed from less than 10 percent of national home loan volume in 2004 to 20 percent in 2005 and 24 percent in 2006. In 2007 as major lenders failed, subprime fell to 15 percent of national home loan volume.

Subprime’s sudden collapse gave counties that depended on subprime loans a bitter foretaste of the credit crunch. While total home loan volume dropped 21 percent nationwide in 2007, it slumped by 43 percent in Riverside and San Bernardino counties. The crunch was even sharper in parts of the San Joaquin Valley: Home lending dropped 50 percent in San Joaquin and 55 percent in Merced.

Easy credit helped the valley prosper in the first half of the decade. Its urban centers grew twice as fast as the state did. Cotton fields and vineyards gave way to new homes from Bakersfield north to Stockton.

“The subprime lending practices definitely lent fuel to the economy,” said John Mahoney, director of the Real Estate & Land Use Institute at Cal State Fresno. “That single element alone is what expanded this market to unsustainable levels.”

Mahoney has studied the new home market in Fresno for years. Between 2004 and 2006, he said, the number of new housing units produced each year doubled. The median price also doubled.

Easy money was “the primary component that fueled the overbuilding, the overpricing,” Mahoney said. It was “a marketing cycle that fed on itself.”

It couldn’t last. In 2007 home lending volume in Fresno County slumped 37 percent, builders stopped building and the first foreclosure signs appeared.

Mark Boud, an Irvine real estate economist, has studied the valley market. Between February and August, he said, there were 4,133 foreclosures in Fresno and neighboring Madera County – four times more than in the same period in 2007 and 30 times the 2006 number.

Subprime is a big factor in foreclosures, Boud said. He blamed “loose lending standards,” particularly in the new-home market, for the surge in foreclosures.

Carr, of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, said that in hindsight the claim that subprime loans expanded homeownership was “a fraud.” Subprime loans, with their low teaser rates and expensive prepayment penalties, were “designed to fail.”

Carr looks at the maps showing the spread of subprime year by year and sees a lost chance for regulators.

“As late as 2004 we could have prevented this foreclosure crisis,” Carr said. “They had an oportunity to tighten down on financial institutions whose lending behavior was clear as early as 2002-2003. It was a missed opportunity to get this problem under control.”





Senator Christopher Dodd (Connecticut) Received “Special Treatment” From Mortgage Industry He Now Aims To Reform

20 11 2008

“…Dodd gallops the gamut from calling the allegations of special treatment “outrageous” to pledging repeatedly and specifically to release documents related to the $800,000 in sweetheart deals he got from Countrywide…”

“…Dodd, however, signed some but not all of his loan documents himself. Agents of Countrywide signed his $275,042 Connecticut mortgage. His previous mortgage with Countrywide was paid off but the new mortgage did not appear on the local land records for an astonishing 16 months. For nearly a year and a half, Countrywide failed (or declined) to secure its interest in Dodd’s home by taking the ordinary and essential step of presenting the documents to the local town clerk and recording them in the land records….”

“…Dodd refuses to say whether his Senate campaign committee’s payments of $60,000 last summer to a Washington law firm, which has a history of representing Democratic senators in trouble, were for his defense in the Senate ethics investigation of his dealings with Countrywide…”

http://www.courant.com/news/opinion/editorials/hc-rennie1109.artnov09,0,7916474,print.column 

As the Democrats moved toward victory at the end of October, a story by NBC’s Lisa Myers set Dodd apart from his triumphant fellow Democrats. Myers reported that federal agents are investigating the notorious “Friends of Angelo” list maintained by subprime mortgage giant Countrywide Financial’s co-founder Angelo Mozilo. Dodd was the most prominent member of that exclusive club.

Since the Dodd story broke in June, the five-term senator has offered contradictory fragments of explanations and intentions. Scheherazade after a six-pack of Red Bull would not have told more desperate tales. Dodd gallops the gamut from calling the allegations of special treatment “outrageous” to pledging repeatedly and specifically to release documents related to the $800,000 in sweetheart deals he got from Countrywide.

Still claiming “there’s nothing there,” Dodd refuses to say whether his Senate campaign committee’s payments of $60,000 last summer to a Washington law firm, which has a history of representing Democratic senators in trouble, were for his defense in the Senate ethics investigation of his dealings with Countrywide. He suggested, before he fled to his third home in Ireland in August, that Countrywide was not cooperating in providing information.

Dodd still claims there was nothing unusual about the $800,000 in mortgages he got from Countrywide in 2003, but records refute that, too. Documents indicate that Dodd was getting a mortgage of $276,150 on his second home in Connecticut on July 3, 2003. The amount was reduced to $275,042 and the mortgage he was refinancing was paid off.

Dodd and his wife also got a home equity loan on their Connecticut property in East Haddam from Countrywide that day. But the course those loans took was very strange. The standard routine is for the homeowner to sign the loan documents, the borrowed money is sent to the lender being paid off and the new mortgage is recorded on local land records within a few days.

Dodd, however, signed some but not all of his loan documents himself. Agents of Countrywide signed his $275,042 Connecticut mortgage. His previous mortgage with Countrywide was paid off but the new mortgage did not appear on the local land records for an astonishing 16 months. For nearly a year and a half, Countrywide failed (or declined) to secure its interest in Dodd’s home by taking the ordinary and essential step of presenting the documents to the local town clerk and recording them in the land records.

This is exceedingly rare in the mortgage business. No wonder Dodd refuses to lift the veil on his deals with the generous lender that went bust this year.

Last month, amid tumbling approval ratings, renewed questions and scorching editorials in The Wall Street Journal and the usually friendly New York Times, Dodd unveiled a new tablet of nonsense. He announced that for the previous five months he’d really meant to say that he wouldn’t release any documents until the Senate Ethics Committee completes its investigation. The senator is terribly disappointed that the investigation has taken this long. He left out that nothing in the committee’s rules precludes him from releasing the documents to the public.

A July statement from the committee, however, may explain why it hasn’t confirmed Dodd’s contention that there’s “nothing there.” It announced: “Absent special circumstances, it has been the long-standing policy of the committee to defer investigation into matters where there is an active and ongoing criminal investigation and proceeding so as not to interfere in that process.” Clever Lisa Myers’ story of federal law enforcement’s investigation of the “Friends of Angelo” may explain the delay.

This is not the sort of story jubilant Democrats want unraveling around one of their prominent senators. It interrupts the narrative of changing the world. Dodd may learn that President-elect Barack Obama’s righteous wind, having dispatched so many Republicans, can cut down a Democrat who is not so nimble in explaining himself.





“Mortgage Fraud”: Husband And Wife Are “Bonnie and Clyde” Of Mortgage Fraud In Las Vegas

19 11 2008

  “…Mazzarella and Grimm were the Bonnie and Clyde of mortgage fraud — among the greediest of a band of swindlers who took advantage of lax lending standards at profit- hungry banks, which stopped verifying income and assets for even questionable borrowers…”

“…They told the straw buyers they would pay the mortgages. Then they skimmed thousands of dollars from each of more than 432 transactions, the indictment says, stashing the cash in 80 bank accounts…”

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/marketsmag/mm_1208_trim2.html

Eve Mazzarella was a Las Vegas success story. The high-school dropout and former housemaid moved to the Nevada city in 2000 from Seattle, got a certificate from the ABC Real Estate School and started selling houses in what would become the hottest market in the country.

In 2006, Mazzarella recorded sales of $13.8 million and made the National Association of Realtors’ “30 Under 30” list, which names the best young agents in the nation. Mazzarella started her own company, Distinctive Real Estate & Investments Inc., in December 2003. She whipped around town in a Mercedes-Benz sport utility vehicle. She planned to build a three-story office building in Vegas’s shabby downtown north of the Strip and preserve a historic house on the site by lifting it onto the roof.

Her competitors were impressed. “She was an up and comer with a brilliant future,” says Forrest Barbee, a broker at Prudential Americana Group, a Las Vegas agency where Mazzarella once worked.

The dream ended at about 5 a.m. on March 13, when federal agents smashed through the door of a stucco home on a quiet, grassy cul-de-sac looking for Mazzarella, 31, and her husband, Steven Grimm, 45, an erstwhile mortgage broker.

The day before, the U.S. Attorney for Nevada had indicted the couple on 6 counts of bank fraud, later revised to 13. Prosecutors say the pair recruited fake — or “straw” — buyers to apply for loans to purchase 227 properties worth $107 million. They told the straw buyers they would pay the mortgages. Then they skimmed thousands of dollars from each of more than 432 transactions, the indictment says, stashing the cash in 80 bank accounts.

Bonnie and Clyde

They allegedly arranged fake sales on some houses five times. Then, according to the indictment, they walked away from the mortgages, leaving lenders in the lurch.

If prosecutors are right, Mazzarella and Grimm were the Bonnie and Clyde of mortgage fraud — among the greediest of a band of swindlers who took advantage of lax lending standards at profit- hungry banks, which stopped verifying income and assets for even questionable borrowers. Buyers who gave false information to mortgage lenders are technically guilty of fraud themselves. Yet authorities are mostly targeting schemes such as the one allegedly perpetrated by Mazzarella and Grimm.

What happened in Vegas didn’t stay in Vegas. Similar schemes across the country helped pump up a housing bubble whose rupture has triggered a global banking crisis, prompted government intervention not seen since the Depression and helped precipitate what economists predict will be a long and painful recession.

Plea: Not Guilty

Mazzarella and Grimm have pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and bank fraud in Nevada federal court in Las Vegas. They couldn’t be reached for comment on this story. Mazzarella’s attorney declined to comment; Grimm’s didn’t return phone calls.

Mazzarella’s father, a real estate lawyer in San Diego, says his daughter is innocent. “She was putting money in Las Vegas real estate like everyone else,” Mark Mazzarella says. “The targets are going to be higher up the food chain.”

Mazzarella and Grimm’s alleged scheme was just one of many in Las Vegas, where, throughout much of this decade, people wagered on houses like they were numbers on a roulette wheel. The advent of no-document “liar loans” fueled the frenzy, as maids, parking attendants and casino workers borrowed big to roll the dice on subdivisions rising amid the mesquite.

Like the city’s replicas of Venice’s canals and New York’s skyline, Las Vegas real estate became a caricature, rising faster and booming bigger than in the rest of the nation.





Beware New Fraud From “Foreclosure Consultants” Who Collect Fees Illegally And Don’t Perform

19 11 2008

“…the seven companies collected upfront fees and then failed to negotiate or perform any services on behalf of the homeowners, leaving them at risk of losing their homes…”

“…the company promised a “money-back guarentee (sic)” on its web site and that it has a 97 percent success rate and a “combined 25 years of real estate, financial and lending experience.” By this evening it had removed the misspelled “guarentee.”

http://www.rrstar.com/news/x1720658976/Attorney-general-sues-Rockford-company-for-mortgage-fraud 

A mortgage-rescue company with a Rockford office was one of seven sued by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan today.

Madigan’s office filed the lawsuit in Winnebago County Circuit Court against StopMyForeclosure.net, which appears to have a location on the 3900 block of Abbotsford Road, for violating the state’s Illinois Mortgage Rescue Fraud Act. The act prohibits companies from requiring payment from consumers before completing all terms of a rescue contract.

Madigan claims the seven companies collected upfront fees and then failed to negotiate or perform any services on behalf of the homeowners, leaving them at risk of losing their homes.

A record wave of foreclosures locally and nationally have pushed the economy to the brink of recession. As foreclosure actions have increased, so have the number of companies promising help to homeowners behind on payments.

Madigan has sued 22 companies, including those sued today, so far this year for violating the state mortgage rescue fraud act.

“There are so many of these companies, and most have no idea that the state has a law that restricts what they do,” said Bob Campbell, executive director of the Rockford Affordable Housing Coalition, a U.S. Housing and Urban Development-certified housing-assistance organization. “Since they don’t know that the law is in place, most of these for-profit companies end up violating the law.”

Early today, the company promised a “money-back guarentee (sic)” on its web site and that it has a 97 percent success rate and a “combined 25 years of real estate, financial and lending experience.” By this evening it had removed the misspelled “guarentee.”

The site also displays two seals of approval by the Better Business Bureau.

Dennis Horton, executive director of the Rockford office of the Better Business Bureau, said he believed both BBB symbols are pirated.

“This company is not registered with the BBB anywhere in the United States,” Horton said.

Rhonda Poshka, who said she is owner of the Queen Oak, Ariz.-based company, said the company is registered with the Arizona Better Business Bureau but not accredited.