Four Texans are accused of fraud in a federal indictment that alleges that they scammed at least 70 distressed homeowners with false promises of a new loan.
The four defendants — Mark Demetri Stein, 36, of Carrollton, Richard Bruce Stevens, 51, of San Antonio, Bruce Kevin Hawkins, 52, of Desoto, and Christina Renee Caveny, 37, of Dallas — each face charges of one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and five counts of mail fraud, a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
The indictment alleges that between February 2012 and January 2013, the defendants recruited vulnerable homeowners who were facing the imminent threat of foreclosure on their homes and fraudulently collected more than $242,000 from them. The accused used third parties to contact homeowners who offered them an opportunity to get out of their present home loans and receive a new home loan with a reduced interest payment and reduced monthly payment.
The conspirators told homeowners they would use investors to purchase the homeowner’s loan from the original lender at a greatly reduced price through a short sale process, the indictment alleged.
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As part of the scheme, the conspirators required homeowners to start making all future loan payments to them and to ignore late payment notices sent by lenders. The conspirators also conducted fake closings for each homeowner where they caused the homeowner to pay them a large down payment on the new loan, the release said.
The defendants then told the homeowners that they could sell their property back to the homeowner with another new loan, even though the conspirators knew they did not legally own the property, according to the release.
The accused told homeowners to ignore notices of nonpayment from their present lender as they continued to unlawfully collect monthly mortgage payments and instructed several homeowners to file for bankruptcy and not follow up with the bankruptcy process to delay foreclosure and conceal the criminal conduct by the defendants, the release said.
Each count in the indictment carries a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. Restitution could also be ordered.