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Bankruptcy attorneys indicted on mortgage fraud charges

Chicago-area residents facing foreclosure convinced to declare bankruptcy

A crackdown on bankruptcy fraud has resulted in federal charges against 12 people in the Chicago area, several for their alleged role in mortgage fraud schemes in which homeowners facing foreclosure were convinced to sign over title of their homes and declare bankruptcy. The cases are part of Operation Truth or Consequences, in which U.S. Justice Department officials announced bankruptcy fraud-related charges against 78 defendants in three dozen judicial districts nationwide. In Chicago, bankruptcy attorneys Norton Helton, Edward Varga and Lori Westerfield allegedly engaged in separate schemes in which clients facing foreclosure were "swindled out of the equity in their homes," the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Illinois said in a press release. Varga, 47, of Aurora, Ill., was charged in an eight-count indictment with bankruptcy fraud, mail fraud, and falsifying documents in bankruptcy cases. The indictment alleges that Varga and Charlotte M. Schuett, 46, convin...

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