The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office has obtained a preliminary injunction against 15 individuals and companies who allegedly participated in a mortgage fraud and foreclosure rescue scheme. The injunction prevents them from engaging in foreclosure rescue transactions, the office announced this week.
Suffolk Superior Court Judge Allan van Gestel granted the injunction, which was requested by state Attorney General Martha Coakley.
The injunction provides that the individuals and companies must cease to act as mortgage brokers, real estate brokers and closing attorneys relating to foreclosure rescue transactions in Massachusetts, and cannot “transfer assets while the case is pending; except for necessary living expenses and expenses in the ordinary course of business.”
The order also prohibits the alleged participants in the fraud scheme from “transferring, selling, mortgaging or encumbering any of the homes that have been subject to a foreclosure rescue transaction” that they allegedly arranged.
The injunction was ordered against:
- Leo Desire Sr., a salesperson who works on behalf of Primary Mortgage Resource Inc.
- Primary Mortgage Resource Inc., a mortgage brokerage company.
- Valerie Hanserd, a closing attorney.
- Home Pride Management, a company that allegedly took fees for unrendered services.
- Leo Desire Jr., president and treasurer of Home Pride Management.
- Joel Charles, doing business as Sourie Corp.
- Louis R. Joseph; Pierre N. Joseph and his wife Daphne Mompoint; Robens Joseph; Paul A. Joseph; Jean Joseph; Advie Charles; Neville Francis; and Marie Betey Mereus, all property buyers.
Coakley had sought injunctions against four others, too, including: closing lawyers James Alberino and Robert Marks; Universal Plus Realty & Financial Services; and Robin Hayes, sole officer, owner and director of Universal Plus Realty & Financial Services Inc.
The state Attorney General’s Office filed two separate lawsuits on March 30 in Suffolk Superior Court related to the alleged scheme.
“Each of the defendants allegedly conspired through their respective roles to deceive homeowners into selling their homes under the false promise of avoiding foreclosure and maintaining their homes,” according to the announcement.
“The defendants not only obtained the title to the homeowners’ residences but also stripped most of the homes’ equity though inflated mortgages, false fees for fictitious services and false certifications by closing attorneys. In certain cases, the defendants resold the homes amongst themselves, thereby extracting any remaining equity.”
Coakley said in a statement that those who participated in the alleged fraud scheme “preyed on vulnerable homeowners facing foreclosure to deceive them out of their home and their life savings. With the number of foreclosures increasing daily, this type of mortgage fraud is particularly troubling and we will take aggressive action to ensure that this predatory conduct does not continue in Massachusetts.”
Homeowners who were allegedly victimized by the foreclosure rescue scheme include: a Roxbury pastor who lives with his wife and two children; a Natick patent attorney; a Brighton nurse who lives with her teenage son; a Mattapan woman who lives with her two teenage children; a Methuen woman who lives with her four children; and a disabled Dorchester nurse who lives with her husband.
The participants in the scheme allegedly “misled the consumers about the nature of the transactions, defrauded them out of their equity, absconded with the homeowners’ money, and forged homeowners’ signatures on checks payable to homeowners. As a result of the … foreclosure rescue scheme, homeowners were ultimately left destitute, facing foreclosure and eviction,” according to the announcement.
The Attorney General’s Office has sought to prevent the eviction of homeowners allegedly victimized by the scheme, to prevent the sale of properties obtained through the scheme and to prevent the alleged participants from operating as mortgage brokers, real estate brokers and closing lawyers.
Coakley’s office is also seeking restitution for the homeowners, civil penalties and reimbursement for the costs of investigating and litigating the case.
A companion lawsuit alleges that Leo Desire Sr. of Primary Mortgage Resource Inc. and Valerie F. Hanserd altered a deed from Freddie Mac by changing the purchase price of the property from $305,000 to $475,000 and changing the name of the grantee from Leo Desire to the name of an alleged “straw buyer,” Gloria Avila.
“The defendants also provided an inflated appraised value of the real property; thereby obtaining a mortgage loan from a third party, Argent Mortgage Co., in a sum which is greater than the property value supports; they fabricated a HUD Settlement Statement to reflect the fictitious purchase price and fictitious disbursements; and the defendants allegedly shared in the proceeds of the larger mortgage loan,” according to the announcement.
Other consumers who have information about the alleged mortgage fraud ring can contact the attorney general’s Consumer Protection Hotline at (617) 727-8400.