NEW YORK: An Indian is among three men arrested here and charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud for tricking distressed homeowners to sell their homes and reaping millions of dollars through the scheme.
Rajesh Maddiwar, Mario Alvarenga and Amir Meiri were presented in Manhattan federal court before US Magistrate Judge Kevin Fox on Thursday.
The three were each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a maximum term of 20 years in prison.
Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara said, “In what is alleged to be a brazen fraud, these defendants manipulated and took advantage of vulnerable people, and in some cases even tricked individuals into losing their homes.”
According to the allegations in the complaint, since 2013 the three men defrauded distressed homeowners throughout the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens neighbourhood.
They falsely represented to these homeowners some of whom were elderly or in poor health that they could assist them with a loan modification or similar relief from foreclosure that would allow the homeowners to save their homes.
Instead, they deceived them into selling their homes to a for-profit real estate company the three were affiliated with.
The three lured victims through the Homeowners Assistance Service of New York (HASNY), which purported to provide assistance to homeowners who were seeking to avoid foreclosure of their homes.
When a homeowner arrived at the HASNY office, he or she met with Mr Alvarenga, who typically advised the homeowner that HASNY could assist him or her with a loan modification.
At the closing, a homeowner who had been led to believe that he or she was about to receive a loan modification or transfer his or her property to a trusted relative was encouraged to sign documents presented by Maddiwar, which in some cases were blank.
The homeowners were however not aware that by signing the documents, they were selling to the defendants the homes they had hoped to save.
Homeowners often were then forced to vacate their homes soon thereafter.