Nearly three years after they were indicted, four California residents have reportedly been sentenced for their alleged roles in a foreclosure rescue scheme that bilked nearly $5 million from more than 1,000 victims.
Jewel Hinkles, also known as Cydney Sanchez, 64, of Los Angeles was sentenced to five years in prison; Cynthia Corn, 61, of Oakland, Calif., was sentenced to two and a half years in prison; Brent Medearis, 48, of Modesto, Calif., was sentenced to one year and 10 months in prison; and Jesse Wheeler, 37, of Roseville, Calif., was sentenced to three years in prison on Monday in federal district court in California for their alleged roles in the scheme, the Sacramento Bee reports.
As per a U.S. Department of Justice press release, Hinkles ran a company called Horizon Property Holdings, located in Beverly Hills, Calif., that from 2008 to 2010 offered a service called the "Save My Home," or "Homesaver," that promised to rescue financially distressed homeowners from foreclosure and reduce the principal on their mortgages.
Corn, Wheeler and Medearis each ran their own affiliate companies that also promoted and sold the foreclosure relief program to clients, mostly in northern California. These affiliates included Property Relief!, operated by Corn in south San Francisco, and JW Financial Solutions, operated by Wheeler in Roseville. Medearis sold the program out of Modesto as an affiliate of Property Relief!.
The defendants told homeowners that for a substantial upfront payment and a monthly fee, they would save the homeowners' residences from foreclosure by arranging for investors to purchase their existing mortgage at a discounted price or would reduce the homeowners' monthly payment by negotiating a mortgage reduction with the lender. However, contrary to the defendants' representations, they failed to arrange for the purchase of clients' mortgages or to negotiate reductions in the mortgage debt owed by clients.
In order to delay foreclosure and defraud the homeowners and their lenders, the defendants filed fraudulent deeds transferring an interest in the homeowners' property to a fictitious entity called Pacifica Group 49/II. They also frequently filed fraudulent petitions in bankruptcy court, often naming both the homeowner and Pacifica Group 49/II as the debtor, for the purpose of delaying foreclosure.
To enroll in the Save My Home program, clients were required to make an initial payment of approximately $3,500 and to pay monthly fees up to $1,500. The Homesaver program required an initial payment ranging from $1,750 to $6,500 and monthly fees up to $850.