The Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP) and California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris have announced the arrests of three real estate agents in Stockton, Calif., who are accused of running a loan modification scam.
Magdalena Salas, Angelina Mireles and Julissa Garcia have been arrested on 13 felony and two misdemeanor counts, including conspiracy, grand theft and false advertising. They are being held at the San Joaquin County Jail on $100,000 bail, according to a statement released by SIGTARP.
Salas, owner of Legacy Home Loans and Real Estate, Mireles, her twin sister, and Garcia took up-front fees of up to $5,000 from dozens of Central Valley homeowners for loan modification services under the "Obama Plan" that were never performed. Officials say that between November 2009 and August 2011, Salas and her employees circulated flyers throughout Stockton that read, in both English and Spanish, "We will save your home! Guaranteed!" and "Guaranteed new lower mortgage payments!"
Legacy Home Loans additionally ran television and radio advertisements in English and Spanish and broadcast its services on a billboard.
The announcement of the arrests comes as SIGTARP cracks down further on loan modification scams. Along with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the U.S. Treasury Department, SIGTARP last week announced the formation of a joint task force whose sole purpose is to combat scams that target homeowners seeking relief under the Home Affordable Modification Program.
Last month, SIGTARP also widened its probe into scams that advertise on online search engines, prompting Bing, Yahoo! and Google to suspend hundreds of their advertising relationships.