A Las Vegas man pleaded guilty this week to operating a foreclosure rescue scam that defrauded distressed homeowners who were struggling to pay their mortgages, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
Alex P. Soria, 65, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Lloyd D. George in the District of Nevada to one count of wire fraud and one count of theft of government funds in connection with a scheme to defraud homeowners who were behind on their mortgages.
According to court documents, Soria identified homeowners whose mortgage debt exceeded the value of their homes and charged them a fee purportedly to reduce the principal balance of their mortgages using money from the Department of the Treasury’s Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Soria admitted in court that he lied to homeowners about his affiliation with several mortgage lenders and that he provided victims with fraudulent letters stating they had been approved for loans. Soria also admitted he falsely told victims that his loan program had been successful in the past and charged homeowners for loan modifications he knew he could not deliver. Court documents show that Soria concealed from homeowners the fact that the state of Nevada had issued a cease and desist order which legally prohibited him from working in the mortgage industry. Soria collected more than $100,000 in fees from distressed homeowners, many of whom lost their homes to foreclosure after Soria failed to deliver the loan modifications he promised.
As part of the same case, Soria also pleaded guilty to continuing to collect Social Security Disability Insurance benefits while at the same time receiving income from his foreclosure rescue operation. The Social Security Disability Insurance program is a federal program that replaces the wages of individuals who become unable to work due to a disability. Soria admitted to collecting more than $200,000 in disability benefits from 1990 to 2010 while at the same time receiving income that he concealed from the Social Security Administration.
This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Brian R. Young and Mary Ann McCarthy of the Justice Department Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. The case was investigated by the Offices of Inspector General for the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Social Security Administration. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Nevada assisted with the investigation and prosecution of this case.
This prosecution is part of efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. Attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.