We are continuing our discussion about a criminal case involving a refinancing scheme. The defendant is not from Illinois, but his victims — this time around — were from all over the country. A court recently sentenced him to 33 months in prison for three counts of wire fraud; he must also make restitution to his nine victims. In all, he took more than $300,000 from them and essentially pocketed the money.

The victims thought they were giving him money to arrange for mortgage refinancing. One victim explained that he paid the self-styled adviser $62,000 as a down payment on the refinanced loan. The victim did all the work, he said, only to discover the fraud when he received word that his loan had been funded — at 100 percent. The $62,000 had never made it to the lender. After that, the adviser cut off all contact.

In some cases, the scams lasted for months; in others, they lasted for years. The $62,000 payment would be a lot of money to most families, let alone families who are strapped for cash. That was money they could have used to pay bills. As the fraudster failed to deliver any results for weeks upon weeks, the victims were also making the mortgage payments they could not afford in the first place — if they were making mortgage payments at all. Several victims declared personal bankruptcy.

What is frustrating about this particular case is that the fraudster had already spent 14 months in prison for a similar scheme a few years ago. He was still on supervised release when he started scamming people this time around.

The good news is that last time he repaid his victims in full. Let’s hope for a similar outcome this time.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “St. Louis County man who preyed on struggling borrowers is sentenced,” Robert Patrick, July 1, 2014