By Elizabeth Jackman
A Glendale man, who allegedly scammed desperate homeowners by claiming he could help them prevent foreclosure, was arrested by Peoria police last week.
Arizona Attorney General (AG) Terry Goddard wants to warn homeowners facing foreclosure to be careful when approached by anyone offering to help with loan modifications.
After receiving complaints from dozens of homeowners, Bobby John Herrera, 33, was indicted Dec. 22 on one count of fraudulent schemes and artifices, one count of money laundering, one count of illegal control of an enterprise and five counts of theft, all felonies.
“The indictment is based on 10 victims, but dozens more have contacted our office,” AG press secretary Anne Hilby said. “This is just the tip of the iceberg.”
The arrest and indictment stemmed from complaints received by three agencies, Surprise police, Peoria police and the AG's office, who worked on the investigation together.
“We first heard several complaints around Dec. 3 and 4, which set off alarm bells and a criminal investigation,” Hilby said.
According to investigators, Herrera solicited struggling homeowners with fraudulent claims he could modify mortgage terms or provide other assistance to help them prevent foreclosure.
He allegedly claimed to have “connections” and expertise negotiating with mortgage lenders to reduce their monthly payments.
In exchange for the services, Herrera charged the homeowners upfront fees of $1,245.
“The sad part is if the individuals had access to the money to give Herrera, with a reputable mortgage lender, they may have been able to get help they needed to get back on their feet,” Hilby said. “He would meet with them in cars and parking lots.”
Goddard said if you are behind on your mortgage payments, it is imperative that you contact your mortgage lender immediately.
“Free counseling services are also available to help consumers work with their lender,” Goddard said. “I urge homeowners to avoid mortgage ‘rescue' businesses that simply take money from them.”
Federal, state and local governments offer numerous free resources for distressed homeowners.
The U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, 800-CALL-FHA (225-5342), www.hud.gov
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