FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 5, 2010
LOS ANGELES MEN SENTENCED FOR FILING FALSE CLAIMS IN KANSAS BANKRUPTCY COURTS
TOPEKA, KAN. – Two Los Angeles men have been sentenced for running a scam in which homeowners who were behind on their mortgage payments paid them to hold off foreclosure by filing fraudulent bankruptcy petitions.
U.S. Attorney Lanny Welch announced today that Isaac Yass, 43, a citizen of Israel who has been living in Los Angeles, Calif., and Andrew Blechman, 40, Culver City, Calif., were sentenced on January 4, 2010, in United States District Court, Topeka, Kansas. Yass was sentenced to 60 months and Blechman was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison. A forfeiture order in the amount of $1,063,176.30 was entered against Yass and Blechman, jointly and severally. Yass remains in custody. Blechman is allowed to self-surrender to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
A federal jury convicted Yass and Blechman on January 16, 2009, of one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and aggravated identity theft, six counts of mail fraud, and six counts of aggravated identity theft.
During the trial, prosecutors presented evidence that Yass and Blechman conspired to operate a fraudulent service called Stopco claiming to be able to save homeowners who where behind on their mortgage payments from losing their homes. Evidence showed that:
– Yass solicited homeowners who were going through foreclosure proceedings. He told them that for a fee he could help them keep their houses.
– Yass and Blechman filed fraudulent bankruptcy petitions in federal bankruptcy courts in Topeka, Wichita, and Kansas City, Kan. The petitions were filed in the name of nonexistent individuals with businesses that claimed to be part-owners of properties that were in foreclosure.
– The result was an automatic stay in the foreclosures, halting any further actions by creditors against the properties.
Yass and Blechman used the U.S. Postal Service to deliver fraudulent petitions to the bankruptcy court. The petitions contained false names and Social Security numbers, and addresses for the creditors that were in fact mailboxes or UPS Store locations in Kansas.
U.S. Attorney Lanny Welch commended the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Social Security-Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Trustees Office, Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Hathaway and Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Kenney for their work on the case.