Federal Charges Filed Against Las Vegas Man for Defrauding Distressed Homeowners
Reno, Nev. – A Las Vegas man has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges that he defrauded distressed homeowners in Las Vegas who were attempting to refinance or adjust their home mortgages, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Department of Justice Criminal Division and Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.
Alex P. Soria, 64, of Las Vegas, was indicted on Wednesday, April 20, 2011, and charged with six counts of wire fraud, three counts of mail fraud, one count of concealment of information from the Social Security Administration and one count of theft of government funds. Soria was arrested this morning in Las Vegas, and is scheduled to make an initial appearance before a federal magistrate judge at 3:00 p.m. today.
According to the indictment, Soria had worked in the mortgage lending industry since about 1970. From about May 2008 to January 2010, Soria allegedly devised a scheme to defraud distressed homeowners who were trying to refinance or adjust their home mortgages. Soria solicited the homeowners through advertisements and word of mouth to hire him as a mortgage agent to assist them with their mortgages. Soria allegedly falsely told the homeowners he was a loan officer with Amwest Capital and that he could help them obtain relief with their mortgages through two federal programs, Hope for Homeowners and the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Soria also falsely told the homeowners that he had helped other homeowners obtain financing. In truth, Soria's Nevada mortgage agent license had expired in April 2008 and he lacked licensing or status to help the homeowners obtain financing through the federal programs.
In order to make the homeowners think they were going to receive assistance with their home mortgages, the indictment also alleges that Soria provided false information to the homeowners, such as letters stating they had prequalified for refinancing and emails stating they were on track to receive help or that the government was to blame for loans not closing. In fact, Soria did not obtain government assistance for any of the victims identified in the indictment, even though he fraudulently collected approximately $17,000 from 15 homeowners through the alleged scheme.
Soria is also charged with unlawfully collecting Social Security disability benefits for about 20 years, from January 1990 to December 2010, when he was actually working in and profiting from the mortgage industry.
If convicted, Soria faces up to 20 years in prison for each fraud count, up to five years in prison on the concealment count, up to 10 years in prison on the theft count, and a fine of up to $250,000 on each count.
The case was investigated by the Office of the Inspector General for U.S. Housing and Urban Development and the Office of the Inspector General for the Social Security Administration. It is being prosecuted by Brian R. Young, Trial Attorney with the Fraud Section of the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice.
Persons who have information concerning potential mortgage fraud in Nevada may contact the Southern Nevada Mortgage Fraud Hotline at (702) 584-5555.
An indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.