Federal Jury Convicts Man Who Took Over $1.5 Million From Distressed Homeowners in Bogus Loan Modification Scheme
SANTA ANA, California – An Orange County man who deceived distressed homeowners with false promises that he could help them avoid foreclosure by obtaining modifications to their mortgages – or even completely eliminating their loans – was convicted today on federal fraud charges.
Antonio Marquette, who went by “Alan Le” and “Anthony Le,” 56, of Midway City, was convicted this afternoon in United States District Court in Santa Ana of nine counts of mail fraud, one count of wire fraud, and one count of money laundering. Marquette was taken into custody after the verdicts were taken, and United States District Judge Andrew J. Guilford set the sentencing hearing for January 30, 2017, at which time Marquette will face a statutory maximum sentence of 220 years.
According to evidence at trial, Marquette operated Bolsa Marketing Group in Garden Grove in 2010 and 2011 and charged homeowners up to $100,000 in cash for services that the homeowners did not receive. Through Bolsa Marketing, Marquette ran a scheme that targeted distressed homeowners, most of whom were members of Vietnamese communities in Southern California, the Bay Area and Houston, and induced them to pay large up-front fees to obtain mortgage relief services.
“This defendant was convicted today of victimizing vulnerable homeowners who were desperate to avoid foreclosure of their homes,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “While the defendant convinced his victims to pay exorbitant fees with lofty, false promises, he in fact did nothing to help them, and many victims subsequently lost their homes.”
The evidence showed that Marquette operated the scheme by “falsely promising homeowners mortgage loan modifications that would substantially reduce their mortgage payments, avoid foreclosure, or eliminate their mortgage loans entirely.” The trial evidence further showed that Marquette took in more than $1.5 million from victim-homeowners.
As part of the scheme, Marquette made various promises to homeowners, including making guarantees that he could reduce their outstanding debt to 25 percent of the loan balance in only four months. Marquette also sent fraudulent checks to “pay off” mortgages and filed bogus documents with county recorders’ offices, according to court documents.
“The defendant operated this affinity scheme by targeting Vietnamese homeowners with false promises via Vietnamese-language radio advertisements, which added a veneer of legitimacy to his scheme,” said Deirdre Fike the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “Homeowners are encouraged to thoroughly research solicitations, including those advertised through the media, before placing their trust and their money with anyone in advance of receiving services.”
The case against Marquette was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Greg Staples.