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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Virginia

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Former Las Vegas Couple Guilty of Defrauding Over 400 Vulnerable Homeowners in $3.8 Million Mortgage Scam

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Kristen Michelle Ayala, aka “Amber Lynch,” aka “Olivia Benet,” aka “Grace Williams,” 30, and Joshua Manuel Sanchez, aka “Nelson Cruz,” aka “Chris Ward,” “Daniel Mora,” 34, both formerly of Las Vegas, have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud for their role in a $3.8 million dollar mortgage modification scam. 

In a statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, from in and around October 2012 through September 2014, Ayala, Sanchez, and others, executed a scheme to defraud vulnerable victim homeowners who were at risk of foreclosure.  Ayala and Sanchez developed fraudulent documents, telephone scripts, and aliases in an effort to defraud the victim homeowners.  Their scheme lulled victim homeowners into believing that the defendants were part of the legitimate U.S. Government “Home Affordable Modification Program” (“HAMP”).  During the execution of the ruse, the Ayala and Sanchez used documents containing fraudulent government seals, made statements regarding modification of the victims’ mortgages through the HAMP program, and the victims’ mortgage payments to their own accounts rather than to the victims’ lenders.  To date, the scheme defrauded more than 400 victims, caused losses of over $3.8 million dollars, and resulted in many victims losing their homes, despite the victims’ efforts to modify their mortgages and continue to make payments on their loans.  

Ayala and Sanchez were indicted by a federal grand jury on May 1, 2015. Each faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when sentenced on Oct. 29, 2015. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; and Christy Romero, Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP), made the announcement after the plea was accepted by U.S. District Judge James C. Cacheris.

This case was investigated by SIGTARP. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Zach Terwilliger and James P. Gillis are prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.  Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:15-cr-147.

Updated August 5, 2015