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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Ohio

Friday, March 6, 2015

Two Toledo-Area Men Indicted for Stealing $1 Million through Loan-Modification Scheme

Two Toledo-area men were indicted for wire fraud related to stealing more than $1 million from hundreds of people through a fraudulent loan-modification scheme, said Steven M. Dettelbach, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio and Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Cleveland office.

Indicted are Jason J. Keating, 36, of Toledo, and Christopher J. Howder, 37, of Perrysburg. They worked at Making Home Affordable USA (MHAUSA) from 120 10th Street in Toledo, where Keating was self-described president and Howder was the self-described underwriting manager.

The company used various names but homeowners were told MHAUSA had a very high rate of success and that customers could achieve modified interest rates as low as 2 percent, according to the indictment.

Prospective participants were told there was a flat fee for service, generally between $495 and $795. Participants were told to stop making monthly mortgage payments to their lenders and instead to pay a percentage of their mortgage to MHAUSA, according to the indictment.

Participants were told MHAUSA would hold these payments in a “stimulus reserve” account to demonstrate the participants could reliably make payments, and that once the loans were modified, the money would be turned over to the lenders, according to the indictment.

The money obtained through the fraud was spent on concession at professional sports venues, restaurants, cash withdrawals, gentlemen’s clubs, a tanning salon Las Vegas hotel, a jewelry store and a lingerie store, according to the indictment.

“These defendants took $1 million from people struggling to hold onto their homes,” Dettelbach said.

“They used money obtained through fraud to pay for expensive restaurants and vacations,” Anthony said.

If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the Court after reviewing factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violation.  In all cases the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases it will be less than the maximum.

The investigating agency in this case is the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Toledo, Ohio and the Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of Inspector General.  The case is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Gene Crawford.

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt.  Defendants are entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Updated March 16, 2015