Carrolton Man Pleads Guilty For His Role in a “Foreclosure Rescue Scheme” That Exploited Vulnerable Homeowners Facing Foreclosure
DALLAS — Mark Demetri Stein, 38, of Carrollton, Texas, appeared in federal court this morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge Rebecca Rutherford and pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox of the Northern District of Texas.
Stein faces a maximum statutory penalty of twenty years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. Restitution could also be ordered. Stein will remain on bond pending sentencing which will be set at a later date.
A federal grand jury in Dallas returned an indictment in December 2016 charging Stein and three others with felony offenses stemming from a “foreclosure rescue scheme” they ran from approximately February 2012 through January 2013. Bruce Kevin Hawkins, 52, of Desoto, Texas, Richard Bruce Stevens, 51, of San Antonio, Texas, and Christina Renee Caveny, 37, of Dallas, have pleaded guilty to their roles in the scheme. Hawkins and Caveny have been sentenced to 41 months and 15 months in federal prison, respectively. Stevens is scheduled to be sentenced before U.S. District Judge David C. Godbey on May 7, 2018.
According to documents filed in the case, Stein operated Real Estate Solutions, Stevens used Texas Real Estate Services, and Hawkins formed ERealty Mortgage Group, LLC, as foreclosure rescue companies. The conspirators used third parties to contact homeowners and offer them an opportunity to get out of their present home loans and receive a new home loan with a reduced interest payment and reduced monthly payment. Hawkins and other conspirators falsely represented to homeowners that they had “investors” standing by who were ready to quickly purchase the homeowner’s present loan from the lender holding the current mortgage. They also falsely represented that they would use investors to purchase the homeowner’s loan from the original lender at a greatly reduced price through a “short sale” process.
Furthermore, Hawkins and other conspirators falsely represented to the homeowners that the homeowners had the legal authority to transfer their homeowner’s deed to the defendants.
As part of the scheme, the conspirators fraudulently required homeowners to start making all future loan payments to them based on fraudulent so-called “loans,” and they also told homeowners to ignore late payment notices sent by lenders. As part of the scheme, the conspirators conducted a fraudulent “closing” for each homeowner where they caused the homeowner to pay them a large down payment on the new “loan,” and they also had the homeowner sign fraudulent documents, such as a promissory note, deed of trust, special warranty deed, and/or a so-called “land trust.”
Further, according to plea documents, the conspirators falsely represented to homeowners that the conspirators could “sell” their property back to the homeowner with a new loan, when the conspirators well knew they did not legally own the property. The conspirators also told homeowners to ignore notices of nonpayment from their present lender as they continued to unlawfully collect monthly so called “mortgage payments” from homeowners. In fact, conspirators instructed several homeowners to file for bankruptcy but to not follow up with the bankruptcy process as an additional means to delay foreclosure and conceal the conspirators’ criminal conduct. Conspirators concealed that all down payment and monthly mortgage payments fraudulently collected from homeowners was spent for their own personal benefit.
The defendants recruited at least 70 distressed and vulnerable homeowners who were facing the imminent threat of foreclosure on their homes and fraudulently collected a total of at least $242,000 from them.
This case is one of many felony indictments of bankruptcy-related crimes prosecuted as part of the Bankruptcy Fraud Initiative, United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Texas. These bankruptcy prosecutions were a part of a larger number of criminal referrals regularly made to this office by the United States Trustee’s Office, Dallas, Texas. Since 2013, these focused prosecutions have resulted in 25 convictions of individuals engaged in various types of fraudulent conduct within the United States Bankruptcy Courts.
The Dallas FBI investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney David Jarvis is in charge of the prosecution.
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