Final Defendant Sentenced in 'Foreclosure Rescue' Scheme
DALLAS -- The final defendant in a high-profile north Texas “foreclosure rescue” case has been sentenced for his role in the scheme, which swindled nearly a quarter of a million dollars from at least 70 homeowners facing foreclosure, announced U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox of the Northern District of Texas.
Real Estate Solutions owner Mark Demetri Stein, 38, of Carrollton, Texas – who pleaded guilty in April to one count of mail fraud – was sentenced to six years in prison and ordered to pay $215,138 in restitution to homeowner victims.
According to documents filed in the case, from Feb. 2012 to Jan. 2013, Stein and three co-conspirators used third parties to contact vulnerable homeowners, offering them an opportunity to get out of their present home loans and receive new, cheaper loans with lower interest and reduced monthly payments.
They lied to desperate homeowners, telling them “investors” were standing by, ready to purchase homeowners’ loans from their original lenders at a greatly reduced price through a “short sale” process, and suggesting homeowners had the legal authority to transfer their deeds to a foreclosure rescue company. Then, although they knew they would not legally own the property, Stein and his co-defendants assured homeowners a foreclosure rescue company could “sell” the property back to the homeowner with a new loan.
There were no investors. The defendants simply pocketed funds collected from these defrauded homeowners.
They issued fraudulent new “loans” requiring hefty down payments, demanded the homeowners sign fraudulent documents, and directed homeowners to start making all future loan payments to them.
As they continued to collect these so-called “mortgage payments,” they instructed homeowners to ignore notices of late- and non-payment from other lenders. In order to further conceal their criminal conduct, they even advised several homeowners file bankruptcy in order to forestall foreclosure.
The three other defendants, Christina Renee Caveny, 37, Richard Bruce Stevens, 53, and Bruce Kevin Hawkins, 54, also pleaded guilty and were sentenced for felony offenses stemming from the scheme. (Caveny was sentenced to 15 months in prison in November 2017. The following month, Hawkins was sentenced to 41 months. Late last month, Stevens was sentenced to 41 months.)
The case was brought as part of the Northern District of Texas’ Bankruptcy Fraud Initiative. Since May 2013, the initiative has prompted a significant increase in the number of felony prosecutions of bankruptcy-related crimes in north Texas. A total of 27 defendants – each prosecuted due to criminal referrals from the United States Trustee’s Office – have been charged and convicted.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Dallas Division conducted the investigation, and Assistant U.S. Attorney David Jarvis prosecuted the case.