California Man Pleads Guilty For Operating A Multi-Million Dollar Mortgage Modification Fraud
Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Daniel B. Brubaker, Inspector-in-Charge of the New York Office of the United States Postal Inspection Service (“USPIS”), announced today that SERGIO LORENZO RODRIGUEZ, of Orange County, California, pled guilty to one count of wire fraud in connection with a fraudulent foreclosure rescue scheme that took in at least $5 million in prohibited advance fees from thousands of financially distressed homeowners. RODRIGUEZ pled guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “As he admitted today, for years, Sergio Lorenzo Rodriguez took advantage of desperate homeowners who were facing foreclosure and eviction to collect from them, in the aggregate, millions of dollars in advance fees based on promises that Rodriguez knew he could not, or would not, keep. He exploited the financial vulnerability of his victims and is now being held accountable for his crime.”
According to the Complaint, the Indictment, and statements made in court, and publicly available documents:
From approximately mid-2015 through August 2020, SERGIO LORENZO RODRIGUEZ and a co-conspirator (the Defendants) owned and/or managed a series of mortgage modification companies through which they perpetrated a scheme to defraud and attempt to defraud financially distressed consumers who were facing or were at imminent risk of foreclosure through deceptive marketing practices. Those companies included American Home Servicing Center, National Advocacy Center, National Advocacy Group, and Capital Home Advocacy Center (collectively, the “Companies”). The Defendants tricked desperate homeowners into paying thousands of dollars each in prohibited advance fees through various misrepresentations, including: falsely claiming that the homeowners had been pre-approved by their lender or servicer for a mortgage modification; misrepresenting prohibited advance fees as closing costs or other non-prohibited costs; fraudulently claiming that the Companies achieved success rates of 95 percent or higher for mortgage modifications; and making empty promises of a no-risk money back guarantee. As a result of their intentional misrepresentations, and misrepresentations that they encouraged their subordinates to make, the Defendants induced thousands of homeowners to pay, in the aggregate, millions of dollars in prohibited advance fees to the Companies, including a large number of consumers who were ultimately denied mortgage modifications or who received modification offers that were less favorable than they had been led to expect at the time they paid advance fees.
In February 2018, the Federal Trade Commission brought a civil lawsuit against the Defendants, among others, in federal court in Santa Ana, California. That civil action resulted first in a temporary restraining order and then a permanent injunction barring the Defendants from marketing and selling all debt relief products and services. As alleged in the Indictment, the Defendants flouted those judicial orders by having a relative create another mortgage modification company named 1st Premier Asset Solutions, which the Defendants operated using aliases and some of the same deceptive practices.
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SERGIO LORENZO RODRIGUEZ, 47, of Laguna Niguel, California, pled guilty to one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.
The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Williams praised the outstanding and persistent investigative work of the United States Postal Inspection Service and thanked the Federal Trade Commission for their assistance.
The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Lai is in charge of the prosecution.
 As to Rodriguez’s co-defendant Eva Christine Rodriguez, the entirety of the text of the Indictment, and the descriptions of the Indictment set forth herein constitute only allegations and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.