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Glendora Resident One of 10 Arrested in Mortgage Scam

The scam allegedly stole $7 million from 4,000 homeowners, sending many into foreclosure.

Federal agents arrested 10 people, including one Glendora resident who allegedly worked at a Rancho Cucamonga-based business that offered fake loan modification programs to 4,000 financially distressed homeowners Wednesday morning.

The scam run out of 21st Century Real Estate Investment Corp. stole at least $7 million in fees from the victims, many of whom also lost their homes to foreclosure.

According to the indictment, Andrea Ramirez of Rancho Cucamonga operated 21st Century and other companies. During an 18-month period, 21st Century made false promises and guarantees to financially distressed homeowners. Employees in the company convinced homeowners to cease making their mortgage payments by making bogus claims that the company would be able to negotiate loan modifications from the homeowners’ mortgage lenders, while also falsely identifying 21st Century as a loan modification program sponsored by the United States government.

"The housing crisis provided fraud artists a new avenue to exploit people in financial distress," said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. in a statement. "Many of the victims in this alleged scheme were in desperate financial straits, and shameless financial predators promised relief they could not deliver. As a result, many homeowners went into foreclosure and now have to deal with the ramifications of losing their homes."

Ramirez, who also used the names Andrea Parker and Lisa Evans, and the other 21st Century employees contacted the homeowners through “cold calls, newspaper ads and mailings, and various 21st Century-controlled websites that advertised loan modification services.”

Once they contacted the distressed homeowners, according to the indictment, Ramirez and other 21st Century employees falsely told clients that they would be able to obtain new mortgages with lower interest rates through their government-sponsored program.

While convincing homeowners to cease making payments directly to their mortgage lenders and paying 21st Century instead, Ramirez and her employees were pocketing the money.

FBI agents arrested 10 named in the indictment, while one is currently a fugitive sought by authorities.

The 11 defendants named in the indictment are:

Andrea Ramirez, 44, of Rancho Cucamonga; Christopher Paul George, 42, Rancho Cucamonga, who surrendered this morning to authorities; Michael Bruce Bates, who also used the names Michael Bruce Myers and Robert Allen Castro, 61, of Moreno Valley; Crystal Taiwana Buck, 37, of Long Beach; Michael Lewis Parker, 34, of Pomona,  Catalina Deleon, 35, of Glendora; Hamid Reza Shalviri, 50, Montebello, who self-surrendered this morning after being contacted by federal agents; Yadira Garcia Padilla, 35, of Rancho Cucamonga; Mindy Sue Holt, 53, of San Bernardino; Iris Melissa Pelayo, 42, of Upland; and Albert DiRoberto, 59, of Fullerton.

The defendants were arraigned Wednesday afternoon during their initial court appearances in United States District Court in Riverside.

All 11 defendants are charged with nine felony counts, including five counts of mail fraud, three counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy. Each count carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in jail.

Geoff Allen September 12, 2012 at 11:04 PM
This is great, but what about the elite financial frauds at the top of the pyramid on Wall Street who actually stole over 100,000 times more money! Yeah, you know, an amount measured in the HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS! Nothing happens to those guys, but they get to continue playing their scams and frauds, continue to live in many different mansions around the world, flying in their private jets and sailing in their massive yachts. WHAT ABOUT THEM???
Bill C. September 13, 2012 at 01:14 AM
Ask the AG who came from Wall Street, that would be Eric Holder.
Lou Irigoyen September 13, 2012 at 06:48 PM
Here here. People that have set themselves up as "saviors" of the people in foreclosure, should all be severly punished including the mucky mucks on Wall Street. the problem is that so many ties to the nations wealthier citizens, provides a shield that allows them to behave this way. Unfortunately, we have way much more than this running rampant in our country. Large corporations running wild without anyone or any agency keeping them in check. The mortgage industry is largely to blame for the mess in the housing. thousands of unqualified borrowers took advantage of the lenient programs that disregarded the sacred lending policies and guidelines that are normally in place. Are the borrowers free of blame? Not in the least. If I made $10 dollars per hour on my job and someone told me I could afford a $500,000 dollar home, I would have to give it some serious thought before signing one single piece of paper. So to many who said they were scammed, C'mon. some common sense, but that does not excuse the many brokers, bankers and underwriters that completely looked the other way and allowed unqualified borrowers and buyers to take on debt that was doomed from the beginning. What is the solution? Good question! It's the old, "you cant unscramble scrambled eggs" The damage has been done. The only reaction should be to heavily regulate lenders from causing this in the future. License revocation and sanctions are one way.
just my opinion September 13, 2012 at 07:21 PM
I'm happy .....it's at least a start. I just feel bad for the victims, that's just horrible.
Annie B. September 13, 2012 at 08:28 PM
As a real estate agent, I have seen this happen to many local people in the area.There are many more where these guys came from. The only advise I can give is that if it looks to good to be true, it usually is! Or you can call me and I will investigate the situation for you. I enjoy helping people from these types of scams! You can call me Ann Blanco, Southland Properties at 626-201-2225.
Concerned September 14, 2012 at 05:22 AM
In reference to the 10.00 making a hour comment. There are also people that make or made 40k to 65k that are targets of this industry as well. But low income people are targets because many of the agents convince them that they can handle the payments. They prey on low income.
Concerned September 14, 2012 at 05:22 AM
agreed
Concerned September 14, 2012 at 05:23 AM
Yep
Steve Kady September 14, 2012 at 05:57 PM
Article said 21st Century Real Estate. Not to be confused with Century 21
Gary Donahue September 16, 2012 at 02:51 PM
That is a good distinction to recognize. The names are close enough to cause confusion and Century 21 will no doubt suffer from this. I hope these people spend many years in prison.

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