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Everett man pleads guilty to mortgage scam

January 27, 2021 GMT

EVERETT, Wash. (AP) — The manager of an Everett, Washington, call center pleaded guilty Tuesday to a scam that took $2.5 million from about 1,000 distressed homeowners who were facing foreclosure, according to federal prosecutors.

Edwin Josue Herrera Rosales, 34, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Seattle to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

U.S. District Court Judge Paula McCandlis allowed Herrera to remain out of custody while he awaits his May 4 sentencing. He faces up to five years in prison. The amount of restitution he must pay back will be determined by the court.

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Herrera operated call centers under the names “Sound Solutions Group,” “Community Assistance Center,” and California-based “Sienna Support Network,” U.S. Attorney Brian Moran said in a statement.

He and his co-conspirators sent solicitation mailers to homeowners nationwide that promised that they could reduce mortgage debts and lower their monthly payments, Moran said. When homeowners called the center, operators put them through a phony “underwriting” process.

The customers paid an upfront fee of $3,000 for the company to negotiate a favorable mortgage modification, but the company had no legal or “underwriting” staff. Between March 2016 and May 2018, about 1,000 customers paid the fees, Moran said.

A few customers obtained a lower monthly mortgage payment but most had no change and some had a higher rate, Moran said. After Herrera paid the call centers and a share to his co-conspirators, he kept about $360,000, Moran said.