Two Men Charged with Swindling Victims of Thousands of Dollars in Advance Fees While Failing to Modify Home Loans
|U.S. Attorney’s Office October 29, 2013|
CHICAGO―Two men who operated various businesses at multiple Chicago-area locations since at least 2009 are facing federal fraud charges for allegedly charging thousands of dollars in advance fees, purportedly to help individuals modify their existing home mortgage loans, but then failing to provide the services they promised.
The charges allege that the defendants defrauded a handful of known victims, but federal law enforcement officials believe there could be hundreds of potential victims and are appealing for information from anyone with knowledge of the alleged scheme.
The defendants, Everett Popoe, also known as “Jonathan Pincuss,” 38, of Bolingbrook, and Colbi Andry, aka “Richard Lockwell” and “Rich Ingram,” 38, of Chicago, were each charged with wire fraud in a criminal complaint that was filed last week in U.S. District Court.
Both men were released on $10,000 unsecured bonds and have a preliminary hearing set for November 13 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Mason in federal court.
The business entities that they allegedly used were: EAC Financial LLC; Emergency Debt Relief Center; Dimond Financial LLC; D Financial; The Andry Group LLC; Family First Home Solutions LLC; The Law Group; Certified Forensic Loan Auditors, LLC; and Integrity Mortgage and Insurance Co., all of which were located, often at retail business sites, in Chicago or south suburban Monee or Matteson.
Anyone who suspects that he or she might be a victim and has not already received a victim survey from the U.S. Attorney's Office should submit his/her name and address to email@example.com. Persons without Internet access may call a toll-free number― (866) 364-2621―and leave a message with the spelling of their names and addresses, and a form will be mailed to them.
According to the complaint, Pope and Andry frequently convinced customers who were not experiencing financial hardship that they were eligible for loan modifications. Then, they demanded up-front fees from victims, usually ranging between $2,000 and $3,000. For many of their victims, loan modifications were never completed or were completed with terms that were less favorable and without the customers’ agreement.
To perpetuate the alleged scheme, Pope and Andry have used aliases to conceal their true identities, and they have frequently changed business names to make it more difficult for dissatisfied customers to locate them. As part of the scheme, Pope and Andry falsely represented to victims that their loan modification would be overseen by an attorney, the charges allege. At times, Pope allegedly identified himself as “attorney Jonathan Pincuss.”
After the city of Chicago and the Illinois Attorney General’s Office filed separate civil lawsuits in 2010 and 2011, respectively, against Pope, Andry, and certain business entities that were known at that time, the complaint alleges that the defendants ceased operating under those business names and started up new business entities while continuing to defraud customers.
The charges were announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Robert J. Shields, Jr., Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sharon Fairley.
Wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or an alternative fine totaling twice the gross gain or twice the loss, whichever is greater, and restitution is mandatory. If convicted, the court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal sentencing statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.
A complaint contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt.
The defendants presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The investigation falls under the umbrella of the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, which includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch and, with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes. For more information on the task force, visit: www.stopfraud.gov.