Consumer Alert: Spotting the signs of a bad mortgage deal
Mendoza was charged with scamming people out of millions in mortgage scheme.
SEATTLE, Wash. -
Con artists peddling mortgages can cost you a fortune. There are ways to spot a mortgage mess and avoid getting trapped in a bad deal. One man shares his story and a valuable lesson.
"Mr. Mendoza was a consummate con artist," says Jeremy Leder, a U.S. Postal Inspector. "He could convince people to do anything for him."
Jonathan Mendoza owned and operated a mortgage company called, MC Financial.
"He probably opened with the intention of being legitimate and to provide people with home loans back in the heyday of mortgages when banks were willing to lend to almost anybody," says Leder.
At some point, Mendoza took a different path and began targeting vulnerable applicants.
"He frequently took advantage of Hispanic families that didn't speak English," says Leder.
He would take prospective buyers' personal information and tell them he would help them buy a home.
"Buying the house under their name and submitting fraudulent documents to the banks in order to inflate the sale price of the home," says Leder.
Essentially banks would pay Mendoza more than the actual sale price for the home and he would pocket the extra money.
"The victims in this case didn't know what kind of deal they were going into and they were stuck with this house under their name and the banks would go after them for foreclosure and basically ruin their credit almost for the rest of their lives," says Leder.
More than 50 mortgages and $3 million in losses were involved in this scam.
"He would advertise on the radio that he could help people with mortgages and he would find these families that needed money, but didn't understand the mortgage process," says Leder.
If victims tried to question Mendoza on his numbers or paperwork, they would get a threatening response.
"He would threaten them with violence or turning them in for deportation purposes," says Leder.
Postal inspectors have some simple advice.
"If a loan officer, a friend, or an associate comes to you and says they want to use your name on a mortgage loan, it's a bad deal. Don't do it. In fact, it's mortgage fraud. It's illegal," says Leder.
Mendoza along with three co-conspirators were convicted in this case. They faced conspiracy, bank fraud, wire fraud, and mail fraud charges and were sentenced to four years in prison.
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