Office of Public Affairs
Friday, April 22, 2011
Federal Charges Filed Against Las Vegas Man for Defrauding Distressed Homeowners
WASHINGTON – A Las Vegas man was arrested yesterday on charges that he defrauded distressed homeowners in Las Vegas who were attempting to refinance or adjust their home mortgages, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Daniel G. Bogden for the District of Nevada.
Alex P. Soria, 64, is charged in an indictment in U.S. District Court in Nevada with six counts of wire fraud, three counts of mail fraud, one count of concealment of information from the Social Security Administration and one count of theft of government funds. Soria was arrested yesterday in Las Vegas, and made an initial appearance before a federal magistrate judge.
According to the indictment, Soria worked in the mortgage lending industry since approximately 1970. From approximately May 2008 to January 2010, Soria allegedly devised a scheme to defraud distressed homeowners who were trying to refinance or adjust their home mortgages. The indictment alleges that Soria solicited the homeowners through advertisements and word of mouth to hire him as a mortgage agent to assist them with their mortgages. Soria allegedly falsely told the homeowners he was a loan officer with Amwest Capital and that he could help them obtain relief with their mortgages through two federal programs, Hope for Homeowners and the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Soria also falsely told the homeowners that he had helped other homeowners obtain financing. According to the indictment, Soria’s Nevada mortgage agent license had expired in April 2008 and he lacked licensing or status to help the homeowners obtain financing through the federal programs.
The indictment also alleges that in order to make the homeowners think they were going to receive assistance with their home mortgages, Soria provided false information to the homeowners, such as letters and emails, stating that they had prequalified for refinancing and were on track to receive help or that the government was to blame for loans not closing. In fact, Soria did not obtain government assistance for any of the victims identified in the indictment, even though he fraudulently collected approximately $17,000 from 15 homeowners through the alleged scheme.
Soria is also charged with unlawfully collecting Social Security disability benefits for approximately 20 years, from January 1990 to December 2010, when he was actually working in and profiting from the mortgage industry.
If convicted, Soria faces up to 20 years in prison for each fraud count, up to five years in prison on the concealment count, up to 10 years in prison on the theft count, and a fine of up to $250,000 on each count.
The case was investigated by the Office of the Inspector General for U.S. Housing and Urban Development and the Office of the Inspector General for the Social Security Administration. It is being prosecuted by Brian R. Young, Trial Attorney with the Fraud Section in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
An indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
This law enforcement action is part efforts underway by the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency task force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force 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 about the task force visit: www.stopfraud.gov.