December 16th the local San Diego publication SignOn San Diego reported that 4 people, including the founder of The Lead Slingers and The Lead Source, Gary Bobel, pleaded guilty in a federal court to charges including tax evasion, wire fraud, and money laundering.
The group of men being charged were under investigation by the FBI while working at the loan modification company 1st American Law Center. The others included Scott Spencer, Mark Spencer and Travis Iverson.
Men plead guilty in $11 million in mortgage fraud
By Greg Moran
Originally published December 16, 2011 at 5:23 p.m., updated December 16, 2011 at 9:32 p.m.
SAN DIEGO — Four people involved in an Oceanside loan modification business that ripped off homeowners across the country for $11 million pleaded guilty Friday in federal court to a variety of charges, including conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering and tax evasion.
The charges stem from an FBI investigation into 1st American Law Center, which offered people struggling to hold on to their homes mortgage modification services. Instead, prosecutors said the business preyed on distressed homeowners, and lied about its success rate in modifying mortgages and what it could accomplish for homeowners.
Gary Bobel, 59, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering, and tax evasion. The Carlsbad resident was the firm’s founder.
Scott Spencer, 35, and Mark Spencer, 32, both of Del Mar, and Travis Iverson, 35, of Riverside each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Iverson owned a business in Riverside that acted as a call center for 1st American Law Center, court records show.
Mark and Scott Spencer were identified in court papers as “closers” — salesmen who completed deals with clients.
A fifth man, Roger Jones, 56, pleaded guilty to conspiracy in December and was sentenced to 21 months in prison in March, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The company employed telemarketers who used high-pressure sales tactics and outright lies to rope in customers. They charged fees from about $2,000 to $5,000 per customer, and ended up with thousands of irate former customers whose mortgages were never modified.
Between September 2008 and 2010, the business defrauded more than 4,000 consumers nationwide of $11 million, court records say.
The wire fraud conspiracy and tax evasion charges each carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Sentencing is set for March 9.