Christy Romero, Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP), and Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced the unsealing of charges against Ped Abghari, a/k/a “Ted Allen,” Dionysius Fiumano, a/k/a “D,” and Justin Romano for engaging in a mortgage modification scheme that defrauded over 8,000 homeowners in all 50 states out of over $18.5 million, in what is believed to be the largest mortgage modification scheme ever charged.
Each defendant is charged with wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Abghari and Fiumano were arrested this morning in Irvine, Calif., and are expected to be presented later today in California federal court before United States Magistrate Judge Margaret Nagle. Romano was arrested this morning in Blue Point, N.Y., and is expected to be presented later today in Manhattan federal court before United States Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn.
Christy Romero, Special Inspector General for TARP (SIGTARP), said, “Earlier, SIGTARP special agents arrested Abghari, Fiumano, and Romano after our investigation with the U.S. Attorney's Office uncovered an alleged massive, nationwide mortgage modification fraud scheme that purportedly targeted homeowners behind on their mortgage payments who simply wanted help from TARP's housing program, HAMP. The defendants are alleged to have stolen more than $18.5 million from more than 8,000 struggling homeowners by making empty promises that the homeowners would be preapproved for lower mortgage payments through HAMP. This was all a purported ruse used to trick vulnerable homeowners into paying the defendants thousands of dollars in up-front fees for which zero meaningful work was ever actually done. SIGTARP has aggressively pursued these allegations, working closely with Preet Bharara's office, to protect homeowners in New York and across our nation from becoming victims of this crime and to bring perpetrators to justice.”
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “As alleged, these defendants preyed on thousands of homeowners struggling to make their mortgage payments and meet their financial obligations. This Office has zero tolerance for those who target and exploit financially vulnerable people, and we will continue to work to hold these and like-minded defendants accountable.”