Three scam artists have been charged with orchestrating a multi-million dollar scheme that involved tricking homeowners into selling their homes to a fraudulent company, according to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara's office.
Mario Alvarenga, Rajesh Maddiwar and Amir Meiri were all allegedly involved in the scheme, in which homeowners whose properties were on the verge of foreclosure were led to believe they could temporarily sell their homes to a company called Launch Development. These victims, who were targeted by mailers and telemarketers, believed their homes would be resold to a relative at a discount within 90 days, thus easing their financial burdens without undergoing a loan modification. The victims were also advised they'd be able to stay in their homes during the entire process.
But the documents the victims signed, which, according to prosecutors, were occasionally blank, allowed Launch Development to permanently own the properties, and the victims were typically forced out of the homes soon after the sale took place.
The defendants have allegedly been defrauding homeowners in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens since 2013; Alvarenga reportedly advised the homeowners to do the short sell, Maddiwar reportedly posed as an attorney, and Meiri would evict the victims after the deals were made.
All three are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and could spend a maximum of 20 years in prison if convicted.