Aria Maleki, the ringleader of a massive mortgage modification fraud scheme that defrauded more than 1,000 homeowners, has been sentenced to 112 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, says HousingWire reporter Kelsey Ramirez. Maleki pleaded guilty to the charges in March, saying that he and others conspired to defraud struggling homeowners by falsely promising mortgage loan modifications they did not actually provide.

“This defendant presided over a scheme that preyed on struggling homeowners in Connecticut and across the United States, falsely offering mortgage relief in exchange for thousands of dollars that the victims clearly could not afford to spend,” said Deirdre Daly, U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut. “The investigation revealed that the participants in this scheme specifically targeted homeowners who were behind on their mortgage payments, whose homes were under water, or who had recently experienced a financial hardship, such as a lost job.”

Maleki and his conspirators cold-called homeowners under company names that were similar to legitimate servicing companies, offering to provide mortgage loan modifications to those having difficulty repaying their loans, and charged homeowners fees that typically ranged from approximately $2,500 to $4,300 for their services. Maleki led homeowners to believe that they had already been qualified to receive assistance under various government mortgage relief programs, including the Troubled Asset Relief Program and the Home Affordable Modification Program.

“Aria Maleki took advantage of the national mortgage crisis,” said Shelly Binkowski, postal inspector in charge for the Boston division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. “This sentencing clearly demonstrates that those who target hardworking homeowners in today’s challenging economy will be held accountable and prosecuted.”

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