Two Brooklyn men are facing charges in federal court in New Jersey for allegedly operating a bogus foreclosure rescue company that scammed millions of dollars from homeowners and lenders.
Garth Celestine, 44, and Phil Simon, 34 were arrested at their residences by FBI agents and were charged with attempt and conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with a home foreclosure scheme.
It is alleged that the suspects conspired with each other and targeted homeowners who were facing foreclosure but held substantial equity in their homes.
Authorities also claim that Celestine and Simon defrauded mortgage lenders by making materially false representations and promises and used wire transfers in order to carry out their scheme.
Operating a firm called Home Savers Consulting Corporation, authorities state Celestine and Simon influenced victims to give up the titles of their homes for a one year timeframe, promising in the end to secure a mortgage payment that would be more affordable.
Instead, according to investigators, the two men recruited straw buyers with good credit and forged home equity loan applications, including properties in Bergenfield, Paterson and Elizabeth.
In total, Celestine and Simon caused lenders to fund over $10 million worth of fraudulent loans and pocketed about $1.5 million worth of equity from the properties.
Overall, most homes were allowed to fall into foreclosure due to defaulted payments, authorities said.
“Let me make this crystal clear: anyone engaged in any type of mortgage fraud scheme will most definitely be investigated, caught, and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Weysan Dun, head of the FBI’s Newark office stated.
If convicted, the defendants could face a sentence of up to thirty years in prison, a $1 million fine, or both.