Four Orange County defendants sentenced in loan modification scam

Four Orange County men were sentenced Monday for their participation in a real estate investment scam that took an estimated $130,000 from hundreds of victims, prosecutors said.

Justin Dennis Koelle, 23, of Costa Mesa, was sentenced to nine months in jail and five years of formal probation, according to the Orange County district attorney’s office.

Dominic Adam Nolan, 32, of Irvine, was sentenced to six months in jail and five years of formal probation. Jacob John Cunningham, 26, and John D. Silva, 28, both of Irvine, each received sentences of eight months in jail and five years formal probation.

All four men are required to pay restitution. They pleaded guilty in May to charges that include conspiracy to collect illegal upfront fees.

A fifth man, Andrew Michael Phalen, 26, of Mission Viejo, pleaded guilty in June 2012. He was sentenced to a year in jail and five years of formal probation.

All five men are prohibited from engaging in loan modification or loan consulting practices.

Prosecutors said that from January 2009 to March 2012, the men created fraudulent loan modification businesses that were used to steal money without completing any services.

The men sent letters offering to restructure home loans. The notices looked as if they came from the recipients’ lenders, prosecutors said.

The five regularly changed the names of their fake businesses, as well as their phone numbers and addresses.

In December 2011, Cunningham, Nolan and Silva started another scheme that distributed letters that were forged with a CitiFinancial or CitiMortgage logo. The letters offered a low interest rate to refinance a home and instructed the recipient to deposit $3,500 to $4,600 directly into bank accounts.

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