Charges filed, victims of fraudulent foreclosure rescue service sought

January 21, 2011
Santa Paula News

The Ventura County District Attorney’s Office Real Estate Fraud Unit is asking homeowners who sought help to avoid foreclosure through the Oxnard based USA Home Recovery Service to contact them after prosecutors filed a felony complaint alleging the service’s clients were the victims of fraud.

Last week prosecutors filed a felony complaint against four people and made arrests alleging they ran a fraudulent home foreclosure rescue program from the Oxnard office. According to a statement, prosecutors allege that Maria Victoria Santos, 55, of Ventura, along with Felipe Carlos Segovia Castro, 67, of Moreno Valley, Laura Cecilia Carlson, 64, of Hacienda Heights, and Margie Joanna Vargas, 22, of Orange, targeted predominantly monolingual Spanish-speaking clients facing foreclosure on their homes.

The four allegedly worked together to collect thousands of dollars in upfront fees from USA Home Recovery Service clients after promising to save their homes from foreclosure. However, prosecutors allege their clients received no actual services and lost thousands of dollars in addition to their homes.

Santos was arrested in Ventura, while Castro and Carlson were arrested in Pomona on January 13. Santos faces 11 counts of foreclosure consultant fraud and seven counts of grand theft. Castro is charged with one count of foreclosure consultant fraud. Carlson, a licensed real estate saleswoman, and Vargas, a licensed Notary Public, each were charged with two counts of foreclosure consultant fraud.

If convicted, Santos faces a maximum sentence of 14 years, four months in state prison. Carlson and Vargas face three years and eight months in state prison, while Castro faces up to three years in state prison.

The foreclosure rescue business - USA Home Recovery Service - was run by Santos out of an office on Fifth Street in Oxnard, and her services were advertised on local radio stations broadcasting in Spanish to Spanish-speaking residents in Ventura County. Those who suspect they were victimized in this operation are asked to contact the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office Real Estate Fraud Unit at 662-1750 and file a complaint.

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