Two California Residents Sentenced in $13 Million Loan Scam

Two San Diego men were sentenced last week for conspiring to defraud more than 3,000 homeowners in a $13 million loan-modification scam. In total 13 defendants have now been sentenced in connection with this scam.

The two most recent defendants Attorney Dean Chandler, 50, of Fallbrook, was sentenced to 12 years in prison and Michael Eccles, 35, of Vista, a manager in the company’s telemarketing center, was sentenced to five years in prison, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement.

Chandler was president and attorney for 1st American Law Center, a sham Oceanside law firm. Following a jury trial, both were convicted of conspiracy, mail fraud and wire fraud. Chandler, described as “the face of the law firm,” also was convicted of money laundering.

The case was investigated by the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service.

Among other things, the telemarketers promised potential clients that a team of attorneys would negotiate with their mortgage lenders; that their attorney retainer fee would be safe in a trust account; and that there was a money-back guarantee.

“Nearly all of the statements made by telemarketers to the clients were lies,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said, noting the firm failed to modify three out of every four loans and failed to provide refunds “to untold numbers of clients.”

Many victims testified during the trial, including an Indiana couple who had been helping a paraplegic son. They ended up losing their home and their money.

U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy said the defendants exploited homeowners who were “desperately trying to make ends meet and stay in their homes.” FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric S. Birnbaum of San Diego said Chandler and Eccles preyed on the financially vulnerable and “misused and abused their positions of trust.”

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