It’s alarming how much fraud and deception occurs in real estate these days, in fact some would say our industry is plagued with dishonesty and greed. At times, it seems as though more people are being cheated than are being helped. Stories of scams are all too common, and they just keep coming.
The most recent case to come to a close is that of Najia Jalan, a 30-year-old Costa Mesa resident whose previous stints landed her with charges including burglary, theft, possession of narcotics, obtaining money under false pretenses and felony possession of a controlled substance. Following a lawsuit by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2012, and her most recent arrest at LAX in October of 2014, Najia Jalan has recently pleaded guilty in a Los Angeles Federal court to federal charges stemming from a foreclosure rescue fraud scheme that falsely promised mortgage relief to homeowners in need of help.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Jalan is currently facing between two and six years in federal prison when she is sentenced October 5th for stealing $1.6 million from desperate homeowners who thought they were paying for foreclosure relief, mortgage modifications, or legal representation. Prosecutors say Jalan used numerous aliases and fabricated company names, such as National Legal Help Center, United National Mortgage Protection Center, OC NonProfit, and American Consumer Law Center, as guises to make these services appear legitimate. The homeowners were scammed into paying fees ranging from $1,000 to $3,000, sometimes even over $10,000.
Through her scheme set up through the illegitimate National Legal Help Center, Jalan and a co-defendant, who are not licensed attorneys, claimed they would provide legal representation for consumers, yet these paying consumers did not receive any sort of actual legal representation.
In one specific case, court reports detail that Jalan orchestrated a $50,000 scam on a Florida woman who became distressed about preventing foreclosure on her home after getting divorced. This woman made monthly payments of $1,850 to Jalan for one year alone and was eventually evicted from her home.
Have any of your client’s fallen victim to Jalan, or others looking to defraud homeowners? How do you advise your clients on avoiding scams?
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