LANSING – September 11, 2013 – (RealEstateRama) — Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced the conviction on one count of felony racketeering, a 20-year felony, of Tonya Raisbeck, 38, of Fennville for illegally operating advanced fee “foreclosure rescue” operations that scammed at least 85 west Michigan homeowners facing foreclosure out of thousands of dollars.
“Foreclosure rescue scam artists who defraud Michigan homeowners devastated by the mortgage crisis must be brought to justice,” said Schuette. “I will continue to aggressively prosecute criminals who swindled vulnerable foreclosure victims with nowhere to turn.”
In 2008, Raisbeck incorporated Mobile Modification, Inc., as a for profit corporation to allegedly perform mortgage modifications for clients. She moved the company from her home to a business location in Fennville the following year. From March 2009 thru July 2010, Raisbeck falsely represented to potential victims that she had special relationships with the banks that allowed her to obtain loan modifications for those facing foreclosure. Raisbeck guaranteed to victims that she could lower the victim’s mortgage interest rate and payment as well as prevent foreclosures in exchange for the payment of her $795 up-front fee. Additionally, Raisbeck advised hundreds of victims to stop making their mortgage payments and to cease communication with the mortgage company because she would take care of everything for them. Many victims followed Raisbeck’s advice and consequently found themselves in a much worse position.
Some west Michigan homeowners saw their credit rating plummet and lost their homes to foreclosure as a result of Raisbeck’s bad advice. Raisbeck took the victims’ money but performed little to no work to obtain the modification. According to the investigation, Raisbeck defrauded at least 85 victims out of approximately $70,000, not including the value of lost homes.
“Raisbeck was a one-woman crime wave, defrauding at least 85 victims struggling to keep their homes during an economic downturn. We will request these victims be made eligible for payment from the newly created Victim Restitution Program, established with funds from the National Mortgage Settlement.”
Schuette, in cooperation with the legislature, created the Victim Restitution Program with funds from the National Mortgage Settlement to aid residents across Michigan affected by the foreclosure crisis. During the foreclosure crisis, Michigan homeowners often unknowingly turned to scam artists for help in saving their homes after banks failed to offer assistance. By the time scam artists are convicted, the money they collected from vicitms’ is long gone. Under the Victim Restitution Program, victims are able to apply for restitution payments following a successful prosecution by the Attorney General’s office. To be eligible, victims must be listed on a court-ordered restitution order.
This is the second foreclosure rescue case involving Raisbeck prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Homeowner Protection Unit. In 2011, Raisbeck was convicted by an Allegan jury on two counts of False Pretenses and one count of Conspiracy to Commit False Pretenses. Raisbeck was sentenced by Allegan Circuit Court Judge Margaret Zuzich Bakker to a total of 12 months in jail. She has already served that sentence.
Schuette reminds Michigan homeowners that citizens do not need to pay to speak with their lender or servicer or to obtain outside assistance with mortgage issues. Free local assistance with foreclosure issues can be found by calling the Michigan State Housing Development Authority at (866) 946-7432.
“I encourage homeowners with mortgage concerns to contact free, state-certified housing counselors,” said Schuette. “You do not have to pay for assistance or to speak with your lender.”
Since taking office, Attorney General Schuette has convicted 31 individuals and companies involved in mortgage relief scams through his Homeowner Protection Unit.
Raisbeck will appear in court for sentencing on October 9, 2013 at 2:00 pm before Judge Kevin Cronin in Michigan’s 48th Circuit Court in Allegan County. Schuette will request restitution on behalf of Raisbeck’s 85 victims.
Contact: Joy Yearout 517-373-8060