A Carlsbad man will spend the next seven years in federal prison for scamming millions of dollars from homeowners who were desperate to save their homes.
Gary Bobel, 59, was one of the ringleaders of a telemarketing scheme that worked out an Oceanside business called 1st American Law Center.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Valeria Chu, Bobel and his fellow scam artists targeted homeowners who needed to modify their loan to prevent foreclosure.
“They would do some work, but not nearly what was advertised,” Chu told NBC 7.
Mark Mendoza was one of the whistle-blowers and n an exclusive interview with NBC 7 San Diego he said Bobel and his crew promised they could work miracles.
“We’re going to lower the principal balance, we’re going to lower your payment by $1,000,“ Mendoza said.
The Spring Valley resident said he gave the company more than three thousand dollars, and for two years workers gave him the run around.
“You’re talking about your life being on pins and needles, not able to sleep," Mendoza said.
Mendoza reported the situation to the FBI, and an investigation was launched.
Investigators found more than 4000 homeowners had been victimized nationwide by 1st American Law Center. Chu said the company netted more than $11 million off the backs of families in financial desperation.
“A lot of people lost their homes,” Chu said. “In fact, that’s been one of the difficulties and challenges of the case, trying to reach out and find victims because the last address we have is the home that has now since been foreclosed upon.”
Mendoza didn’t lose his home, but it cost him financially.
“Through their advice, they made my balance go up by $60,000,“ Mendoza said. “I was a sucker, I got taken pure and simple.”
Federal prosecutors are asking other victims to come forward because they may be eligible for some restitution. Other co-conspirators Scott Thomas Spencer, 35, and Travis Iverson, 35, received at least two years in jail. The fourth co-conspirator, Mark Andrew Spencer, 32, will be sentenced at a later date.
The other alleged ringleader, Dean Chandler, has been indicted and will be tried sometime next year.