DA's Office Seeking More Victims in Foreclosure Scam

The San Diego District Attorney's office is looking for more victims of the widespread foreclosure scam.

So far, more than 20 victims have come foreward saying they lost tens of thousands of dollars in the scheme.

Victims were falsly told that "land patents" would protect their properties from foreclosue.

"The victims in this case were desperate to save their homes from foreclosure," said District Attorney Bonnie M. Dumanis. "They were preyed upon by these con artists, who promised help but then stole their money."

The scam, which targeted member of the local Filipino community, operated in San Diego County from 2007 through 2008 and gained national attention.

Six defendants have been charged in connection with the case, including the alleged ringleader, 61-year-old Larry Smith. He has been charged with conspiracy to commit grand theft and deceitful practices in acting as a mortgage foreclosure consultant. If convicted, Smith faces 37 years to life in prison.

Also charged are Maria Candida Capa,45, and Margarita Gaciola, 47. They are both former managers of At Home Consulting Group, where many of the land patent presentations were pitched. Jessica Refuerzo, 55; Julita Whittingham, 47; and Edgardo Orcino, 57, have also been charged.

The group is accused of defrauding homeowners out of more that $100,000. They sold the "land patents" to homeowners and claimed that the victims could pay only 10% of their mortgage, according to the DA's office.

A preliminary hearing is set for June 15. Anyone who believes they may have been a victim is asked to call (619) 531-4475.

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