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Brown Announces Arrest of Two Scam Artists Who Committed Loan Modification Fraud

Thursday, March 19, 2009
Contact: (415) 703-5837

ORANGE COUNTY- Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced the arrest of two scam artists -- Mary Alice Yraceburu and Marianne Curtis -- who “coldly and heartlessly” conned over one hundred and sixty victims out of thousands of dollars for non-existent loan modification services.

“These scam artists coldly and heartlessly preyed on Californians desperate for help in saving their homes,” Attorney General Brown said. “Homeowners in financial trouble have to be on guard against loan modification fraud, so they don’t make a bad situation worse.”

Attorney General Brown today filed 49 felony charges Orange County Superior Court against Mary Alice Yraceburu, 45, of Riverdale and Marianne Curtis, 67, of Costa Mesa.

Yraceburu was arrested today in Fresno County and Curtis was arrested today in Orange County on the following charges:

• 24-counts of grand theft;
• 25-counts of violations of California’s foreclosure consultant statutes;
• One special allegation that the total value of theft was over $65,000;
• One special allegation that the total value of theft was over $100,000;

Both women are convicted felons who have served time in state and federal prisons.

The two women operated a company called Foreclosure Freedom, which sent hundreds of fliers to Californians promising help in stopping the foreclosure of their homes. The fliers read: “FINAL NOTICE – Respond only to this notice immediately.” This is similar to First Gov scam, which the Attorney General stopped late last year.

When homeowners called the number on the flyer, they were told their mortgages could be renegotiated to a lower monthly payment. Victims, however, were required to pay thousands of dollars in up-front fees and were instructed not to contact their lenders.

Victims were assured the company had “private lenders and specialists exclusive to their company who are very experienced in the options and methods used to renegotiate home loans,” yet neither of the women who operated the company had real estate licenses, legal training, or any experience in the home mortgage market.

Investigators found no evidence of any successful loan modifications and most of the victims were either forced into bankruptcy or lost their homes to foreclosure.

Assets seized through search warrants served at Foreclosure Freedom and the bank accounts held by Mary Alice Yraceburu and Marianne Curtis totaled over $10,000.

If convicted of all charges, Yraceburu and Curtis face 21 years in prison.

Copies of the complaint and arrest warrant affidavits are attached.

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