International mortgage fraud operation bust in Fresno

FRESNO, Calif.

The operation is accused of taking advantage of people in the most desperate financial situations and making their problems even worse.

Officers arrested Baljit Singh and Sharanjit Kaur at a Northwest Fresno home, and put them in jail on charges of grand theft.

Police served four search warrants Wednesday, and they've uncovered more than 20 victims -- people in dire straits who were taken advantage of when they were looking for a quick way out.

A simple arrest in Northwest Fresno brought a complicated web of scams to an end, according to Fresno Police.

Singh and Kaur lived in the home and operated a credit repair business and a mortgage modification business. Police say the companies were nothing more than fronts for financial crime.

Consumer Credit Repair and Consumer Financial Services targeted people with bad credit or homes in the foreclosure process and promised an easy fix.

"We've found victims throughout the country," said Detective Ken Dodd of the financial crimes unit. "One victim in Oregon had also sent money in to Consumer Financial Services only to find out their home loan had not been modified and they received a default notice."

Investigators say callers from India contacted victims and convinced them to send money to an office in Fresno. This is the office -- nothing more than a mail drop box where police say the suspects picked up the cash and left their victims sinking even further into debt.

"It's terrible," Dodd said. "They face a loss of their home. They face their credit is going to be destroyed even more so."

The Better Business Bureau says this type of scheme has become more popular in the last few years as the foreclosure crisis has peaked.

Director of Business Services Cindy Dudley says desperate times often send people seeking desperate measures, and leave them vulnerable to scam artists. "When people are scared or needy, they tend not to investigate," she said. "They tend not to gather good information to make good decisions."

Financial analysts say if someone tells you they can fix your credit, they're not telling the truth. And if they say they can save your home, investigate. That can be as simple as making a phone call to the Better Business Bureau.

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