Fresno foreclosure scam exposed by Action News leads to punishment

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Accused of ruining dozens of lives, a foreclosure relief scammer exposed by Action News faces punishment, and her victims tell us what they've lost. Several people trying to save their homes during the recession ended up losing them while Vickie Fuentes got rich at their expense.

The simple three-bedroom, one-bath home in Southeast Fresno may not look like much, but to Sandra Singh, it meant everything. Her mother willed the home to her and Sandra and her husband made it theirs -- until they hit tough times and met Fuentes.
"We got a loan on it to fix it up and that's when my husband got laid off and that's when Vickie came into the picture and I thought we were saved," Singh said.

About 9 months and $10,000 into their relationship with Vickie Fuentes, Sandra Singh and her husband got evicted from this house where Sandra's family had lived for 55 years. Fuentes paid for the couple to stay in a hotel for two nights, then stopped returning calls. The Singhs were homeless, but even worse, decades of happy memories disappeared, overshadowed now by pain and shame.

"I can't even go by the neighborhood with my wife in the car," said Raul Singh.

"I cry," Sandra Singh added. "I can't go back."

"It's too hard for her," said her husband.

33 families reported getting scammed by Fuentes. Investigators at the Fresno County district attorney's office say she targeted distressed homeowners, promising to cut interest rates or even loan amounts. But in reality, she did little or no work. Fuentes also required an upfront fee, which is illegal.

"She guaranteed us that we would get the loan," said Gloria Moreno. "If not, we would get every penny back. So then she asked us for $1500. These are the checks that she cashed and she cashed them right away."

Moreno says an employer pointed her in Fuentes' direction. She describes what followed as a con job. Fuentes earned her trust by discussing her Christian faith and collected $1,900 within ten days. But Moreno and her husband grew suspicious after only about a month.

"My daughter looked it up on the computer and found out that she was a fraud, and I just broke down crying," she said.

Moreno is one of the lucky ones. Her family fell almost four mortgage payments behind, but scratched and scraped to save the home. Three years later, a judge has now sentenced Fuentes to pay almost $160,000 in restitution and spend five years in jail. Her victims say they don't expect to see a dime, but they're glad to see the judge foreclose on Fuentes' freedom.

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