Christopher Wright Fox and Curtis James Melone Loan-Mod Prosecution Does Not Surprise Blogger Who Has Dogged Them
When the California Attorney General last week announced the arrests of Christopher Wright Fox (right) and his partner Curtis James Melone for allegedly collecting more than $6 million from homeowners nationwide for loan modification services that were never performed, Moe Bedard was not surprised. "What does surprise me," Bedard reacted, "is how long it took to issue these arrest warrants when these loan modification clowns have been operating for many years now."
That was posted on Bedard's LoanSafe.org blog, which along with sister blog LoanWorkout.org has been reporting on the "rogue loan modification firm" and its owners for four years. "They were probably the largest firm and thus most likely the biggest scam to hit the loan mod industry since its inception in early 2007," Bedard informs.
The booking photos of Christopher Fox and Curtis Melone
Laguna Niguel's Fox and Huntington Beach's Melone (who also goes by Curtis Kubat), both 37, pleaded not guilty at their Orange County Superior Court arraignment last Wednesday to 37 felony counts, including conspiracy, grand theft and unlawful collection of advance fees.
A third man, disbarred Tennessee lawyer King Harris III, 42, also was charged in the case. State prosecutors were in the process of seeking his extradition to California from Missouri, where he's facing federal mail and wire fraud charges.
According to the complaint shared by Attorney General Kamala Harris, Fox and Melone operated Green Credit Solutions in Irvine, which was later renamed Guardian Credit Services and Get My Credit Grade.
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Thousands of homeowners facing foreclosure were charged $3,500 apiece in up-front fees in exchange for attorney services that weren't provided, according to prosecutors who say Green Credit lawyers did little, if anything, for clients.
"Homeowners continue to struggle throughout California and across the country to hang onto their homes, and this prosecution is another warning to predators who would seek to profit from their distress: this kind of criminal conduct will meet with swift and certain consequences," Harris told the gathered media last week.
Her office launched an investigation in June 2009 after numerous consumer complaints were filed with her office, the Better Business Bureau, the California Department of Real Estate and the State Bar of California. The probe found that from November 2008 to October 2009, Fox, Melone and Harris collected more than $6 million from thousands of homeowners across California and nationwide, according to the complaint.
Victims were allegedly told their funds would be held in a so-called "attorney escrow account" until services were completed. In fact, those fees were often deposited into the account of a disbarred attorney and then promptly transferred to Green Credit, according to the complaint.
In California, foreclosure consultants are prohibited by law from collecting money before services are performed. "Homeowners should never pay up-front fees to reduce their loans," said Harris, who advised Californians facing mortgage difficulties to instead contact a non-profit housing counselor, either through www.HUD.gov or a local non-profit housing clinic. Tips on how to avoid mortgage fraud and other resources, and to report fraud or file a complaint, are available at http://oag.ca.gov/consumers/
Read the Green Credit complaint at http://oag.ca.gov/.
"We hope that we have assisted law enforcement in their investigation," Bedard writes, "and also helped thousands of other potential victims from being defrauded by these financial thugs."
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