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Man sentenced for scheme that defrauded more than 70 Wisconsin homeowners

MADISON (CBS 58) -- A 56-year-old man has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for a mortgage rescue scheme that defrauded more than 70 Wisconsin Homeowners. 

According to the United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, between 2014 and 2019, Aston Wood defrauded homeowners out of approximately $390,000. Many homeowners lost their homes because of the scheme. 

Wood solicited people facing the possibility of foreclosure and told them he could help them stay in their home by obtaining loan refinancing or modification. He told customers that to stop foreclosures, they needed to immediately start making mortgage payments towards a new loan as part of a trial period while he worked out the details of the loan with the mortgage lenders. He told customers to make the payments to businesses he controlled under the premise that he would send the payments to their mortgage lenders, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin. 

Wood collected payments from homeowners for months, some even years. Instead of sending the money to the mortgage lenders, he spent the money on himself. 

"When customers eventually lost their homes in foreclosure, Wood told them that it was due to the mortgage lenders' greed or negligence," said a press release from the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, "Wood defrauded some homeowners out of additional money even after they lost their homes by falsely telling them that he would use the money to help them buy back their foreclosed property or use the money to sue the mortgage companies."

The U.S. Department of Treasury and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said people should follow these tips to avoid being a victim of mortgage fraud schemes:

-- Beware of anyone seeking to charge you in advance for mortgage modification services. In most cases, charging fees in advance of a mortgage modification is illegal.

-- Only your mortgage company has the discretion to grant a loan modification. Therefore, no third party can guarantee or pre-approve your mortgage modification application.

-- Beware of individuals and companies claiming that your payments should be sent to an alternate contact or address that is different from the information in your mortgage statement.

-- Beware of individuals or companies that offer money-back guarantees or insist on upfront fees and can only accept payment by cash, cashier's check, or wire transfer.

-- Beware of private individuals claiming to be affiliated with government-backed refinancing programs.


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