‘Occupy’ Group Organizes Victims of Alleged Loan Modification Scam

Spanish-speakers targeted with infomercials; attorney is facing possible disbarment.

By Gloria Angelina Castillo, EGP Staff Writer

Last year, buckling under the weight of a $3,000 monthly mortgage, East Los Angeles resident Catalina Gaitan needed help getting a loan modification. A commercial on a Spanish-language radio station lead her to the Siringoringo Law Firm, but nearly $6,000 later, Gaitan found herself in a much worse predicament.

East L.A. resident Catalina Gaitan, pictured, began paying the Siringoringo Law Firm in October 2012, the same month the attorney was charged. She met with other Siringoringo clients on Tuesday. (EGP photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo)

East L.A. resident Catalina Gaitan, pictured, began paying the Siringoringo Law Firm in October 2012, the same month the attorney was charged. She met with other Siringoringo clients on Tuesday. (EGP photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo)

She is now one of several people allegedly harmed by the law firm who is getting help from Occupy Fights Foreclosures (OFF), an organization aligned with Occupy LA.

Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: ‘Indignados’ Organizan las Presuntas Víctimas de Fraude de Modificación de Hipoteca

Gaitan says she paid Siringoringo a $1,500 up front fee and that the firm also required that she pay a $495 monthly retainer fee — in the form of a monthly automatic withdrawal from her bank account — for the work she was told would take just three months to complete. She says she was also advised by a Siringoringo representative to stop making mortgage payments.

But the loan modification never came through and according to Gaitan, eight months of automatic withdrawals by the Siringoringo law firm left her with just $4 in her bank account.

Gaitan, who only speaks Spanish, says her efforts to cancel the firm’s services were met with resistance from the firm’s billing specialist. She claims that at one point a company representative showed up at her home and tried to intimidate her into continuing the service; going so far as to allege that her home was about to be sold. That was a lie, she said, but the stress caused her diabetic husband’s health to decline, she says.

But, unlike many other distressed homeowners in her situation, Gaitan was lucky. She did not lose the three-bedroom home she’d already spent 10 years paying for and where she raised her three children.

Gaitan’s case is just one of several cases that have prompted authorities to take legal action against thirty-one-year-old Stephen Lyster Siringoringo —of Siringoringo Law Firm, a.k.a. the Law Offices of Stephen L. Siringoringo.

In other cases, Siringoringo allegedly never filed clients’ paperwork, documents were lost and representatives never returned clients’ phone calls. One client paid the firm almost $5,000 but was forced to file for bankruptcy because the loan modification paperwork was not submitted in a timely manner. Another Spanish-speaking client was advised to stop making mortgage payments in order to be approved for a loan modification, which resulted in the initiation of foreclosure proceedings.

All the cases appear to have one thing in common: the clients never met or spoke with Siringoringo himself.

Last year, the State Bar of California, the authority that gives attorneys the right to practice law in the state, charged Siringoringo with 25 counts of misconduct for allegedly taking advanced fees, which is prohibited under SB 94, and for working in partnership with non-lawyers in a loan modification scheme.

Many of Siringoringo’s clients are Latinos who responded to advertisements and infomercials run on Spanish-language television and radio outlets. The firm has several locations in Southern California.

Siringoringo is now facing the possibility of disbarment.

His license to practice law was suspended last month because his conduct posed a “substantial threat of harm to the interests of the attorney’s clients or to the public,” according to court documents (July 26th Decision and Order of Inactive Enrollment).

On Aug. 16, the State Bar Court wrapped up its trial against Siringoringo and State Bar Court Judge Richard Honn is expected to issue a decision on possible disciplinary action by Nov. 22, according to Public Information Officer Amy Yarbrough.

In addition to allegedly illegally collecting up front fees, Siringoringo is accused of failing to give refunds for unearned fees and for allowing his supposed non-lawyer partners, Clausen & Cobb Management, Inc. (CCMI) — whose employees allegedly operated independently — to offer legal services under his name in exchange for a share of the legal fees it brought in.

Clients of Siringoringo met with CCMI employees without Siringoringo’s supervision and clients were led to believe that Siringoringo was their lawyer, according to State Bar documents.

Siringoringo, however, denies “each and every allegation” as well as charges that he violated any Rule of Professional Conduct.

In a statement emailed from Siringoringo’s firm to EGP Wednesday, Siringoringo expressed disappointment in the State Bar’s decision to transfer him into Involuntary Inactive status. The firm claims it’s an issue of managerial structure, rather than quality of work performed.

“We take great pride in the work we have been able to provide to our clients. We have successfully obtained loan modifications for over 4, 600 clients and we hope to continue with this success in the near future,” the email states. “… The decision of the California State Bar was based purely on the current business model of the firm and not on the quality of work performed by the firm or the adequacy of service provided to our clients.” It goes on to state that they “hope to reevaluate this model and petition the court for the re-enrollment of Mr. Siringoringo as an active member of the State Bar of California.”

According to Yarbrough, the State Bar has plans to file a second case against Siringoringo.

“I can’t give you a total number of complaints that have been filed but there are 34 clients named between the cases,” Yarbrough told EGP.

The California Supreme Court, which oversees the State Bar, will have to approve the bar’s disciplinary recommendations for them to take effect, Yarbrough said.

Occupy Fights for Foreclosures estimates that at least 70 complaints have been filed with the State Bar. The Occupy group has been helping former Siringoringo clients by connecting them to free legal help and assistance in seeking compensation from the State Bar through the Client Security Fund program.

Carlos Marroquin, of Occupy Fights for Foreclosures, says the group has held three highly attended, standing room only, meetings so far.

“People gave everything in order to save their homes—these were people who live paycheck to paycheck,” Marroquin said about the former Siringoringo clients who have been attending their meetings.

Occupy Fights for Foreclosures is calling on Attorney General Kamala Harris to conduct a criminal investigation and to prosecute the Siringoringo Law Firm. They also want the attorney general to declare an immediate moratorium on all foreclosures of families defrauded by Siringoringo, Marroquin told EGP on Monday.

The group and its supporters also plan to protest at the State Bar to demand that Siringoringo not get back his law license. He neglected his moral responsibilities as a lawyer when he aided the unauthorized practice of law in his name, Marroquin said.

For information on the Occupy Fights Foreclosures meetings, call (323) 696-0596.

The California State Bar Attorney Complaint Hotline is (800) 843-9053. Information from The State Bar of California client security fund can be obtained at www.calbar.ca.gov/Attorneys/LawyerRegulation/.

 
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August 22, 2013  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

Comments

8 Responses to “‘Occupy’ Group Organizes Victims of Alleged Loan Modification Scam”

  1. ‘Occupy’ Group Organizes Victims of Alleged Loan Modification Scam « Lead MLS on August 22nd, 2013 1:31 pm

    [...]  Print This Post [...]

  2. Monica on August 23rd, 2013 3:10 pm

    , le mando este email para pedirle que por favor no olviden el Caso de las modificaciones fraude que Hizo Stephen Siringoringo a clients de duenos de Casa.

    Antes que nada me gustaria informarles que el "abogado" Siringoringo continua haciendo modificaciones Pero ahora bajo otros 2 abogados: Jenna L Griffin, (bar # 285957 ) abogada que recien paso el examen de barra de abogados en Diciembre del 2012 y Daniel Peri Lucid, ( bar # 101068) un abogado bien reconocido y con 30 anios de experiencia. Cercano para retirarse y disfruar Los "millones" que este negocito le puede dar. Si, en verdad son millones lo que se pueden llevar en 2 – 3 anios.

    Siringoringo y sus socios Josh Cobb (principal inversionista) y Alfred Clausen ( Profugo de la ley y no authorizado para tener ningun vinculo con modificaciones bajo un "cease and desist" dado por el departamento de Real Estate en 2010 dado a fraudes realizados en Liberty Law Firm bajo un abogado llamado Colombano), Han Ganado millones y millones desde que Estos tres individuos empezaron Siringoringo Law Firm y Clausen & Cobb Management Company en Enero del 2011. Me atrevo a decir que fueron mas de 60 millones de dolares.

    Ni Stephen Siringoringo ni sus 2 socios Clausen y Cobb van a dejar esta "minita de oro" tan facilmente. ES pr eso que dejaron sus officinas de procesamiento en Rancho Cucamonga ( propiedad de Josh Cobb ) y se cambiaron hace 2 semanas a 150 west 2nd Ave en Upland ( propiedad de Josh Cobb y su papa ) junto con sus nuevos abogados/socios Griffin y Lucid. Inclusive se llevaron a Los Mismos procesadores/negociadores, case managers y supervisores que trabajaban con Siringoringo Law Firm, asi mismo a la persona de recursos humanos, Jane Faulkner ( ex agente del FBI) y a la contadora de todas sus empresas, Tracy Writes. La unica gran diferencia es que el contrato dice que no van a realizar modificaciones sino a litigar/demandar a Los bancos. Se les cobra deposito para…

  3. Sylvia on September 20th, 2013 3:18 am

    Thank God he is caught…

  4. Sylvia on September 20th, 2013 3:27 am

    I have read all that I can about this attorney…he met these men clausen and Cobb in Las Vegas and he knew of them and what they do because the two men had did it before…so sirringoringo knew what he was doing with these men,,,,but in his statement he says he’s done nothing wrong…bull****…we were 1 day away from loosing our home and its because he’s so called firm dropped the ball but yet got $6000 from us…I have been waiting for a movement on what he has been doing…..HE WILL NOT GET HE’S LICENSE BACK…..my husband stressed out about this so much I thought he would have a heart attack and its all because of this firm….we did not know it was against the law to pay an attorney….people trust that lawyers know what their doing so you pay them but to keep taking money out when nothing is been done is so wrong……all we wanted was a modification to help us with are home…

  5. ken graser on September 26th, 2013 8:28 am

    I USED SIRINGORINGO FOR MY MODIFICATION, ARLENE (MY CLIENT INTAKE OFFICIAL) TOLD ME, “IT’S A MONEY BACK GUARANTEE” “JUST SIGN THE PAPERWORK WHERE HIGHLIGHTED, WE WILL FILL IN THE REST” THEN GABBY MY SO CALLED “SERVICER” ONLY SERVICED MY BANK ACCOUNT, AND TOOK PAYMENTS BEFORE THE ASSIGNED DATE THEREFORE OVER DRAFTING MY ACCOUNTS AND CAUSING THE REPO OF MY NEW CAR DUE TO NON SUFFICIENT FUNDS TO MANY TIMES IN A ROW , THEY DRAFTED PAYMENT FROM MY ACCT. A WEEK EARLY. NEEDLESS TO SAY WHEN MY MOD WAS DENIED BY B OF A, I RECEIVED NO EXPLANATION OR REASON WHY. ALL SHE SAID WAS GIVE US A THOUSAND MORE AND WE WILL FILE A BK. I REPLIED WHAT ABOUT MY MONEY BACK GUARANTEE, USE SOME OF THAT MONEY I SAID. HER REPLY WAS , “I HAVE A MORE IMPORTANT CLIENT TO TAKE CARE OF AT THIS TIME, WE WILL CALL YOU BACK.. NOT!!!!

  6. Nena on September 30th, 2013 11:13 pm

    I have recently hired Lucid, Dan. I am shocked to hear he is also connected with this scam by Siringoringo. I was also defrauded by him and I have made a complaint with the state bar association. All of the complaints read above are my own and some. They charged me before the due date and well after they knew I have been denied for ‘not submitting documentation’

    So now that I know Lucid is involved what am I now going to do? They also took $2,000 advanced fee, but they unlike siringoringo, are suing the bank, and also collecting $495.00 per month. I spoke to one of the persons in charged of my file last week and she said, “there is no news there. we got too many cases to handle and yours is not one of them now.” In the mean time, while I am waiting for them to ‘work on my case’ I am paying their $495.00 monthly fees! Monica. Thank you for enlighten me. Como se entero de tanta informacion? Me siento una estupida por haber caido en otra trampa de personas sin escrupulos hambrientos de dinero. Gracias nuevamente Monica.

  7. Julio Ramos on January 2nd, 2014 3:12 pm

    Spanish

  8. Julio Ramos on January 2nd, 2014 3:19 pm

    Yo tuve una modification con siringolingo en, su oficina y no me audio end nada solo me Quito Eldorado que fuel casino 5000.00.

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