The Orange County, California District Attorney’s Office announced this week that a Newport Beach man was arraigned on various felonies for impersonating a lawyer without a license and defrauding several clients through a loan modification and debt consolidation scam.
The defendant, James Frank Barker, was charged on April 5, 2017, with money laundering and grand theft involving an aggravated white collar crime of over $100,000, property damage/loss at over $65,000, and property loss over $200,000. He was arrested by the Newport Beach Police Department on May 15, 2017.
The Orange County DA’s office said that between November 2013 and July 2015, Barker had solicited clients by promising to consolidate outstanding debts and/or reduce mortgage payments through loan modifications while he illegally posed as an attorney. He used several different aliases and law firm names to hide the tracks of his crimes.
Between November 2013 and July 2015, the defendant is accused of collecting $20,960 from his clients, John Doe 1 and Jane Doe 1, $3,000 from John Doe 2 and Jane Doe 2, and $21,640 from John Doe 3 and Jane Doe 3. The defendant is further accused of never notifying his clients’ debtors of his representation, never attempting to negotiate any debts on behalf of his clients, and never submitting any mortgage assistance applications on behalf of his clients.
On Dec. 7, 2015, the DA’s Office (OCDA) received a tip from an attorney in Orange County who represented two of Barker’s victims. OCDA investigated this case and discovered that Barker has never been a licensed member of the State Bar of California.
Barker is accused of refusing to refund his clients and laundering the money at a JPMorgan Chase bank.
The Orange County, California District Attorney’s Office warns the public about loan modification scams. Under Section 2944.7 of the California Civil Code, it is unlawful for any person who offers to perform a mortgage loan modification to “claim, demand, charge, collect or receive any compensation until after the person has fully performed each and every service the person was contracted to perform or represented that he or she would perform.”
James Todak, Special Agent with the Housing and Urban Development’s Office of the Inspector General (HUD-OIG), said, “HUD-OIG will continue to vigilantly protect Federal Housing Administration insured borrowers from those who conduct mortgage fraud and loan modification schemes.”
Barker is scheduled to appear in court on May 25, 2017, at 8:30 a.m. in Department C-55, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana. He faces 11 years and eight months in prison.