SJ 'law firm' accused of mortgage fraud

May 13, 2009 6:59:53 PM PDT
Police in San Jose are investigating a business that claims to be a loan modification company but is suspected of preying on more than 100 homeowners.

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"Legal Support Services" says on its website that it is a law firm specializing in loan modifications, but police question whether it's a law firm at all.

Adam Barajas desperately wants to save his home in Fremont.

"Just hope for the best. There's not a whole lot else I can do," he lamented.

Kenneth Relloma of San Jose is less optimistic about his home.

"I better prepare myself for foreclosure," he told 7 on Your Side.

Both Bajaras and Relloma hired Legal Support Services in San Jose in hopes of rescuing themselves from foreclosure. Bajaras said he paid $3,200. Kenneth said he paid $7,500. Both also said they did not get much for their money.

"I left a message. I said this is a rip off and you're a scammer. You took my money and then I don't hear anything from you anymore," Relloma recalled.

The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office says more than 100 complaints have been received about the company. San Jose police have launched an investigation.

"It's mortgage rescue fraud. It's obviously portraying to do something or provide a service and then somehow fraudulently defrauding victims," explained Sgt. Ronnie Lopez with the San Jose Police Department.

Police say many of those who complained hired Legal Support Services thinking they were hiring an attorney.

"They had a legal team in place that was supposed to contact the bank directly, and that would assist us in the modification of our loan," said Barajas.

In fact, the company's website says it was founded by attorneys Russell Koch and Leo Kolligian. However, records from the California Bar Association show a Russell Milton Koch who is not eligible to practice law and Kolligian's license has been inactive since 2003.

Police do not know if Koch and Kolligian are victims of identity theft or knowing participants with the company. A search warrant filed by police and obtained by 7 On Your Side also indicates that Kolligian is dead.

That search warrant was served on the offices of Legal Support Services back in February. The office closed shortly after. Some people who worked down the hall from Legal Support Services say clients have come by looking for them.

"In general they would be carrying a big stack of papers and looking very troubled," said office worker Peggy Stephan. "It just seemed very sad. These folks seemed kind of desperate."

Officers also served a search warrant on the home of two people named as suspects in the warrant, Amir Rashidifar and Mary Del Vecchio, also known as Mary Revis. Police say Revis runs a website marketing herself as a model and make-up artist who also runs a legal services business when not modeling.

Information obtained from the search warrant shows police suspect Revis and Rashidifar are operating a fraudulent scheme soliciting advanced fees for foreclosure consultation and loan modification. They are also suspected of operating an unlicensed law firm, or committing an identity theft by advertising they are representing the law offices of a disbarred attorney.

"For one, it's a horrible experience, one I wouldn't wish on nobody, especially since it's a fairly large amount of money. Secondly, I feel somewhat betrayed since it was somebody we thought we could trust," said Bajaras.

No charges have been filed in this case. The DA is conducting a thorough review of the evidence before making any decision.

Efforts to contact both Rashidifar and Revis have been unsuccessful, while their website remains active.

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