A man was arraigned yesterday for impersonating an attorney and defrauding several clients through debt consolidation and mortgage modification schemes. James Frank Barker, 57, Newport Beach was charged on April 5, 2017, with the following felony counts:
- (8) Money laundering
- (3) Grand theft
- Aggravated white collar crime over $100,000
- Property damage/loss over $65,000
- Property loss over $200,000
He faces 11 years and eight months in state prison. Pre-trial is scheduled for May 25, 2017, at 8:30 a.m. in Department C-55, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
Circumstances of the Case:
Between December 2013 and July 2015, Barker is accused of posing as an attorney under several different aliases and law firm names. Barker is accused of soliciting clients by promising to consolidate outstanding debts and/or reduce mortgage payments through loan modifications.
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.
Barker is accused of refusing to refund his clients and laundering the money at a JPMorgan Chase bank.
On Dec. 7, 2015, the Orange County District Attorney’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.
Newport Beach Police Department arrested Barker on May 15, 2017.
The OCDA warns the public to beware of mortgage modification schemes. Section 2944.7 of the California Civil Code makes it 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), stated: “HUD-OIG will continue to vigilantly protect Federal Housing Administration insured borrowers from those who conduct mortgage fraud and loan modification schemes.”
This case is being prosecuted by Senior Deputy District Attorney Peter Pierce, Major Fraud Unit.
This article was released by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.