A Rio Vista woman has been sentenced to more than three years in prison for her role in a foreclosure rescue scam orchestrated by her husband.
U.S. District Judge Troy L. Nunley on Thursday sentenced Tamara Tikal, 45, to three years and nine months in prison for conspiring to commit mail fraud in relation to the foreclosure scam, according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office news release. She also was ordered to pay $3,671,000 in restitution to victims of the scam.
Tamara Tikal’s husband, Alan Tikal, was convicted following a bench trial and sentenced to 24 years in prison. Tamara Tikal pleaded guilty to the conspiracy in August, as did co-defendant Ray Kornfeld, who was sentenced to five years in prison.
According to Tamara Tikal’s plea agreement, between January 2010 and August 2013, Alan Tikal was the principal behind a business known as KATN, which targeted homeowners having difficulties making their monthly mortgage payments. Many of the victims did not speak English. Alan Tikal promised to reduce their outstanding mortgage debt by 75 percent, falsely claiming that he was a registered private banker with access to an enormous line of credit and had the ability to pay off homeowners’ mortgage debts in full.
Homeowners were told that, in return for various fees and payments, their existing obligations would be extinguished, and they would then owe new loans to Tikal in an amount equaling 25 percent of the original obligation. Relying on these misrepresentations, many of the homeowners stopped making payments on their existing mortgage loans and lost their homes to foreclosure as a result, authorities said.
Tamara Tikal filled a variety of roles in the business, including paying the salaries of various employees, serving as a notary for various documents used in furthering the scheme, and opening and maintaining post-office boxes and bank accounts that received homeowner payments. She also communicated with individual homeowners, assuring them of the legitimacy of the program.
Authorities said the Tikals made no payments to financial institutions on behalf of homeowners to satisfy their pre-existing mortgage debt obligations. Instead, the money for the purported loan payments was spent by the Tikals and their associates for personal use. In all, more than 1,000 homeowners in California and other states were persuaded to participate in the program. Those homeowners paid more than $5.8 million in fees and monthly payments into the program, and of that amount, more than $2.5 million was paid into accounts controlled by the Tikals, authorities said.
The case was a joint prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California and the California Attorney General’s Office.