Crime - Sacto 911

Former Roseville resident headed to prison for role in foreclosure rescue scam

A former Roseville resident has been sentenced for his role in a loan modification and foreclosure rescue scheme that targeted members of the Spanish-speaking community.

Martin Wayne Flanders was sentenced Thursday in Sacramento by U.S. District Court Judge Troy L. Nunley to six years and five months in prison, according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office news release.

Flanders and his wife, Ligia Sandoval Spafford, 48, of Roseville, pleaded guilty to mail fraud for their participation in the fraud scheme.

According to court documents, between 2008 and 2010, Flanders charged clients advance fees in exchange for a number of financial services, including loan modifications, mortgage loan audits, credit repair, debt relief, bankruptcy filing and a program to sell homes to “investors” with a rent-to-own option.

Flanders and Sandoval marketed these services to economically distressed homeowners, particularly targeting those who were Spanish speakers, authorities said. Sandoval speaks Spanish, but Flanders does not.

Sandoval promoted the services during a radio program aired twice weekly by a Bay Area Spanish-language Christian radio station, Radio Luz. Authorities said she also advertised on Spanish-language television station Univision and in Spanish-language magazines. About 98 percent of the defendants’ clients were of Hispanic descent, and some spoke little or no English, authorities said.

Flanders and Sandoval made numerous false statements to investors as to the success of the programs offered or the refunds that would be available if the programs were not successful. The couple also used “Ghost offers” – fictitious offers to purchase the victim’s property through short sale – and “skeleton bankruptcies” – sham bankruptcy petitions that were quickly dismissed by the bankruptcy court, authorities said.

At least 25 to 30 individuals paid for services and did not receive them, or did not receive refunds when the programs failed to deliver as promised. The total loss to the victims was at least $125,000, authorities said, and some homeowners who were not able to obtain relief were foreclosed upon by their lenders.

Flanders has been detained since his arrest in October 2012, according to the news release.

Sandoval is currently out of custody and is to be sentenced by Judge Nunley on March 3.

The case resulted from an FBI investigation.

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy