Even though the website and operations of a California foreclosure scam have been shut down for nearly a year and the perpetrator of the fraud will be spending a year in jail, one more innocent victim of the scam is still fending off legal notices, hearings and collections notices from lawyers. Why? Because when Nicolas Moscouplos of Sacramento set up his website to elicit information and, ultimately, up-front payments for foreclosure help that was never rendered from homeowners in distress, he used loan auditor Mohamed Salem’s identity to do so. And when things went south, lawsuits against Moscouplos and his service were filed across the state, also in Salem’s name.
Although the website, designed to help residents fend off foreclosure actions, has been long defunct at this point and Moscouplos is actually sitting in a cell, Salem is still hearing from court clerks and lawyers demanding payments, complaining about his failure to file documents in a timely fashion and even threatening legal action. Salem did not even know that there was a foreclosure scam being carried out using his name until he started receiving letters from lawyers suing on behalf of clients of the foreclosure defense system who had not received the services that they had paid for. Investigators identified “at least 12 victims” and the perpetrator of the fraud was caught, tried and sentenced to a year in jail and payment of $35,000 in restitution to the people that he conned.
Salem, however, is still dealing with the fallout as well. “This guy filed lawsuits all over the state with my name attached,” he explained. “But I’m fine.” Salem has opted not to seek restitution from Moscouplos himself because his main loss has been time. The semi-retired loan auditor has been dealing with his legal issues largely on his own since he is a member of the state bar, which probably helped the fake foreclosure scam artist seem more credible if homeowners tried to do any type of research on him ahead of time. They would actually have been investigating Salem, who has great credentials!
This particular case serves to emphasize not just how important it is to never pay for foreclosure defense services up front, but also that you must monitor your own credit and identity in order to fully protect yourself in today’s “flexible” virtual world.