Article Courtesy of The Palm
December 30, 2014
A South Florida man used “spoofing” and pretended to
be a federal official to convince homeowners nationwide to send him
their mortgage payments instead of their lenders, federal prosecutors
Jonathan L. Herbert, of Lighthouse Point, pleaded guilty last week to
one count of wire fraud in the scam, which has been going on since at
least February 2011.
According to court records, Herbert would call homeowners pretending to
be a government official with news that they were eligible for a loan
modification and mortgage assistance. To prove his veracity, Herbert
said the homeowner would get a call from his or her lender
substantiating the legitimacy of the modification and that they would
know it was their lender from their caller ID.
Homeowners would see their lender’s number, but prosecutors said Herbert
used a technology known as “spoofing” that allows a caller to change the
number that appears on the call recipient’s caller ID.
“During the second phone calls, the phony lender representative falsely
told the victim that defendant’s program was legitimate and that his or
her mortgage payments would be reduced,” court records say. “The phony
lender representative also told the victim to ignore any further
communications from the lender, such as warnings about delinquency or
Homeowners were told to send their mortgage payments to addresses in
Washington, D.C., which turned out to be UPS stores that had the mail
forwarded to Herbert in Florida.
Prosecutors said Herbert pocketed about $750,000 in the scheme. He is
scheduled for sentencing March 27 and faces up to 30 years in prison.
The case is being tried by the United States District Court for the
Southern District of Illinois.
“The criminal conduct involved in this case is truly despicable,” said
United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois Stephen
Wigginton. “Herbert preyed upon people who were already vulnerable due
to financial hardship. By pretending that he was acting on behalf of the
government and calling to help them, he stole their money and made their