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A 37-year-old Yorba Linda man made his initial court appearance for his alleged involvement in a loan modification scam that targeted California-based Spanish-speaking victims.

Carlos Jose Centeno appeared in court on allegations of being the ringleader of a $390,000 scheme involving loan modification companies Foreclosure Prevention Department and Orange-based Debt Settlers of America. Centeno, who was arrested New Year’s Day, had his arraignment postponed until Wednesday, January 14. At that time a judge will review his $390,000 bail.

Loan Modification Scheme

Centeno, along with four other defendants, has been accused of stealing from almost two dozen victims who believed the defendants to be helping them renegotiate their home loans, during the time period between the end of 2009 through 2012.

The other four defendants have not been taken into custody. It is illegal to charge up-front fees for loan modification services.

Charges Against Centeno

Centeno faces 121 felony counts. The counts include conspiracy and grand theft, involving the company's Foreclosure Prevention Department and Orange-based Debt Settlers of America. Centeno is the registered owner of Foreclosure Prevention Department and is a “principal” executive in Debt Settlers of America. According to Deputy District Attorney Pete Pierce, Foreclosure Prevention Department has a listed address in Irvine that is just a post office box. The grand theft charges have been brought because investigators allege Centeno had no intention to provide any services at all.

4 Other Defendants in Loan Modification Scheme

The four co-defendants include Centeno’s brother, Rick Centeno, and wife, Lizeth Arzate. Additionally, co-defendants Susie Rabadan and Hector Valdivia worked for Debt Settlers. They are considered lesser players in the alleged loan modification scams.

Source: The Orange County Register, Yorba Linda man accused in loan modification fraud, January 5, 2015

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