SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) — Three people face charges for their role in an alleged fraud scheme by using the Internet to target struggling homeowners in Northern California.
Ronald Cupp, 58, of Santa Rosa, Randall Heyden, 69, of San Rafael and Angelle Wertz, 38, also of Santa Rosa were arrested last week on 57 charges including theft, forgery, notary fraud and recording of false documents, Attorney General Kamala Harris announced on Monday.
The three are accused of luring the homeowners through six websites, including "wekillyourmortgage.com" and collected thousands of dollars in upfront fees ranging from $1,000 to $10,000.
The scam ran through Cupp's mortgage company — North Bay Trust Services — the three created fraudulent documents that only delayed a homeowner's foreclosure, but did not satisfy the preexisting mortgage debt to the original lender.
"Vulnerable California homeowners thought they were working to save their homes but were actually the victims of a fraudulent scheme," Harris said in a statement. "Today, it's not enough to dismantle the brick-and-mortar aspect of a criminal operation; we need to shut down criminal operations in cyberspace as well."
Prosecutors in Marin and Sonoma counties received a tip about the scam, said Nick Pacillo, a spokesman at the AG's office. It is not known how many people have been victimized as state prosecutors are hoping more will come forward.
Cupp, Heyden and Wertz did not enter pleas during their appearance in Sonoma County Superior Court on Monday. Cupp and Heyden are being held in the Sonoma County jail on $500,000 and $75,000 bail, respectively. They are due back in court for a bail review on Thursday.
Wertz has been released on her own recognizance.
Their lawyers could not be reached for comment on Monday.