Siringoringo And Two Associates Charged With 47 Counts In $44M Fraud

(March 12) The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office has filed charges against attorney Stephen Siringoringo and two of his associates in connection with what has been described as a “major loan modification fraud scheme.” He has been arrested and is being held in lieu of bail of more than $17 million.
The complaint alleges 23 felony counts of grand theft of personal property and taking upfront fees for loan modifications in addition to 24 counts of money laundering.
The activity by Siringoringo, Joshua Cobb and Alfred Clausen, according to the district attorney’s office, “resulted in the loss of over 44 million dollars by unsuspecting victims.
On March 5, investigators from the real estate fraud prosecution unit of the San Bernardino District Attorney’s Office arrested Stephen Lyster Siringoringo, 34, of Westminster, and 32-year-old Joshua Michael Cobb.
Both suspects allegedly took large sums of money from victims who were seeking loan modifications. A third suspect, Alfred Orn Clausen, 41, of Rancho Cucamonga, is still at large and is suspected of leaving the country.
According to district attorney office investigators, the vehicle for the criminal activity was the Siringoringo Law Firm, which had engaged in energetic advertisement on local radio and television. The law firm advertised extensively in Spanish language media.
Siringoringo, a 1999 Fontana High School graduate, seemingly made good by becoming an attorney specializing in modification services for clients facing foreclosures during the height of the home mortgage meltdown five years ago. But despite representing that he was a top flight attorney, Siringoringo rarely, if ever, delivered.
He and his firm took money up front from clients, maintaining action could not be taken if there were no funds to work with. The firm typically asked for $3,995 to initiate work and would bill clients $135 each month thereafter. When employees were pressed by clients about what action had been taken, they would be met with claims that the process required time to mature. Delays of eight, ten, 12, 14 and 16 months before informing clients that their loan modifications had been denied were common. Subsequently, clients were told that another method for obtaining a modification was in the works. Few, if any, of the sought modifications were ever achieved.
Victims were promised that their loan modifications would be handled by a licensed attorney. Instead, they were handed off to a non-attorney representatives. Many of the victims never met or spoke with Siringoringo.
In December 2013, the California Bar Association found Siringoringo culpable of collecting advanced fees for loan modification work in 20 client matters and recommended an 18-month suspension. In partial mitigation Siringoringo agreed to provide refunds ranging from $1,500 to $5,970 to 14 former clients named in the stipulation. On October 15, 2014 Siringoringo and the State Bar agreed to a stipulation which ratcheted that December 2013 discipline up to the level of disbarment.
Losing his license to practice law mollified some, though not all of the hundreds of former clients who claim Siringoringo took advantage of them, took their money, allowed their homes to be taken from them and then provided them with no accounting or records to assist them in the aftermath.
According to the State Bar, Siringoringo visited upon his clients significant harm by failing to provide promised services to them and aided in the unauthorized practice of law by others when he allowed non-attorney employees to meet with clients, set fees and perform legal services without supervision.
The State Bar’s Office of Chief Trial Counsel indicated it has received 796 additional complaints regarding alleged misconduct by Siringoringo. Those clients may be eligible for reimbursement by the State Bar’s Client Security Fund.
In San Bernardino County, Siringoringo and Cobb are scheduled for a pre-preliminary conference March 13, 2015. Deputy district attorney Vance Welch is prosecuting the case.
If convicted as charged, the defendants face in excess of thirty years in state prison.
Bail is currently set at $17,837,000 each for Siringoringo and Cobb.

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