Thursday, January 27, 2022

OC executive arrested on charges of student loan scheme

Santa Ana, Calif.—The owner of an Orange County business was behind bars Tuesday in what California Attorney General Rob Bonta called “a nationwide, multi-year, multi-million-dollar student loan debt relief scam.” “

Angela Catherine Mirabella, 47, was being held without bail and was due to appear in the prison courtroom in Santa Ana on Wednesday, according to prison records.

She was one of seven people charged with a variety of charges, including conspiracy to commit major theft and unauthorized use of personal identification information in a scheme that prosecutors say has led to an estimated 19,000 nationwide More than $6 million was raised from the victims, including 3,000 in California.

Mirabella is the founder of the Huntington Beach-based Mirabella Group LLC, as well as Student Renew LLC and My Financial Solutions, both Newport Beach, according to a grand jury indictment.

Bonta said the alleged plan involved multiple call centers that “deceived” student loan holders with promises of debt relief for a total of $1,000 in fees paid monthly.

“They were duped, they were duped,” Bonta said.

“For some people, their dreams have become terrifying nightmares,” Bonta said.

The alleged victims paid fees to get debt relief, but they received no help and instead often ended up with high student loan interest, defaults and late notices, Bonta said.

Prosecutors said the defendants allegedly stole about $6.1 million.

Prosecutors said student loan holders assumed their debt was now being handled by companies and that the fees they paid went toward the loan.

The alleged scheme operated between 2017 and 2020, Bonta said.

The call centers reached approximately 380,000 student loan holders.

“Teachers, nurses, single parents — people from every walk of life,” Bonta said. “They pretended to be associated with the US Department of Education and made false guarantees that they could reduce student loan payments.”

When some student loan holders became “suspicious,” callers would apply “pressure and fake deadlines and that meant there was no other way to get loan forgiveness,” Bonta said.

In some cases, defendants will extract personally identifiable information to change the terms of their student aid without the victim’s consent, Bonta said.

Applying for student loan relief through various legitimate government programs costs nothing, Bonta said.

“If you are being accused of any of this, you may be the victim of a scam and we want to hear from you,” Bonta said.

Many of the victims were unaware that they had been cheated because they had not received late payment notices due to relief programs during the pandemic.

Other defendants include Cesar Sandoval-Vilchis, 35, Stephen Alan Gamboa, 39, Briana Nacole Graham, 35, Matthew Bruce Walsh, 27, Teresa Marie Lovato, 45, and Paulina Francine Pacheco, 32.

Gamboa pleaded not guilty on Thursday and was ordered to return to court on October 15 for a pre-trial hearing at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.

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This News Originally From – The Epoch Times

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