Master Builders for Christ and Vision Builders Christian Center, along with three of its principals, have been charged in a 21-count indictment in Delaware, on charges of running a massive mortgage rescue scam.
Warrants have been issued for the arrest of Jamaar Manlove, Larry Manlove, and Rhonda Manlove, and racketeering liens have been placed on their assets. Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden says the case is believed to be one of the largest mortgage rescue fraud indictments in the state's history.
The indictment alleges that Jamaar Manlove ran a criminal enterprise involving theft, money laundering, and forgery in which he preyed on vulnerable homeowners who faced imminent foreclosure.
In these scams, struggling homeowners are convinced to sell their homes to third parties to avoid foreclosure, based on the false promise that they can repurchase their homes through a complex sale/lease-back arrangement when their financial situations improve. In reality, this never happens.
Instead, these schemes impose huge hidden fees that take thousands of dollars of equity away from homeowners, and they ultimately lose their homes, unable to obtain financing to repurchase their home.
It's not clear what role the organizations played in the alleged scheme, but both are described as Christian real estate operations. In the past, many so-called "affinity scams" have taken advantage of the victims' and perpetrator's shared beliefs to generate trust, trust that ultimately proves to be misplaced.
"Those who take advantage of vulnerable homeowners under extreme financial duress or facing foreclosure should be on notice," Biden said. "We will track you down, prosecute you, and put you behind bars."
The indictment follows a 10-month investigation by the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Unit and includes charges of criminal racketeering, conspiracy, money laundering, felony theft, forgery, and failure to file taxes. If convicted on all counts each defendant faces a minimum of two years in prison. Jamaar Manlove faces a maximum of 83 years in prison if convicted on all counts.
Biden said the case is the direct result of the collaborative work of the Delaware Attorney General's Mortgage Fraud Task Force, which was formed in June 2009 to reduce foreclosures and foreclosure-related fraud statewide.