The owner of a Utah loan modification business has been charged with 9 felony counts for allegedly defrauding hundreds of desperate homeowners.
David Shawn Moffitt, 34, operated Fortified Financial, Fortified Academy and Wasatch Rent 2 Own between 2009 and 2010.
According to court documents, Moffitt charged between $2,500 to $3,000 to modify a loan so they would not lose their homes. Customers were promised a full refund if they were not satisfied.
However, Moffitt allegedly refused to give refunds to as many as 200 eligible clients money because the money was being used to pay for personal expenses, including food, rent, entertainment and even $4,000 for his wife’s plastic surgery, prosecutors charged.
“We hope these charges send a strong message to anyone seeking to take advantage of struggling homeowners,” says Attorney General Mark Shurtleff.
Company accountants found that Moffitt and his wife took $124,000 in 2009 and $72,000 in 2010 from Fortified and and other $33,000 was transferred to Wasatch Rent 2 Own during those two years. During the same time, Fortified employee paychecks started to bounce and bonuses were not paid.
A hard look
“This scam should be a warning to everyone to take a hard look at anyone before trusting them with your money and especially your home,“ said Utah Department of Commerce Executive Director Francine Giani.
After an investigation by Utah Division of Real Estate Chief Investigator Kent Nelson, Assistant Attorney General Che Arguello filed 7 second-degree felony counts of communications fraud, theft and racketeering and 2 third-degree felony counts of theft.
Investigators interviewed numerous clients victims and the charging documents include alleged victims in Vernal, St. George, Salt Lake City and Centerville.
If convicted, Moffitt could serve 1-15 years in prison for each second-degree felony and 0-5 years behind bars for each third-degree felony.
Last March, Moffitt was ordered to pay $92,000 in actual damages and $2 million in punitive damages after a civil lawsuit was filed by former clients. One of the defendants in the lawsuit, Daniel Pogue, was shot and killed by police in December 2010 after he pointed a shotgun at people outside the LDS Oquirrh Mountain Temple.