Existing Central Courthouse in downtown San Diego. Photo by Chris Stone

A San Diego businessman was sentenced Monday to nine months in federal prison for his role in a fraudulent mortgage loan modification business that duped hundreds of struggling homeowners.

Michael Nazarinia, 41, worked at Haffar & Associates, which recruited customers using telemarketers who lied to clients to induce more than 1,000 people to sign up and pay more than $3.5 million, prosecutors said.

Nazarinia admitted that Haffar & Associates did not have anything close to a 98 percent success rate in obtaining loan modifications for their clients, as telemarketers for the company claimed.

According to prosecutors, the business did not have sufficient staff experienced enough to successfully complete loan modifications.

For his part, Nazarinia generated a fraudulent lease agreement, which was used to delay eviction after Haffar & Associates failed to negotiate a modification for the client. Nazarinia also admitted filing a false 2010 income tax return, omitting nearly $100,000 in illegal income from Haffar & Associates.

Mohamed Haffar, an attorney, pleaded guilty to tax charges and admitted that he had no existing knowledge or experience in loan modifications when he started his business in 2008.

He was formally disbarred in 2012 and obligated to pay more than $192,000 to reimburse former clients. Haffar also pleaded guilty to a criminal charge in 2014 and was sentenced to three months in prison.

–City News Service

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