- The Washington Times - Friday, March 6, 2015

A California man will serve 24 years in prison after prosecutors said he preyed upon non-English speakers to scam them out of their mortgages, causing them to lose their houses.

Alan David Tikal, 46, would visit homeowners and tell them he could reduce their mortgage payments by 75 percent, according to court documents. Prosecutors said he most commonly targeted individuals who could not speak English well.

The homeowners, believing Tikal was taking charge of their housing payments, stopped sending checks for their mortgages, causing many to go into foreclosure and lose their homes.

Prosecutors said Tikal never used any of the money he collected to pay off people’s loans, but instead spent it or gave it to his family. The homeowners paid more than $5.8 million for the scam, and prosecutors said Tikal directly received more than $2.5 million of that.

Now he has been sentenced to 24 years in prison for the scam. One accomplice has already been sentenced to five years, and another — a member of Tikal’s family — is awaiting sentencing in April.

“The financial crisis that hit our communities so hard made it very difficult for a lot of people to make ends meet,” said Benjamin Wagner, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California. “Alan Tikal cynically took advantage of the desperation those people felt, for his own profit, stealing payments meant to preserve family homes. Although we cannot undo the harm Tikal inflicted, today’s sentence provides a measure of justice.”

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