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Bench warrant issued for man behind $1M mortgage scam

Reported by: Sergio Avila
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Updated: 5/27/2013 8:44 am
LAS VEGAS (KSNV -- They were underwater on their mortgages and desperate for a life raft.

Dozens of homeowners in the valley were promised a new start but little did they know that promise would cost them nearly everything.

A grand jury just indicted eight people, but some of them are still on the loose.

Those suspects were working for the company Majestic Group which eventually became Nevada Sky. Police say the man who was running the scam is on the run.

In the grand jury transcript the attorney general's office says the scam was worth more than $1 million.

The man accused of being at the helm is Jose Benjamin Rodriguez, known as “Ben.”

Rose Loob, 80, is just one of the victims. She said she felt she was in good hands with Rodriguez.

“Every time we went in he was smooth talking, and he answered our questions and we didn't think anything was wrong," Loob said.

Loob spent about five years in her house with her family, then the economy tanked and paying the mortgage became a problem. Rodriguez promised to save her house.

By the time she realized it was a scam, it was too late and her house was in foreclosure. She had paid Rodriguez more than $16,000, and she was forced to leave.

Loob now lives in a rented house just a few miles from the home she once owned.

“I think it's awful. I'm 80 years old, so I don't know. I hope they catch him,” Loob said.

According to the grand jury transcript, Rodriguez would promise he could lower mortgage payments by using a program he called “Start New.”

Investigators say Rodriguez would tell his victims to give him their mortgage payments while he worked on their cases.

He's accused of pocketing the cash with "no evidence" he did anything.

The attorney general's office says Rodriguez's victims were mostly Hispanic and mainly Spanish-speaking home owners.

Santiago Bahena, 55 was among them.

Bahena was promised a monthly mortgage of about $500 but that deal nearly cost him his home.

“I'm diabetic; I had my blood sugar over 400 because it was so frustrating,” Bahena said. “I felt like I was going to explode. My wife was the same because we wouldn't even eat or sleep right thinking we had lost everything.”

Every month for more than a year Bahena paid the Majestic group $800 while they worked on his case. Notices of default started piling up, but Bahena says Rodriguez had him believe it was all part of the process.

“He also told me they were going to get letters from the bank, don't open them. Bring them immediately because I want to open them because they're very delicate,” Bahena said.

Bahena ended up hiring an attorney who filed for bankruptcy and saved his house 30 minutes before it was set to go on the auction block.

The state filed a cease-and-desist on Rodriguez in March 2012.

Now this indictment charges eight people with multiple felonies including mortgage fraud and theft.
Five of them have already been arrested.

Jose Benjamin Rodriguez and two others are nowhere to be found.

Bahena told News 3 that after Rodriguez found out he was being investigated he offered him a refund and made him sign a document releasing his company of liability. The refund never arrived.

Those who've been arrested are expected to be arraigned next week.

Meanwhile, Ben Rodriguez has a $500,000 bench warrant out for his arrest.



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