A Brentwood man who scammed more than $5.8 million from more than 1,000 homeowners in Stanislaus County and elsewhere was convicted Monday in Sacramento after a one-day trial in federal court and faces a 30-year prison term.
Alan David Tikal’s phony foreclosure rescue scheme initially was unveiled by the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office real estate fraud unit and The Modesto Bee, whose 2011 review of property records indicated that 20 local families had been duped.
Tikal eventually was prosecuted and convicted in Alameda County but continued to prey on others from his jail cell, including two more Stanislaus County families desperate to save their homes from foreclosure, a subsequent Bee review found in late 2011.
By that time, federal authorities were onto Tikal, 46, and they arrested him again a few months later, leading to Monday’s conviction on 11 counts of mail fraud and one of money laundering.
“Alan Tikal cynically took advantage of their desperation for his own profit,” said U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner in a Tuesday news release.
Bee research found that Tikal and co-conspirators convinced people they could obtain new loans at a 75 percent discount, for fees of usually more than $1,000. Many stopped paying premiums to legitimate lenders, paid Tikal instead and eventually lost their homes.
An early 2011 webinar observed by The Bee suggested Tikal relied on a “vapor money” theory, telling homeowners they could get out of traditional loans because the government backs banks with “vague promises” and not gold. He told customers he was a private banker with “access to enormous lines of credit in the banking industry.”
“If there’s a way for the bleeping banks to put me in jail, I would already be there,” Tikal boasted, trying to lure more clients anxious to keep their homes. The Northern San Joaquin Valley had become the epicenter of the mortgage meltdown, with thousands facing foreclosure as the value of their homes plummeted below the amounts they still owed on loans.
He did not save a single home, authorities say.
“Tikal exploited the financial crisis by setting out to hurt others and profit from that hurt,” said Christy Romero, special investigator general for the White House’s Troubled Asset Relief Program.
Other agencies involved in the case include the IRS and the California Attorney General’s Office.
Tikal’s sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 11 in the Sacramento courtroom of U.S. Eastern District Judge Troy L. Nunley, who could impose a term of up to 30 years in federal prison and a $1 million fine.
Defendants Tamara Tikal – Alan Tikal’s wife – and Ray Kornfeld previously pleaded guilty and await sentencing as well.