HAMPTON ROADS, Va. – Federal authorities say a man took advantage of dozens of people who were about to lose their homes in the Hampton Roads region.
Damien Byrd pleaded guilty to one count of bankruptcy fraud in the Norfolk Federal Courthouse. He is currently waiting to be sentenced.
Documents state that he “hatched a scheme whereby he convinced distressed homeowners facing foreclosure and the loss of their homes that he could assist them in keeping their homes through the filing of various bankruptcy petitions. In truth and fact, Byrd was engaged in a scheme to defraud these homeowners out of funds that he fraudulently converted to his own use.”
Records state he owned and operated a company called Bird & Associates.
Prosecutors said he researched and identified financially distressed homeowners in the Hampton Roads region and solicited them by placing a flier on their door advertising his service. He claimed that he could provide “100% success stopping foreclosure” and promised a “100% money back guarantee.”
Records indicate that he charged service fees that ranged from $695 to $895 and in many instances had distressed homeowners make mortgage payments through his company.
Documents indicate that instead of paying the mortgage holders, Byrd “converted the funds to his own use unbeknownst to the homeowners.”
Byrd convinced the homeowners to allow him to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy petitions on their behalf allegedly to allow Byrd time to eliminate or renegotiate the homeowners’ mortgage debt.
They claim he sometimes pretended to be an attorney or working with attorneys “as part of a legal team to bolster the credibility of his scheme”.
Byrd filed numerous skeletal bankruptcy petitions on behalf of these homeowners which were used to delay foreclosure actions to make it appear he was taking action for his clients but he would not list himself in the documents, court records said.
The United States Trustee would then send notices to the homeowners but Byrd told his clients to ignore these correspondents and advised them not to attend any court hearings.
Prosecutors say the petitions for the homeowners would get dismissed.
Byrd would then file subsequent fraudulent bankruptcy petitions on behalf of the various homeowners to make it appear he was helping them to avoid foreclosure and thereby continuing to fraudulently extract fees and mortgage payments from them. He plead guilty to telling one victim in Newport News that he got into this business because he was tired of the big banks taking advantage of people about to lose their homes.
Byrd took almost $800 dollars up front from this victim and charged them $500 a month to help with filings in court, it states.
Federal authorities say in total there were over 50 homeowners defrauded in excess of over $35,000.
Byrd is scheduled to be sentenced on January 28in the Norfolk Federal Courthouse at 11a.m. Attempts to reach him and his public defender were unsuccessful.