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Mortgage Fraud Schemer Pleads Guilty

Svetlana Popok Pleads Guilty for Defrauding Distressed Maryland Homeowners

BALTIMORE, MD (June 13, 2014) – Commissioner Mark A. Kaufman announced today that Svetlana Popok, age 45, of Eldersburg, Maryland pleaded guilty to six counts of felony theft with a maximum possible sentence on all counts of 75 years. Popok was charged by the State’s Attorney for Baltimore County in October 2013 on a twenty five count criminal information for Theft Scheme: $10,000-$100,000, Mortgage Fraud, and Unlicensed Activity among other charges. An investigation by the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation’s (DLLR) Office of the Commissioner of Financial Regulation, The Baltimore County Police Department, and the Baltimore County State’s Attorney Office led to Popok’s arrest for defrauding the victims. Sentencing is scheduled for August 13th.

“Commissioner Mark Kaufman and the entire Office of the Commissioner of Financial Regulation worked tirelessly to protect our most vulnerable neighbors from predatory practices,” said Maryland Labor Secretary Leonard Howie. “These charges are the first step in a victory for Maryland consumers, too many of whom have been victimized as they struggle to keep their homes. I thank the Baltimore County State’s Attorney and Police Department for their efforts in this investigation.”

“This case underscores our effort to leverage law enforcement partners at all levels to combat mortgage fraud,” said Mark Kaufman, Commissioner of Financial Regulation. “We appreciate the cooperation of Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Schellenberger, Assistant State’s Attorney Adam Lippe, and Detective Dave Donnelly from the Baltimore County Police Department's Financial and Cyber Crimes Unit.

Popok stole from various unsuspecting homeowners seeking loan modifications and debt consolidations between 2009 and 2012. Popok engaged with other individuals to send solicitation letters to distressed Maryland homeowners throughout the Baltimore metro area promising quick service to help reduce mortgage payments and homeowner debt. Popok initially charged small upfront fees, which grew to tens of thousands of dollars once she told her victims that their loans had been modified. In truth, Popok was not licensed and never contacted any of the victims' mortgage companies and/or banks. The thousands of dollars they paid were for Popok’s own personal benefit.

The investigation into Popok’s activities involved Investigator Julio Hernandez of the Office of the Commissioner of Financial Regulation and Detective Dave Donnelly, of the Baltimore County Police Financial and Cyber Crimes Unit. In addition, Erin McCarthy Naylor, the former Director of Mortgage Fraud for the Office of the Commissioner of Financial Regulation, and veteran Assistant State’s Attorney Adam Lippe, Chief of the Economic Crimes Unit, partnered in the investigation of this case. Mr. Lippe prosecuted the case in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County.

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