Couple Led Astray by Church Friend in Mortgage Refinancing Scam: Attorney General

A couple struggling to make mortgage payments turned to a friend they met at church to help them refinance their home mortgage. The 56-year-old Lake in the Hills man allegedly stole thousands of dollars from Randy and Lori Stroh in a mortgage refinancing scam and caused the couple to lose their home, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s Office said Wednesday. 

Carlos Meza, 56, of Lake in the Hills, was arraigned Wednesday in McHenry County Circuit Court before Judge Sharon L. Prather on one count of continuing financial crimes enterprise, a Class 1 felony; one count of theft by unauthorized control over $10,000, a Class 2 felony; and one count of financial institution fraud, a Class 2 felony, according to Madigan’s office.

Between May 1, 2013 and March 31, 2014, Meza allegedly lead the Strohs to believe he hired people to assist in the refinancing process and directed Randy Stroh to make checks payable to those people in various amounts, according to the attorney general’s office. Meza then forged signatures and deposited the checks into his personal bank account. Meza also directed the Strohs to discontinue payments on their mortgage, which lead to them losing their home.

“Meza preyed on people who considered him a trusted friend and advisor,” Madigan said. “Instead of assisting them to save their home by refinancing their mortgage, he stole their money and the home was lost.”

Madigan’s office is prosecuting the case based on a referral from the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office. Assistant Attorney General Nicole Sutcliffe is handling the case for Madigan’s Special Prosecutions Bureau, according to a news release.

Madigan has aggressively targeted mortgage rescue schemes that emerged in the wake of the national housing crisis. She has filed over 50 lawsuits against loan modification scam operations and issued nearly 700 cease-and-desist letters.