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Meredian Financial Corporation/Services / Mortgage Refinance Fraud

1 3080 Bristol Street Suite 430, Costa Mesa, CA 92626Costa Mesa, CA, United States Review updated:
Contact information:
Phone: (800)-532-0755

My wife and I made the mistake of trying to refinance with this company! Around December 3, 2009, we began refinancing our house with Meredian Financial Corporation of Costa Mesa, CA. They were going to get us a fixed 30-year mortgage at 5.125% interest rate. We paid already close to $3000.00 in a lock, down that was supposed to go towards closing costs, and an appraisal, which occurred on December 20th.

The loan still hadn't closed after the new year and they said it couldn't because they needed more financial proof that we wouldn't default on the loan. When they required complete tax returns from 2007 and 2008, we began doing come investigating (talking with friends that are mortgage brokers, this is not an uncommon practice but one that we had never experienced with a refinance).

Through the Department of Financial Institutions (DFI - a division of the Attorney General in Washington State), we discovered that they are neither licensed in Washington state to broker mortgages, nor do they have a surety bond. I immediately filed a complaint with the DFI and filed a fraud alert with the Social Security Administration. That week I wrote no less than three e-mails ending the transaction and demanding a total refund. The replies avoided the refund, justified their position and requested a return telephone call to discuss the matter, of which I refused - I requested to only correspond via e-mail. Below is a list of people who initially handled the account, followed by those up the chain of command who contacted me:

Broker: Michael Iriarte(michael.iriarte@meredian.com); Loan Processor: Jennifer Mitchell(jennifer.mitchell@meredian.com); Russell Howerton (russell@meredian.com); John Huizar (john.huizar@meredian.com); j (j@Meredian.com) - I would assume that's James Assali, but can't confirm for certain.

This is a breakdown of the expenses: $1707.13 payment that was to be applied to closing costs $12.99 wire transfer reimbursal $750.00 lock in fee $450.00 appraisal. To keep from going into default on our mortgage with our current mortgage lender, Bank of America, we had to pull money from our adoption fund that we've been saving up for the past year. We are right on the cusp of adopting - all of the paperwork/classes are done and we are just waiting for the child. We live on one single-teacher's income, as my wife stays at home with our 4-yr-old daughter.

After a week of waiting for a reponse, I then filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau of Southland, Inc - Southern California. Note this - when we originally started the loan, they had the BBB symbol on their website; they even had the logo on their e-mails, rating them an "A-." They are not members of the BBB and the BBB logo is now absent from their website. After two attempts to contact them with no response, the BBB has now closed the file. You can access the BBB's rating of them at
http://www.la.bbb.org/Business-Report/Meredian-Financial-Corporation-100058332

which now gives them an "F" rating.

In the meantime, I sent Meredian two more e-mails demanding a total refund. Again, no response, so I filed a complaint with the Department of Real Estate of California http://www.dre.ca.gov/ and the National Fraud Information Center. www.fraud.org

I waited a month to file this report, hoping that Meredian would make good on the refund. Seeing that they have not, I'm hoping the goverment will do their part.

Ji
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Comments

  • No
      24th of Feb, 2010
    0 Votes

    My husband and I are in the same boat. They owe us even more than that.

  • Ji
      24th of Feb, 2010
    0 Votes

    I'm sorry to hear that - hopefully, you've contacted your state attorney general, as well as the one in California. For what it's worth, additional complaints to the BBB in Southland at least leaves a trail.

  • Ha
      26th of Apr, 2010
    -2 Votes

    I had my loan done through Meredian and they closed in 46 days. I was skeptical at first because they are not known. But they beat Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Chase on the rates they offered me by at least .6%. As for paying a lock, I did that with Banksters of America plus a $2000 origination fee when I purchased my home. Thats one of the main reasons I went with Meredian, no fees and I skipped 2 payments. As for needing information, doesnt every lender require information to complete a loan. And who funds a loan in a couple of weeks. I think this guy is just bitter and a whiner. Or why else would they be on the HUD.gov website, BBB ratings suck anyway anybody can complain and your business automatically gets downgraded. I dont find that fair.

  • Mw
      9th of Jun, 2010
    0 Votes

    I received a phone call from this company, from a robo-dialer, claiming to be "the underwriting department." They claimed that, after reviewing my payment history, I qualified for a loan at a rate of 5.375%. Everything they say is a lie. They have absolutely no connection to "the underwriting department" of my loan holder, Bank of America. They have no access to my payment history. I would know if they did because it would have shown up on my credit report as an inquiry. Furthermore, I am on the do-not-call registry, so they are in violation of federal law.

    Mr. "Happy Refinancer" is obviously a sock puppet of James Assali. Nice try, [censor].

  • Ke
      11th of Jun, 2010
    0 Votes

    I put down a substantial deposit to secure a home refinance loan. The deposit was supposed to be refunded if they couldn't do the loan. After they told me they weren't able to do the loan, I was told the money would be refunded to me soon . I kept getting the run around for weeks. After talking to the original loan officer, then his boss then the accounting dept. I was told I was not eligible for a refund. I finally realized this was a scam.

  • Ju
      11th of Jul, 2010
    0 Votes

    I am sorry to hear your story. I had bad experience with dishonest mortgage broker/loan originator too. Did the government help your get your money back yet? My past experience with DFI told me that it is hard to have your right fully protected when you are dealing with professional liars in the mortgage industries and the government workers do not do their job to protect consumers.

  • Mi
      26th of Jul, 2010
    0 Votes

    I thought their rates were very low with no "closing costs" since I work as a teller at a bank I know this means no origination and I still have to pay for a credit report, appraisal, title, escrow, and government fees. I was kind of scared because they requested 2 month deposit but I verified their license on the HUD.gov website so I trusted them. So I provided all my financial information and credit card over the phone to do a rate lock voice stamp recording or something. They emailed me the list of requested documents and I signed the application, disclosures and rate lock agreement. I thought it was weird that everything was over the phone & email so I googled and read these complaints and the BBB complaints after the fact so I canceled my credit card that I used, but I didnt want to lose out on the money for just canceling or misstating information like the rate lock agreement stated. I was going to say I made $6000 but then when I was told I had to provide paystubs I told them to change it to $5500. So I waited it out for 4 weeks praying I didnt get scammed out of my deposit . Thank goodness I just received my HUD closing statement with the same rate they quoted me, 3rd party closing costs and a refund check for my deposit. From now on I will check out a company online, but I wonder if any of you didnt get a refund because you just canceled or because of what you read or if you provided false income information and you got denied and forfeited your refund. Regardless of how scared I was, I am happy I did it.

  • Fy
      1st of Sep, 2010
    0 Votes

    James Assali is a Con! Writes bad payroll checks to his employees, sends them out to cash them when there arent any funds available. FYI if you happen to read any positive reviews anywhere its bogus. Most likely its James writing the reviews. He was arrested for Insurance fraud.

  • Mi
      22nd of Sep, 2010
    0 Votes

    I also tried to refi with these guys! They told me right away that I was approved for the loan, but then strung me along for 3 months with B.S. I had to get a subordination done to release my 2nd morgage from the 1st. After waiting 6 weeks and being told by Rebecca morrison and Pete Rivera that that I should be closing any day, I called my bank to see where they were in completing this subordination agreement. Much to my suprise my bank told me they had no record of one ever by submitted. I then sent several e-mails to Pete and Rebecca wondering what was going on ? only to get an e-mail stating these two no longer work for them and they would turn my info over to somebody else. I then got a call telling me there was no way to make this loan work and good buy. this is after $925. to lock the rate and 450 for an appraisel and another $100. for an subordination fee that never got sent in. 3 months of them stringing me along just to tell me to bad in the end by somebody else that claimed to not know anything and was just trying to get me off the phone. What a waste of Time!!!

  • St
      12th of Oct, 2010
    0 Votes

    I worked for the company for one week before quitting because I suspected unethical business practices. They have basically refused to pay me for my work. And are no longer answering me and assume they have blocked my email address because I requested a report that the message was delivered successfully and none was ever given!

    STAY AWAY!! They are all theifs and they laugh about it!

  • Tr
      13th of Oct, 2010
    0 Votes

    I used to work for them.

    California Residential Mortgage Lending Act does not allow fees to be given by consumer unless the "rate lock fee" is given to the lender with whom the loan will be made. Guess what? That does not happen their. They also bounced checks on one of the employees recently.

    Also, we were instructed to tell the potential borrowers that they "work with your bank (meaning the lending instition with whom you have a current mortgage with) on the secondary market. Baloney! The dialer they have in place calls targeted people. These people have home loans with some of the major banks already. Its a good marketing strategy but lying to a potential borrower/customer is not permitted under any circumstance.

    They want you to pay for a rate lock, (the latter does not go to the lender) and appraisal. Now, while I agree that borrowers must pay for their appraisals the rate lock fee should not be requested until AFTER the lock has expired. Only then a fee may come into play.

    Rate Locks can last up to 60 days without fee payment. By that time the loan would have closed. Meredian can lock loan rates online without charging a fee just like many other brokers and lenders do.

    I have heard many of the stories from real people who are still waiting for the return of thier money. All can say is "good luck". I don't see that happening.

    Here is some advice for potential borrowers: There is a website National Mortgage Loan Service Registry (www.nmls.com) (tel. # 240.386.4444) . Check to see if the company is registered and then check to see if the "Loan Officer" is registered as well. You can contact me anytime you wish and I will assist in anyway I can.

    Contact me via email and I will gladly be of assistance regarding your current loan needs. Email me: troyragland@aol.com.

    Take Care.

  • Sc
      17th of Dec, 2010
    0 Votes

    Sorry to hear about ALL the scams, He got me too! his personal phone #714-949-307-4567 is, and he live at 29 Shady Ln, in Shady Canyon, Irvine Calif. SHADY is right!! His Name is James Toufic ASSali, all I can say is call him direct, He has threatened to send tweekers to my home, to [censored] me up! He said he would spend thousands of dollars before he would send me the $500 refund!. BBB couldn't or wouldn't do anything. I guess I'll try the Orange County Dist.Att. Anthony

  • Ta
      4th of Feb, 2011
    0 Votes

    I had to charge $499.00 to lock in percentage rate. I was told thoughout the process that I would be getting the $499 back. Josh reassured me I would getting that amount back. At closing I was shown that I would be recieving $250.00 back for a padding. I closed on 12/10/10 its is now 2 months later and I have not recieved anything nor will they return my calls to Chris Bradford at Fortis Title which Meredian ownes. I have called the owners James Assali & Paul Ferris with NO responces from anyone. At closing I was also told that I would recieve a copy of the closing papers for my taxes. I have not recieved those also. these people are liars and thiefs I wish I never met them.

  • Mi
      14th of Apr, 2011
    0 Votes

    To use the adage, there are two sides to every story. I did in fact originate that loan and submitted their information to my loan processor for underwriting. Being a teacher, the borrower was very hard to get a hold of. After full underwriting, the approval required proof that the borrower to provide income paperwork for his piano lesson business. Lending guidelines have changed –investors want to see EVERYTHING when it comes to risk-based lending. I tried every avenue possible to help the clients, I have been in the business for a long time and that is the only complaint.
    At that time I was in asked to let our management team handle the file and that they would be refunded. I quit working there shortly after because the owner and management at Meredian began withholding client deposits and not closing their loans. If the client called to complain after I left – the owner simply told them I took their money and left. The truth is, the money was deposited into a escrow trust account – one that I had no access to.
    Meredian has many complaints of this nature. As you will see below the complaint with my name in it – the owner of the company made the choice to withhold refunds and blame his employees.
    I myself have a family come from an upbringing deeply rooted in respect and integrity – that is why I left Meredian when the writing on the wall became clear.

    I wish things went differently, but their file was taken off my desk days after they refused to submit their last few documents for the loan.

  • Mt
      8th of Jun, 2011
    0 Votes

    Law enforcement officials are looking for the owner of a Costa Mesa-based mortgage refinance company and escrow business who is charged in a loan modification scheme that preyed on victims in California and other states.

    Prosecutors say they’ve also found victims in Maryland, Minnesota, Florida, and Washington.

    James Toufic Assali, 36, of Irvine, is charged with 18 felony counts of grand theft, three felony counts of grand theft of an adult over 65, four felony counts of money laundering, and two felony counts of filing a false tax return.

    There are sentencing enhancements for money laundering exceeding $50, 000. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 23 years in state prison.

    An arrest warrant was issued May 26, 2011, for Assali, who is believed to be either in California or Vermont, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s office.

    Prosecutors say that Asssali owns Meredian Financial Corporation (Meredian) and an escrow business, Fortis Title Solutions, both operating out of Costa Mesa.

    He’s accused of soliciting Meredian’s home loan ratelock and modification services for a fee ranging from $750 up to $10, 000.

    According to the press release, Assali is accused of:

    Collecting a fee from victims to lock in a lower interest rate to refinance their home or modify their home loan, and promising to refund the fee at the close of escrow.
    Failing to complete a majority of home loan modifications or refinancing services and refusing to issue the promised refunds.
    Electronically transferring funds from his business bank account to his personal account totaling more than $100, 000 annually in both 2008 and 2009, filing false tax returns in 2008 and 2009, and underreporting his compensation by more than $200, 000. As a result, he’s accused of owing more than $18, 000 in unpaid taxes for filing false returns in 2008 and 2009.

    The District Attorney’s office began investigating the case after getting complaints. The California Franchise Tax Board assisted in the investigation into the filing of false tax returns.

    Anyone who has seen him or knows his whereabouts or believes they have been a victim should contact Supervising District Attorney Investigator Eric Ackerlind at (714) 347-8691.

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