Man pleads guilty to telling victims he would prevent seizure at Hampton Roads

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HAMPTON ROADS, Va. — Federal authorities say a man took advantage of dozens of people who were on the verge of losing their homes in the Hampton Roads area.

Damien Byrd pleaded guilty to one count of bankruptcy fraud in the Norfolk Federal Courthouse. He is currently awaiting sentencing.

Documents say he “devised a scheme by which he convinced distressed homeowners facing foreclosure and loss of their homes that he could help them keep their homes by filing various bankruptcy petitions. In truth and in fact, Byrd was engaged in a scheme to defraud these owners with funds he had fraudulently converted for his own use.

Records indicate he owned and operated a company called Bird & Associates.

Prosecutors said he sought out and identified homeowners in financial difficulty in the Hampton Roads area and solicited them by placing a flyer on their doorsteps advertising his service. He claimed he could provide “100% success in stopping foreclosure” and promised a “100% money back guarantee”.

Records show he charged service fees ranging from $695 to $895, and in many cases, struggling homeowners made mortgage payments through his company.

Documents say that instead of paying the mortgagees, Byrd “converted the funds for his own use without the owners’ knowledge.”

Byrd convinced the owners to allow him to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy petitions on their behalf, allegedly to give Byrd time to eliminate or renegotiate the owners’ mortgage debt.

They claim he sometimes pretended to be a lawyer or worked with lawyers “as part of a legal team to bolster the credibility of his scheme.”

Byrd filed numerous skeletal bankruptcy petitions on behalf of these landlords that were used to delay foreclosure actions to look like he was taking action for his clients, but he did not register in the documents, according to court records.

The United States Trustee would then send notices to the owners, but Byrd told his clients to ignore these correspondents and advised them not to attend court hearings.

Prosecutors say the petitions for the owners would be dismissed.

Byrd would then file fraudulent bankruptcy petitions on behalf of the various landlords to pretend that he was helping them avoid foreclosure and thus continued to fraudulently extract fees and mortgage payments from them. He pleaded guilty to telling a Newport News victim that he got into the business because he was tired of big banks taking advantage of people on the verge of losing their homes.

Byrd took almost $800 upfront from this victim and charged him $500 a month to help him file his cases in court, he says.

Federal authorities say a total of more than 50 owners were defrauded of more than $35,000.

Byrd is expected to be sentenced on January 28. at the Norfolk Federal Courthouse at 11 a.m. Attempts to reach him and his public defender were unsuccessful.

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