Sky Benson and Jerry Benson
Sky Benson, I understand, is a long time friend and partner with Julian. He owns a barber shop in the Burien area. He is a notary – while in prison Julian would fill out and sign documents and have Sky notarize them.
Sky has a “straw mortgage” on a $1M house in West Seattle. While Julian was gone he talked about the fact that Julian had also left him without income and deals (loans, mortgages?) not complete. I am completely unaware of what Sky does with regards to loans. When I went over the list of loans I was completing for Julian, Sky noted that “none of those files are the loans we were working”.
Jerry Benson, Sky’s father – worked in the movie business in California. I met him once and he said that he and David Scratchley were long time business partners that they were developing a counseling business and that he, Jerry, was going to counsel people.
Once he told me to only talk to him regarding the Scratchley’s financial business, as he controlled their finances. Yet, when I questioned Susan Scratchley regarding Jerry and their partnership – she made it clear Jerry wasn’t as good or trusting a friend as he claimed.
David and Susan Scratchley – Their Greenwood home
Sky introduced Julian to David and Susan Scratchley. David Scratchley is a psychiatrist. Julian sought counseling with regards to his feelings and involvement in Patrick’s situation. The Scratchley’s needed financial help, as they had recently been possible victims of mortgage fraud and other deceptive financial situations. They owned two homes, their home of many years in the Greenwood area and their newly purchased home in Woodinville.
Julian and other SFG employees orchestrated the sale of their Greenwood house. Finding the buyer, putting together the real estate paperwork and mortgage loan. The Scratchley’s, were in need of still additional funds after that house sold.
Julian and I began on putting together a refinance for 1.7 million on their Woodinville home they had just purchased 3 months ago. Never seeing the paperwork or knowing the details of the sale on the Greenwood home, it just seemed odd they Needed further financial assistance so quickly after buying the home.
The Federal Way Home
I also worked on a loan for a friend of Craig Hinton, another loan officer in the office. The guy was buying a house in the Federal Way area, which was owned (being sold) by Amir Pazooki, owner of Solutions Financial Network.
Julian asked me to see if I could get this loan together –as “Amir wants it sold – now”. My sense was something was wrong somewhere with the financing or paperwork on the home and Amir wanted it out of his name and off of his books, asap.
The price of the house seemed high and Amir was very willing to do whatever it took, financially, to get the house sold and into this client’s name. He had apparently already pulled a large amount of cash out of the home at closing.
Julian’s Own Real Estate Dealings
Julian began having numerous personal real estate and land development deals going on. I pulled credit and title on houses/land parcels/client names I had never heard of nor had any paperwork on. I DID NOT work on any of the loans for these people or pieces of real estate. Julian gave out information as he would say, on a “need to know basis”, it was said that Julian admitted that I “didn’t know about these other loan projects and loans and wasn’t suppose to know”.
Julian would also talk about loaning out (tens of) thousands of dollars to people. Once I saw one of his 2004 bank statements it showed one month deposits of over $100,000.00.
I knew he wasn’t making that kind of money from the types of loans he was bringing in for me to process, and I sensed he was bending the rules a bit. He was good at working the real estate and mortgage loan business to his advantage, but I never thought or believed he would go too far over the line. He was very ambitious and had huge future goals for himself wanting to build a mortgage and real estate business of his own.
The 4502 119th Ave. SE. Bellevue Wa. 98005 Home
Julian had deals going on 3 homes for himself in the Newport Hills area of Bellevue, WA. He mentioned that he had found a house for me to look at if I was still interested in doing a flip with him. With complete faith in Julian I was comfortable in partnering with him to buy, renovate, and flip homes.
He showed me a home 2 doors up from a house he had recently bought and renovated. That was a home everyone had given Julian high marks for his job in its renovation. The house he used my credit to purchase also needed to be fixed and cleaned up, but I felt it had potential and agreed to partner with him on it.
My Straw Loan
I never saw, worked on, or verified any of the information or documentation on the loan for the house. The home was expensive ($500,000.00) so I did pull value on it and the comparisons showed low $360.000.00 and high $410,000.00 estimated value. Julian told me to ignore those numbers; they didn’t understand the area or make exceptions for the property and view.
Using a stated loan from Argent Mortgage, per their conditions we were able to state my income without the need of written verification. Julian used a salary of $100,000 to make the numbers work. He used his fictitious "Platinum computer company" as my employer. I had misgivings over signing off on the income information, yet as I had no malice or ill intent; the loan payments would be made, the house renovated and sold for a profit; in the end, everyone would win.
I talked about the possibility moving into the house; Julian discussed buying it and using it as a “training facility” and tax write-off, and we considered just fixing it up and flipping it. Either way, he said over and over again, that he was going to make all the mortgage payments and cover the repair costs. In a minimal amount of time, the house would be sold and the loan out of my name.
September 22, 2005
Action Escrow - I signed the loan papers.
September 23, 2005
Loan Closed and the Disbursement of Money
Julian was unusually interested in this closing, when it funded, and most importantly when the check would be available. Once funded, Julian asked me whether I wanted the check made out in my name or his. My calculations were that the check for me (the buyer) it would be about $350.00, so I told him to take it. I don’t remember signing documentation for this check, the amount or any authorization in its distribution.
As Julian picked the check up, I assume he signed for it then and it would show Julian’s signature. From what I know now, (per the loan papers) the proceeds ($88,000) were to go to the seller (which was apparently Julian).
On Friday I met Julian at the Southcenter SFG office. He asked me if I had decided to move into the home or not. If I was, he was going to write the check for an extra $20,000.00 to me; if I wasn’t, he would keep that amount. I did not understand what the large amount of money was for, where it came from or why it was necessary to disperse such a huge amount.
I had decided to move in – so he wrote a check out to me for $40,000.00, I was stunned. Then he said he had to write out several other checks for ‘finder fees’ and I asked him “where are you getting all of this money?” He didn’t respond. The next day he walked by my desk and dropped off another check for $30,000.00 and I asked what is was for? His response was “working hard and a job well done.”
September 26, 2005
I returned the money given me after the house closing
Not feeling comfortable at all about these 2 huge checks and deciding not to live at the house, I returned the $40,000.00 check and said that I had washed the second check in with my clothes (I had actually put that check through the office shredder.) Again, as the business venture was never about the money for me in the first place, I didn’t want the money, though I appreciated it.
We finally ‘agreed’ that he would pay me $10,000.00. The second $5000.00 per the agreement, and $5000.00 for work and loans I had worked on and not been paid for. I deposited this check for $10,000.00 into my checking acct.
Julian moved back to Southcenter SFG office
Amir had Julian move back to the Southcenter office. Amir’s initial explanation was that Julian’s ‘energy’ increased the sales in the office. (After Julian was picked up by the authorities – Amir said it was because he wanted to be able to ‘watch’ what Julian was doing.)
October 10, 2005
Julian is picked up by the Authorities
Amir came and told me Julian’s father was ill and that Julian would not be in the office for a few days. That just didn’t make sense to me. Julian’s father only lived in Bainbridge – why would he not be in the office for several days – and why hadn’t Julian called me himself.
The Meetings and his Objectives
Amir pulled me into his office:
He immediately started “We already have one house burnt down, we don’t need another.” That he had pulled Julian into his office and talked to him regarding my loan, when he saw my loan papers after closing.
Julian told him that I had been given $70,000. Julian had been told not to do anymore of those kinds of loans and that he (Amir) should have called the FBI and reported me. That 3 people from some mortgage company were just sent to prison for exactly what I had done. I told him that I hadn’t process any bad loans that I knew of.
My Loan and Possibly similar loans being processed through Solutions Financial Group
I knew my loan was not the first of its kind to pass over Amir’s desk. Patrick’s, as Amir himself admitted funded months ago, was one; others I speculated included: The Greenwood house, The Federal Way House, and the house Julian had just purchased for himself.
If Amir had such a serious problem with Patrick’s and now my loan, why hadn’t he have a company or loan officers meeting; post notices or hand out policies for employees to sign as was his practice for other company issues. There was talk regarding our two Russian loan officers who work out of the Factoria Office who were also/possibly handling loans in the same manner.
I have never seen any of the paperwork on any of these properties. Yet, Julian made money on these loans and/or sales and according to Sky Benson “Amir and Omied are in it up to their eyeballs in these things.” In addition, Julian said nothing to me about any meeting he had with Amir after my loan was funded. I had given the 2 checks back. I had not knowingly processed any ‘bad’ loans, although I had NO idea what ‘bad loans’ meant to Amir.
I went over the ‘tactics’ as listed above. Amir said “everyone does that, that isn’t really a problem”. He wanted to see all the loans I had processed. Once he reviewed them, Amir did not mention anything again about those files. He was very nervous, anxious and visibly concerned now that Julian was not around.
Friday October 14, 2005
Amir asked me if I had ‘enough money’ in our initial conversations, him stating that he was going to take Care of me while Julian was gone and that if I needed money for bills or anything, to come to him.
I find out Julian is in Jail and has been there previously
In time his friends figure things out and find his information online regarding him being picked up. Amir and I talk about the situation. Amir says that Julian is a con, but not a very intelligent con. That he will not be able to work in this office again. He then started the first of endless rants, which I saw as his way to control, show superiority, threaten, scare, and intimidate me - using my loan.
He continually went over:
Ø The legal and/or police action he could or should have taken when he saw my loan after closing.
Ø He would go on and on until he got me to verbally tell him that I would not go to the police myself.
Ø If Julian doesn’t buy the house, he would buy it and take care of the expenses because he “owed it to Julian because he was such a great employee and had contributed so much to his company.”
Ø Getting me to ensure to him that all the mortgage payments would to be paid, as he didn’t want (another) house, from the same lender in foreclosure.
I later learned that, immediately upon finding out Julian had been picked up by the authorities and was in custody, Amir went to meet with Julian at the King County facility. That Amir was extremely nervous and agitated about what was going to happen, who knew what, worried that the authorities would subsequently go to the SFG office for a search of the files.
Julian did finally get back in February 2006
"although referred to as a con by Amir, Julian was offered his job back"- Marcia Smith
Tuesday October 18, 2005
Confronting Amir regarding my involvement in my loan
I decided to confront Amir regarding his accusations regarding my involvement in my “bad” loan. In additional to Amir’s statements, others would make references to all the money I had, what I was going to do with the money or say things like “I’ll bet you are glad now that Julian isn’t around, that you have all that money”. At first I didn't understand, all of a sudden ‘I got’ what they was talking about.
I went in and told Amir I did NOT have that money (from the checks), that I had given the checks back to Julian. I told Amir, “If you don’t believe me, you can look at my Checking account”. He said it wasn’t necessary.
We looked over the closing papers for my loan; I again showed Amir where I figured we would get about $350.00 back. On the ‘sellers’ side – there was a disbursement of almost $80,000.00. Although I didn’t understand how this con was put together, I now understood where Julian had gotten all the money.
Roughly figuring he still had to have $50,000.00 or so (somewhere); Julian would repeatedly tell me (to calm me) when talking to him when he was in prison “I have plenty of money”. Once out of prison, Julian immediately bought a black Porsche Boxster Convertible and a security system for his house which included a camera mounted on the front entry window, but I never saw another dime).
October 2005 - February 2006
Julian was extradited to Las Vegas, Nevada; transferred to the High Desert State Prison then extradited to a prison facility in southern California for parole violations there.
When he was first picked up by the authorities and extradited to Nevada, he would call friends and family members. I got messages from all these people that Julian told them to tell me “don’t worry about the house. Don’t sell the house. I will pay the mortgage payments and take care of everything”. He said his arrest was all a big mistake and that he would be back into Seattle within about 6 weeks.
My Finalizing Loans at SFG / Taking care of the House
I finished closing and funding 5 additional loans that Julian and I had started before he was picked up. When the loans would fund, Amir would write the commission check directly to me for the full amount – Julian’s amount – so that I could use the money to keep the mortgage payments current. I received $16,328.42 in total. Under regular circumstances Julian took 65% of that $10,613.47 and then he would give me 35% $5714.95.
As soon as all the loans were funded, Amir had Julian’s and my computers completely cleared out of all loans and information. He cleaned out the office area in the Factoria office and ‘sealed’ off Julian’s office at Southcenter. No one could go into the office without either he or Omied escorting them.
I hired people to begin the much needed fixing up of the house; it wasn’t livable, and certainly not sellable. I used almost $25,000.00. One Saturday I was working at the house, Amir showed up. Again repeating a story he had just heard that the Feds had just sent another group of people to prison for the same loan scheme.
He then confronted me on whether I had forged his son Omied’s signature on my loan. I immediately and emphatically responded “No”. He seemed a little shocked at the clarity of my answer; he stopped, turned around, got into his car, and left without another word spoken.
House on the Market
Could not sell it for what was owed
As the incarceration grew longer, Julian said to sell the house as a FSBO. Not willing to do that, I listed the home with a Realtor. Since I purchased the house at such an inflated price ($420,000 paid to Jeff LaRue – and then the additional $80,000.00 paid to Julian) of $500,000 plus an estimated $30,000 needed to cover the closing costs it would be next to impossible to sell. My Realtor had 100’s of inquiries, but it proved an impossible task to actually sell the house for what was owed.
Amir gives me $5000.00 to cover Mortgage Payments on house
Running out of money and cash advances on my credit cards (as a person who always pays her bills on time) and finally understanding the magnitude of my actual situation, it began to mentally take a toll on me.
The $5000.00 a month additional mortgage payments, the renovation costs, my own condo, living expenses and now with Julian in prison (I had also lost my job as no further loans were being generated), I was getting hysterical.
Everyone involved and close to Julian or the situation understood and felt really sorry for me and all offered monetary help, but seemingly stepped aside when it came to actually coming up with the money (including Amir ).
I started to make calls to people for help, to “voice/scream” my frustration wanting those truly responsible to take charge. I began threatening to go to the authorities and turn Julian in to try to get people to help.
That afternoon, Amir was at my door and we went to his car to talk. He ‘knew’ that I was mentally starting to slide under the strain. Yet true to form he started with the “I should have called the authorities on you” rant, and adding “but that we don’t want to do that now, do we”? I said “I did not process that loan and that I didn’t know who did”.
Amir would not let up until I verbally, again, said “I was not going to go to the authorities”. Once I (again) made that vow, he said for me to come to his office the next Monday and that he would take care of the mortgage payments.
At his office, Amir wrote a check out in my name for $5000.00 to cover the mortgage payments. He specifically said he did not wanting to write the check from him, directly to the lender. He noted ‘work’ on the check.
February 15, 2006
Amir writes an additional check for expenses on house
Bills were again running up and people needed to be paid. I brought an itemized list to Amir, requesting $2,200.00 – he wrote a check for $500.00.
January – February 2006
Amir Begins Process of Buying my House
Amir stated that he did not want to keep paying the $5000.00 mortgage payments if Julian was not going to come back and buy the house, he (Amir) would buy the house. He said he knew it wasn’t worth that much, but in a couple of years he would make up the difference and it would be a good investment. We worried that he would not be able to get a legitimate appraisal at the value he needed.
Julian had not yet been released, but there were still rumors that it might still happen soon. Amir got with me about writing up the Purchase and Sale to buy the house, but it seemed that he did everything he could to slow up the process.
Julian is Released
Eventually Julian did get out. Julian immediately got a message out for the three of us to meet at Amir’s office the following Monday, to go over things. I did not go, nor did I plan on attending; the sale of the home was between them. I don’t know, but I don’t think the meeting ever happened.
My Meetings with Julian
Julian and I met Tuesday and he came to my house on Wednesday to write up and sign the purchase and sale agreement. Julian wrote a check for $4500.00, that month’s mortgage payments – it bounced (See Below).
I had a third meeting with him. (STILL) continuing to believe him and in him; he said getting the house loan completed was his number one priority. The mortgage payments were now 2 months behind and I needed $10,000.00 to catch up.
I had no more money – and I finally was getting enough sense to stop putting what little money I had left into this venture.
An appraisal was made on the house. The mortgage co. called, with requests for payoffs. It was noted “I did very well on the house- and made a great profit” Which indicated to me that (again) Julian was trying to pull the same “loan scheme” to get even more money out of the house at closing.
Julian even proceeded to rent the house out and collect rent while he claimed he was buying it from me. He never gave me a dime of the rent, and even told the renter that a crazy old lady (me) may come around claiming the home was hers and to just ignore her. So when I told the renter to leave my home he just ignored me!
March 26, 2006
Amir agrees to buy house
Julian was no where to be found. The mortgage payments were now 2 months delinquent. I called Amir, he said that he would take care of it, and he would go ahead and buy the house. He was as supportive and civil as he had ever been.
March 28, 2006
Amir rescinds his offer to buy house
I met Amir in his office, he then informed me that “he had talked to his attorney, and that his attorney had instructed him not to buy the house”.