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Man wanted by authorities in fraudulent scheme

An Irvine man is at-large and wanted in connection with an alleged fraudulent rate-lock loan modification scheme out of Costa Mesa that victimized people in California and four other states.

An arrest warrant is out for James Toufic Assali, 36, who owns a mortgage refinance company, Meredian Financial Corporation, and an escrow firm, Fortis Title Solutions. Both operated out of an office in Costa Mesa, the Orange County district attorney’s office said Friday in a news release.

Assali is charged with 27 felonies, including 18 counts of grand theft, three counts of grand theft of an adult over 65, four counts of money laundering and two counts of filing a false tax return, with sentence enhancements for money laundering exceeding $50,000, according to the news release. If convicted, Assali faces up to 23 years in state prison.

Authorities believe that Assali is in California orVermont.


He is accused of defrauding people in California, Maryland, Minnesota, Florida and Washington, the release said.

Among the allegations, Assali is accused of collecting a fee from victims ranging between $750 and $10,000. He claimed this would lock in a lower interest rate to refinance their home or modify their home loan, promising that the fee would be refunded at the close of escrow, the release said.

It also said Assali is accused of failing to finish the work and refusing to give his clients refunds.

Anyone with information about his whereabouts should call Supervising Dist. Atty. Investigator Eric Ackerlind at (714) 347-8691.


— Lauren Williams