LOS ANGELES (AP) — Eleven people have been indicted by a Los Angeles federal grand jury for a loan modification scam that preyed on more than 4,000 financially distressed homeowners.

Many of the victims lost their homes to foreclosure.

Prosecutors said on Wednesday that Rancho Cucamonga-based 21st Century Real Estate Investment Corp. and several of its related firms told homeowners they would be able to obtain new mortgages with specific interest rates and reduced payments.

Attorneys would negotiate loan modifications with their lenders

Andrea Ramirez, the alleged 44-year-old ringleader, and her employees falsely told homeowners that the firm was operating through a federal government program.

They were told to stop sending payments to lenders, saying fees paid to 21st Century would be used to make the mortgage payments.

But 21st Century kept the money.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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