Newport Beach man posing as a lawyer to defraud convicted clients

A Newport Beach man was convicted Friday morning of posing as a lawyer to defraud clients through debt consolidation and mortgage modification programs.

James Frank Barker, 61, has been given a four-year suspended sentence, meaning Barker will be on probation for three years. If he violates probation, he will be sent to state prison for four years. Last year, Barker pleaded guilty to more than 20 counts, including grand theft, money laundering from criminal activity and forgery.

Barker was also charged with two petty theft offenses.

He first pleaded not guilty at the time of his arrest in 2017.

Prosecutors said Barker impersonated a lawyer between December 2013 and July 2015 to solicit clients with promises to consolidate their debts and reduce their mortgage payments through loan modifications. None of these services were performed and Barker would not have provided a refund after not doing so.

Meanwhile, prosecutors said Barker raised a total of $ 45,600 from three pairs of clients and failed to notify their creditors that he would represent them.

An investigation into Barker began in 2015 after the Orange County District Attorney’s Office received advice from a lawyer representing two of Barker’s clients.

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