A federal judge has sentenced a Pinellas man to 10 years in prison and levied a $1.8 million fine for a foreclosure scheme that bilked desperate homeowners.

Peter James Porcelli II, 57, received the 10 years on mail fraud charges after pleading guilty April 15. The judgement is for the amount of money he gained from the fraud, according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office press release.

As a licensed mortgage lender, Porcelli used court foreclosure dockets to send flyers to struggling homeowners offering foreclosure relief, according to authorities. Porcelli then lent victims balloon payment loans with fees that averaged 60 percent of the loans, with interest rates at high as 260 percent. Many of the victims lost their homes, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

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