Loan sharks that prey upon citizens in this time of corona-virus induced economic uncertainty

Alleged Seattle Loan Sharks, Preying on National Veteran’s Advocates


Irving Sonkin is an Alleged Accomplice in a Loan Fraud Scheme

Seattle-based lawyer Irving Sonkin, his wife Netta Sonkin, and Sonkin’s client Lou Berg have been served with a federal lawsuit which alleges that they have operated a systematic “loan conversion” fraud.

The scheme of the Sonkins and Berg, the suit alleges, targets people in challenging circumstances. They fraudulently wrote loans as commercial when in fact the loans were made to people who occupied their own homes, according to evidence presented in the suit. In doing so, the loans were fraudulently converted from owner-occupied to commercial loans.

“Converting a loan from residential to commercial strips people of both federal and state legal rights. Those rights were created to protect the public from precisely the tactics used by the Sonkins and Berg,” said John Scannell, a Ninth Circuit Appellate attorney. Informally called “hard-money” lenders, alleged “loan sharks” Sonkin and Berg’s recent targets were all people in vulnerable situations, including the Plaintiffs in the current case who operate a national advocacy for veterans.

Originally from Brooklyn, New Yorker Sonkin’s office is now in Bellevue, Washington. He is the founding partner of the Bellevue-based law firm Sonkin and Schrempp, although Schrempp is listed on the Washington State Bar Association’s website as “inactive.” Mr. Sonkin and his wife Netta Diane Sonkin reside in Kirkland, Washington.

The Sonkin’s alleged accomplice Berg, originally from California, has a long history of loan fraud, domestic violence, and harassment according to King County, WA and Thurston County, WA court records. At least three separate restraining orders have been issued against Berg in the greater Seattle area. An investigation is currently underway of Berg’s former activities in California and other states.

Although the primary basis of Sonkin and Berg’s scheme is the fraudulent conversion of loans from owner-occupied to commercial, the loan fraud was also based on notary fraud according to federal court records. Berg was previously sued in Pierce County, Washington for fraudulently transferring properties to himself based on self-notarized documents.

Acting both as lender Berg’s personal counsel and trustee in the foreclosure and sale of the property, the current federal suit presents evidence that the Bellevue, Washington lawyer Sonkin also fraudulently self-notarized documents – including real estate trust documents – to commit the alleged loan fraud.

Before 2008, home loan lenders were widely engaged in predatory loan practices. After the home loan bubble burst in 2009, many state and federal laws were written to protect homeowners. The federal government has since increased investigation and prosecution of fraudulent home loans.

The Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) was created in 2009 and has pursued an aggressive, coordinated effort to prosecute financial crimes. It now consists of more than 20 agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, and has been highly effective in combating loan fraud.

Since its formation, the task force has increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities. The Justice Department has filed more than 15,000 financial fraud cases against over 20,000 defendants including more than 4,700 mortgage fraud defendants.

“The Sonkin/Berg loan fraud and the Emiel Kandi loan shark case have several similarities,” said attorney John Scannell. “And like the Kandi case, Berg has also been active in Pierce County, Washington. Loan conversion is an increasingly common type of home loan fraud,” he said.

The Kandi case was investigated by the Puget Sound Mortgage Fraud Working Group, whose members include the FBI, the Department of Housing and Urban Development—Office of Inspector General, the Washington Department of Financial Institutions (DFI), and the Washington State Department of Licensing.

The Kandi case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Brian Werner and Special Assistant United States Attorney Hugo Torres. Mr. Torres is a King County Deputy Prosecutor specially funded by the Washington Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) to handle mortgage fraud cases in state and federal court.

“It’s not business as usual with loan fraud. The FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office were highly successfully in their investigation and criminal prosecution of Mr. Kandi, who is now serving five years in federal prison,” Mr. Scannell said.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office could not be reached for comment as to whether criminal charges will be filed against Irv Sonkin, Netta Sonkin and Louis Berg.

For more information on how to report financial crimes, visit


Photo Source: Web site of law firm of Sonkin and Schrempp.


Quote verification: John Scannell   email:

Phone: (425) 270-0585


Contact for Irv Sonkin and Netta Diane Sonkin:

Office: (425) 289-3443

Office address: 12715 Bel-Red Rd #150, Bellevue, WA 98005

Home address:  312 5th Ave, #101, Kirkland, WA 98033


Contact for Lou Berg:

Cell: (425) 652-3454

Home: (425) 643-2613

Address: 9313 SE 36th St., Mercer Island, WA 98040


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