10 Indicted For Rebate and Straw Buyer Scam

Allison Tussey —  June 24, 2009 — Leave a comment

Ten defendants were charged with one or more counts of wire fraud in a 23-count indictment returned June 16, 2009, and unsealed after several defendants were arrested in connection with an alleged mortgage fraud scheme involving seven condominiums and two penthouses at “Millennium Centre,” 33 West Ontario, Chicago. The developer of the 59-story building containing some 350 luxury residences offered units ranging in price from approximately $618,500 to $2.1 million.  The defendants include:

Mhde Askar, 23, Chicago, Illinois;

Mamoud Saleh, 35, Hinsdale, Illinois;

Advar Shaltapour, aka “Eddie Shaltapour,” 39, Chicago, Illnois;

Manuel Aguilar, 48, Chicago, Illinois;

Catherine Kirk, 43, Chicago, Illinois;

Warren McKeithen, 48;

Nancy S. Praseuth, 32, Huntley, Illinois;

Margarita Garcia, 34, Elk Grove, Illinois;

David Ibarra, 43, Chicago, Illinois; and

Ahmad Karkukly, 33, Palatine, Illinois.

Askar and Saleh operated M&M Millennium Management Company and participated in an incentive program offered by Millennium Centre‘s developer, through which M&M received from the developer at the time of purchase a rebate equal to up to three years of mortgage payments, without being required to return any of the rebated money if M&M sold the unit within the three-year period.

Between July 2004 and December 2006, Askar, Saleh and their co-defendants allegedly fraudulently obtained more than $17.2 million in loans to purchase the nine Millennium Centre units. Askar and Saleh purchased the units in Askar‘s name or the name of nominee buyers to obtain a rapid and high financial return through the rebated mortgage payments, and then resold the units at increased prices to nominee buyers through fraudulently obtained mortgages, retaining both the rebated mortgage payments and the resale profits.

Askar, Saleh, Shaltapour, Aguilar, Kirk, McKeithen, Praseuth, Garcia, and Ibarra either recruited others or served as nominee buyers by promising or being promised that they would not have to provide any of their own money, they would received cash back at closing, others would make mortgage payments on their behalf, and the property would be in their name for only approximately a year before it was sold.

Askar, Saleh, Aguilar, Kirk and McKeithen submitted and caused others to submit false mortgage loan applications concerning nominee buyer’s employment, income, assets and intention to occupy the residence being purchased, including to Karkukly, who was a loan officer at Countrywide Home Loans, Inc. Karkukly allegedly used his position to obtain approval of fraudulent loan applications on behalf of Askar, Praseuth, and Garcia, among others.

Askar, Shaltapour and Karkukly were released on bond after being arrested on these charges. Saleh remains in federal custody pending a detention hearing. Arrest warrants are outstanding for Aguilar and Ibarra, while Kirk, McKeithen, Praseuth and Garcia will be ordered to appear for arraignment at a later date in U.S. District Court.

The indictment seeks forfeiture of $17,203,221 from the defendants.

The Government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Diane MacArthur.

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Allison Tussey

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