Diane H. Frederick Atari, 43, Ashburn, Virginia, who fled the United States after being indicted in July 2009 for a mortgage fraud scheme, has been extradited from Turkey, completing a years-long effort by the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office and the Virginia Office of the Attorney General to bring her to justice. Atari is charged with fraudulently fixing her clients’ credit and inflating their incomes on financial records to qualify them for homes they could not afford. Atari is alleged to have personally netted in excess of $1 million from the scheme, with the total loss on the fraudulently obtained mortgages estimated at over $50 million. She was arraigned in Loudoun County Circuit Court.
Atari owned and operated ACR Consulting Co. and Atari Management Co., both located in Loudoun County, Virginia. She offered “rent-to-own” services to customers who were seeking home ownership. Typically, these clients were unable to qualify for mortgages due to bad credit or low income. Atari signed agreements with the applicants with the understanding that ACR Consulting would attempt to fix their credit.
Initially, clients signed agreements with no up-front charges, with monies only being exchanged at the home closings. Eventually, Atari began charging clients an up-front fee to cover expenses.
Atari apparently worked with her clients’ creditors to pay off their debts, often for less than face value. Atari usually paid the debts with her own funds, which would be returned to her upon the home closings. To enhance credit scores, Atari apparently would advise credit card companies to add her clients as “authorized users” to her associates’ credit accounts. Her associates’ good credit would increase the clients’ credit scores.
Atari also falsified her clients’ employment and other documents, inflating their financial status to the point that they could qualify for a mortgage. In some cases, she even deposited her own funds into the clients’ bank accounts to show higher balances.
Once mortgages were approved, Atari would accompany her clients to the closings. Sometimes clients would balk at the large monthly payments required under the fraudulently secured mortgages. Atari would then agree to help them make payments until such time as she could arrange a refinance at lower interest rates to reduce the payments.
In addition to recovering the money she fronted, Atari received a commission upon the sale of the home and a fee for credit repair. She also allegedly took a percentage of the fees paid at closing for brokering the services. Most of the homes were unaffordable for her clients and destined for foreclosure.
Following a year-long investigation, Atari was indicted on July 13, 2009, in Loudoun County Circuit Court on 10 counts of false statements to obtain credit and one count each of money laundering and racketeering.
Atari fled the country in July of 2009. Local law enforcement contacted INTERPOL to assist in locating her. She was arrested in Turkey in October 2009 and has been held there awaiting extradition. U.S. Marshals brought her back to Dulles International Airport, where she was turned over to investigators from the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office and the Virginia attorney general’s office.
The investigation was a joint effort between the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office Financial Crimes Unit and Howard Mulholland, financial investigator with the attorney general’s Financial Crimes Intelligence Center.
Sheriff Stephen O. Simpson called this case one of highest priority. “This case involved countless hours of investigation over several months by our office and the Attorney General’s office, as well as the extra effort of the prosecutors,” he said. “The teamwork has paid off and a woman who preyed on over 100 vulnerable people will now be held to account.”
“My office continues to target criminals who seek to compromise the integrity of our financial system and who do it by taking advantage of people who put their trust in them. This investigation illustrates this office’s close working relationship with local law enforcement in its efforts to protect citizens around the commonwealth from becoming victims of financial fraud,” said Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.
“This case has presented us with an unusual delay due to the defendant’s flight from the United States,” said Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Plowman. “My office has been prepared to present this criminal trial for quite some time, and on behalf of the victims of these crimes, I’m pleased we’ll now be given the opportunity to seek justice for them.”