Matt Garner, 34, licensed real estate appraiser, Lexington, Kentucky, was sentenced in federal court to five months in prison and five months home confinement. He was also ordered to pay a $5,500 fine. Garner pled guilty in May of 2017 to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and making false statements to a federal agency,
Garner made false statements in connection with appraisals he submitted for use by lenders in connection with federally-backed mortgages.
Garner owned and operated Lexington-based Garner & Associates. Between 2012 and 2016, his company was paid for more than 700 appraisals, on homes being purchased or refinanced in numerous counties surrounding Lexington and Owensboro, Kentucky. In his guilty plea, acknowledged that, in a significant percentage of these appraisals, he falsely certified on federal appraisal forms that he had personally visited the property and conducted the appraisal. In fact, had paid unlicensed individuals a small portion of the appraisal fee to perform the appraisals.
Senior U.S. District Court Judge Joseph M. Hood sentenced Garner. Carlton S. Shier, IV, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, and Amy S. Hess, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Louisville Field Office, announced the sentence today.
The Louisville Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ken Taylor and Kate Anderson represented the federal government
Fannie Mae came out in February 2016 with a statement that trainees can perform inspections solo as long as they are qualified. Many investors/lenders do not allow this and that is why some appraisers are forced to lie. We have seen a huge shortage of new appraisers coming into the business and the main reason is that no supervisor has the time or resources to inspect every property with the trainee.
Sending a qualified, honest individual to perform a small part of an appraisal has not bearing on tax payer money ie federally backed mortgages. Some of the things that do have an impact on these monies are; lending money to unqualified individuals. Lowering down payment requirements and credit requirements for borrowers, etc.
Kentucky is to be congratulated for prosecuting this case. This is a common practice that has to stop. In 2009, there was an appraiser in my community that was doing the same thing but also inflating the appraised values in one of the ten largest mortgage fraud cases in the U.S. Our “wimpy” FBI would not even indite him and when he was charged and found guilty by the state license board, they did not even revoke his license, instead they gave him probation. One of the lenders sued him for fraudulent appraisals and settled the suit for $1,000,000 ($500,000 to the attorneys and $500,000 to the E&O company).
This practice is going on in most areas around the country.
The appraisal fees are so low that many appraiser are forced to do this in order to stay in business. The AMC’s are taking 30-50% of the appraisal fee paid by the borrower to the bank. AMC’s are nothing but paper shufflers. The banks know this is going on and don’t care as long as the appraiser provides an appraisal that supports the sale price.