Archives For Mortgage Fraud

Sergio Garcia, Sr., 50, Chicago, Illinois and Sergio Garcia, Jr., 30, of Lowell, Indianapolis were sentenced on their guilty pleas to conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

According to documents in the case, between January 1, 2011 and May 31, 2014, the Garcias conspired with others to engage in a scheme to defraud HUD and to obtain money and property by means of false pretenses, representations and promises.  The scheme involved contracting with HUD to buy more than 87 homes in Indiana and Illinois and attempting to sell them for a profit the same day. The purchase contracts the conspirators provided to HUD stated that they or one of their businesses were purchasing the properties as investors and would pay with cash or use other financing not involving FHA. To support their claimed ability to pay for the homes, the conspirators mailed fraudulent letters purporting to show that they or their company had access to the funds needed to complete each purchase.  Many of the letters purported to be written by a private venture capital business and falsely stated that the Garcias or their business held a line of credit of up to $500,000.00, when in fact, as the conspirators well knew: the letters were forged and counterfeited; the lines of credit referenced therein did not exist; and the signatures thereon were forged and unauthorized.

Once under contract to purchase homes from HUD, the conspirators advertised the homes for subsequent resale and placed their own “for sale” signs at the homes. When the conspirators could not find a subsequent purchaser to buy the homes, they allowed their purchase contracts with HUD to expire and filed false liens on the homes for the full purchase price, impeding HUD’s ability to sell the homes to others. In some instances, the conspirators demanded money from would-be subsequent purchasers to release the false liens on the HUD-owned homes.

Garcia, Sr. was sentenced to serve 70 months in prison followed by 2 years of supervised release and was ordered to pay $471,571.06 in restitution to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) and $3,862 in restitution to other victims of his crime.

Garcia, Jr. was sentenced to serve 18 months in prison followed by 1 year of supervised release and was ordered to pay $24,819.53 in restitution to HUD and $202.25 to other victims of his crime

This sentencing serves as an example that when housing professionals defraud the system of rules sponsored by  HUD, the HUD Office of Inspector General will continue to partner with both the U. S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI to pursue those individuals to ensure the integrity of its federal housing programs.

If you attempt to defraud the system and violate public trust, we will find you, we will investigate you, and we will ensure you are held accountable for your illegal actions,” said Special Agent in Charge Grant Mendenhall, FBI Indianapolis. “Today’s sentence should serve as a warning to others that the FBI and our partners will continue to pursue those who would seek to blatantly commit fraud.”

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the HUD Office of Inspector General.  The case was handled by Assistant United States Attorney Jill R. Koster.

 

Ruby Price, 74, Bonner Springs, Kansas was sentenced today to a year and a day in prison for swindling homeowners facing foreclosure with false promises to help them save their homes

Price was a managing partner of Arize Group, a company based in Overland Park, Kansas. http://www.mortgagefraudblog.com/?s=Ruby+Price

She and co-defendants took money from distressed homeowners by fraudulently promising to:

  • Lower their interest rates.
  • Lower their monthly payments
  • Help them obtain loan modifications.

Price pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud.

U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister made the announcement.

McAllister commended the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of Inspector General, the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General, the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Emilie Burdette and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jabari Wamble for their work on the case.

Angela Grace Cotton, 47, Denaysha Coleman, 27, Lawrence Edward Cotton, 52 have been sentenced for running a sophisticated real estate fraud scheme that resulted in the theft of more than $1.4 million from 2014 to 2016.

From July 2014 through September 2016, Cotton, assisted by her co-defendants, used fictitious escrow and title companies that she had created to deceive a lending company into believing it was funding two legitimate real estate transactions.

The group stole the identities of nine people in order to facilitate the fictitious real estate sales. Along with the fake escrow and title companies, the defendants created a fictitious place of employment for one supposed homebuyer under whose name the two loans were approved, the prosecutor said.

To convince the lender of the legitimacy of the transactions and the entities involved, the defendants created fraudulent websites, emails and phone networks along with fake employment documentation and bank account statements from a non-existent financial institution for the borrower.

The lender transferred funds to a bank account it believed to be owned by a legitimate title company but was allegedly owned by one of the defendants.

The properties for which the defendants received loans were located in Los Angeles and La Cañada Flintridge and had not been listed for sale, the prosecutor added.

Cotton was sentenced yesterday to 12 years in state prison after pleading no contest to three counts of identity theft, two counts of grand theft and one count each of forgery and money laundering, all felonies.

Coleman was sentenced to three years and eight months in state prison after pleading no contest to one felony count each of grand theft and money laundering.

Cotton was sentenced to two years in state prison after pleading no contest to one felony count each of grand theft and money laundering.

All three defendants admitted allegations of fraud and embezzlement resulting in the loss of more than $500,000.

They are required to pay more than $1.4 million in restitution under the terms of a negotiated plea agreement.

A fourth defendant, Latrese Gevon Breaux, 47, pleaded no contest on February 14, 2019 to one felony count each of grand theft and identity theft, and she admitted an allegation of fraud and embezzlement.

She is expected to be sentenced to five years of formal probation and 106 days in county jail for time served on December 4, 2019 in Department 50 of the Foltz Criminal Justice Center. She also is required to complete 200 hours of community service under the terms of a plea agreement.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office made the announcement today.

Deputy District Attorney Daniel Kinney of the White Collar Crime Division’s Real Estate Fraud Section prosecuted case BA472018.

The case was investigated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Fraud and Cyber Crimes Bureau.

View PDF

Latrice Calvin, 48, Collierville, Tennessee was sentenced in connection with a scheme to defraud mortgage lending institutions and individuals of more than $1.5 million dollars.

According to the information, between April 2016, and October 2018, Calvin, through her company, Trinity Home and Investments, made false statements and representations to mortgage lenders and individuals to induce them to fund mortgage loans and invest monies with Trinity.

Calvin entered a plea of guilty to a one-count information charging her with wire fraud in May 2019.

On October 18, 2019, United States District Judge John T. Fowlkes, Jr., sentenced Calvin to 75 months imprisonment followed by 4 years of supervised release. She was also ordered to pay restitution to the lenders and investors in the total amount of $1,524,564.28 and to pay a money judgment to the United States in the same amount.

U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant announced the sentence today.

U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant said, “Financial fraud can happen anywhere, and can be devastating to lending institutions and individual investors. The defendant used her position of trust and authority to steal proceeds for her personal benefit, and her dishonesty has been exposed. We are pleased that justice has been achieved on behalf of the victims, and we commend the FBI for their outstanding investigation in this disturbing case. Wherever fraud occurs in the Western District of Tennessee, this office will be prepared to hold offenders accountable.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated this case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Carroll L. André III prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.

Nuhu (aka Nurden aka Noah) Mohammed, 60, Foxborough, Massachusetts has been indicted, arrested, and arraigned today in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme that largely targeted immigrant families.

The AG’s Office alleges that between October 2012 and July 2019, Mohammed repeatedly represented himself as a mortgage broker or lawyer, promising victims that he could provide assistance in securing mortgages and/or loan modifications. While Mohammed allegedly collected thousands of dollars from these victims, many of whom were at risk of foreclosure, he did not provide any meaningful assistance in securing these mortgages or modifying loans. He also allegedly directed his clients to forward all correspondence between clients and loan servicers to him and asked any letters to remain unopened to prevent them from discovering that he had not provided any assistance.

As a result of these alleged actions, one affected family lost two properties to foreclosure, and all of the victims lost significant amounts of money. Investigators allege that Mohammed primarily targeted immigrant families and exploited their lack of knowledge about the residential mortgage and/or loan modification process, as well as their limited English language proficiency, to steal from them.

The AG’s Office also alleges that Mohammed used the personal identifying information of one of his victims to open two credit cards in her name without her knowledge or consent.

In total, the AG’s Office alleges that Mohammed stole $152,333 from clients, including the money that he charged on the alleged fraudulent credit cards.

Mohammed was arrested on Thursday by Massachusetts State Police assigned to the AG’s Office in Boston. He was arraigned today in Norfolk Superior Court and was held on $50,000 bail. He was ordered to have no contact with the victims, and if he posts bail, he will be required to meet weekly with probation officers and not leave the state. He is due to appear in Norfolk Superior Court on November 15, 2019 for a status hearing.

Mohammed was indicted by a Statewide Grand Jury on the charges of Larceny Over $250 (1 count), Larceny Over $250 by Single Scheme (6 counts), Larceny Over $1,200 by Single Scheme (3 counts), Forgery (1 count), Uttering (1 count), Identity Fraud (2 counts), False Material Statements or Omissions During or In Connection with Mortgage Lending Process (4 counts), Fraudulent Use of Credit Cards to Obtain Money, Goods or Services (2 counts), and Common and Notorious Thief (1 count).

Attorney General Maura Healey made the announced.

This case was referred to the AG’s Office by the Stoughton Police Department.

These charges are allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

This investigation is ongoing, and the AG’s Office believes that this defendant has used several aliases to hide his identity. If any member of the public believes they may have been victimized by this conduct or has any information relating to others who may have been victimized, they are encouraged to contact the White Collar and Public Integrity Division of the Attorney General’s Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Gretchen Brodigan and Assistant Attorney General Sara Yoffe, of the AG’s White Collar and Public Integrity Division, with assistance from Financial Investigator Anthony Taylor, Victim Witness Advocate Megan Murphy, the AGO’s Digital Evidence Lab, Massachusetts State Police assigned to the AG’s Office, and the Stoughton Police Department.

Steven Rogers, Robert Sedlar, and Audrey Gan, the operators of Grand View Financial, were indicted today on a 121-count felony indictment for allegedly operating a mortgage fraud scheme throughout California.

The victims, many of whom were elderly and in financial distress, sought mortgage relief services from Grand View Financial in the Counties of San Diego, San Mateo, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Joaquin, Placer, Solano, Mendocino, San Francisco, El Dorado, and Sacramento.

Between 2015 and 2019, the defendants allegedly conspired to steal money and homes from distressed homeowners using a company called Grand View Financial. The company launched a mortgage and foreclosure assistance program that advertised assistance to desperate homeowners facing foreclosure. The defendants promised consumers that if they transferred their house and paid money to Grand View Financial, the company would eliminate the mortgage lien and deed the home back to the homeowner, clear of any liens. During this time, the defendants allegedly filed false court proceedings, false documents with the county recorders offices, and false bankruptcies.

The trio was indicted by a grand jury in the Sacramento Superior Court for conspiracy, grand theft, elder abuse, filing false or forged documents in a public office, and engaging in a prohibited act as a foreclosure consultant.  The scheme resulted in a combined loss of over $7 million.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra made the announcement.

Individuals who prey on vulnerable communities to enrich themselves will be held accountable by the California Department of Justice,” said Attorney General Becerra. “My office will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to identify and prosecute those who disregard the rule of law.”

The indictment and arrests are the result of a joint investigation by the California Department of Justice, Fraud and Special Prosecutions Section and White Collar Crime Team; the United States Office of Inspector General, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation; the United States Office of Inspector General, Federal Housing Finance Agency; the United States Trustee Program; the United States Marshals Service; the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office; and the El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office.

Attorney General Becerra is committed to protecting Californians from mortgage fraud and other financial crimes. If you believe you may have been targeted by Grand View Financial, please contact the California Department of Justice. For those located in California, please call: 1-800-952-5225. For those located outside of California, please call: 1-916-322-3360.

It is important to note that a criminal indictment contains charges that must be proven in a court of law. Every defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

A copy of the indictment can be found here.

Two comment letters urging the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) not to adopt two new rules, which would undermine the ability to enforce fair lending laws and prevent discrimination against communities of color in the mortgage lending market, were submitted by New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Fair lending laws are essential to protecting consumers from discriminatory lending practices,” said Attorney General James. “Both of CFPB’s proposed rules would undermine our ability to hold bad-acting lenders responsible for their actions. My office is committed to keeping provisions in place to ensure that almost a century of racism in mortgage lending is eradicated and that all Americans have access to sustainable homeownership.”

The first letter, signed by 13 attorneys general, challenges a May 2019 CFPB proposal limiting the data financial institutions are required to report to the CFPB under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA), a 1975 law that requires mortgage lenders to make certain mortgage data publicly available as a check to ensure compliance with fair lending laws. Some of this data includes information which lenders already collect to comply with other regulations as well as their own underwriting standards.

Now, the CFPB is soliciting comments on which data fields should be eliminated from reporting. By hiding important data points, the CFPB gives a windfall to financial institutions who will be able to resume predatory lending practices, and it will impede the government’s efforts to prevent another financial crisis brought about by predatory lending.

The second letter focuses on the state specific impact regarding another May 2019 CFPB proposal to the reporting threshold for mortgage lenders under HMDA. A preliminary review of the 2018 data shows that even with a slight increase to the threshold limit, New York loses essential data pertaining to local lending, or lenders that lend in one city or town.

By increasing the HMDA reporting threshold, the CFPB makes it difficult for the public and public officials to bring disparate impact discrimination claims, a decades-old theory of liability that has been instrumental in ending discrimination. If adopted, the changes in reporting thresholds would exempt large swaths of the mortgage lending industry from the obligation to report HMDA data.

With these two proposed rule changes, the CFPB fails to take into consideration the negative impact the relaxed reporting requirements will have on the ability to analyze local lending practices and hold lenders accountable for violations of fair lending laws.

New York Attorney General James argues that these changes undermine the core functions of the HMDA. The Attorney General also criticized the CFPB for reversing its prior position that such higher thresholds and the absence of certain data points would impede the public and public officials’ ability to ensure that mortgage lending was being conducted in a non-discriminatory manner in their communities. In addition to these substantive challenges to the CFPB’s proposed rule regarding the increased thresholds, the New York Attorney General James also maintains that it violates the Administrative Procedure Act since it fails to take into the consideration the cost of the proposed rule on the states.

Joining the New York Attorney General James in signing the first letter challenging the proposed rule to limit the data lenders are required to report to the CFPB are the attorneys generals of California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.

 

Sara Cordry, 69, Overland Park, Kansas, was found guilty on Monday of taking part in a scheme to swindle homeowners facing foreclosure with false promises to help them save their homes.

During trial, prosecutors presented evidence that Cordry conspired with co-defendants to take money from victims by fraudulently promising to:

  • Lower their interest rates.
  • Lower their monthly payments.
  • Help them obtain loan modifications.

Investigators identified more than 500 victims in 24 states who suffered a total loss of more than $1 million due to the scheme.

Co-defendants include:

  • Tyler Korn, 30, St. Ann, Missouri, who was sentenced to 51 months in federal prison.
  • Ruby Price, 74, Bonner Springs, Kansas, who is awaiting sentencing.
  • Amjad Daud, 35, Lutz, Florida, who failed to appear at court hearings. A warrant for his arrest has been issued.

Cordry’s sentencing is set for January 9, 2020. She could face up to 30 years in federal prison and a fine up to $1 million on each count.

U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister made the announcement.

McAllister commended the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of Inspector General, the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General, the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Emilie Burdette and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jabari Wamble for their work on the case.

 

James Ignatius Diamond, 69, Riverside, California was sentenced today for defrauding hundreds of victims, mainly distressed homeowners who paid thousands of dollars after attending seminars that promoted a “Free and Clear” program pitched by the defendant and his salespeople.

Between 2010 and 2013, Diamond sold fraudulent debt-elimination services to desperate victims whose finances had been ravaged by the Great Recession. Diamond owned and operated a number of businesses, including the Riverside, California based Transmitting Assets Inc., Operation Safe Haven, Buyer Beware, and Unlimited Logistics Corp., through which he fraudulently offered services that he claimed could wipe out the debts of homeowners behind on their mortgage payments and other debts.

Diamond personally pitched the “Diamond Home Reclamation Method” to solicit victims with false promises that his methods would entirely eliminate their mortgages and allow people to own their homes “free and clear.”

Relying on the false representations, victims paid substantial fees, including an upfront fee, typically $3,500, payable only in cash, money orders or cashier’s checks, periodic program fees, and inflated notary fees. After paying the upfront fee, victims were required to sign and notarize documents, which they were instructed to send to financial institutions and government agencies, documents prosecutors described in court documents as “fraudulent and nonsensical.”

When victims of the scheme in 2011 began receiving mortgage default notices and lost their homes, Diamond launched another debt-elimination scam called the “EFT Program,” under which Diamond claimed to be able to eliminate victims’ debt with “EFT” checks. This scam required victims to pay Diamond 13 percent of the debt that was to be eliminated.

Diamond knew that his methods did nothing to discharge debts. In fact, when FBI agents searched his business in 2013, they recovered hundreds of “rejection letters” from financial institutions indicating that documents submitted as part of the debt-elimination programs did nothing to help the victims. Diamond’s email accounts contained numerous complaints and refund requests from victims, all of which he ignored.

Investigators have identified more than 500 victims who suffered losses of at least $1.6 million. Diamond spent victims’ money on luxury hotels, jewelry, alcoholic beverages, and living expenses.

At the conclusion of a six-day trial in June 2019, Diamond was found guilty by a jury of 15 counts of mail fraud affecting a financial institution and 15 counts of wire fraud affecting a financial institution.

Previously in this case, a Diamond associate,  Tricia Mae Gruber, 43, Riverside, California, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and admitted helping operate the scheme. Her sentencing hearing is scheduled for October 21, 2019.

This case was investigated by the FBI.

This matter was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Marina A. Torres of the International Narcotics, Money Laundering, and Racketeering Section and Kevin B. Reidy of the General Crimes Section.

 

Moctezuma “Mo” Tovar, 50, Sacramento, California, Jun Michael Dirain, 47, Antelope, California and Sandra Hermosillo, 57, Woodland, California were sentenced today for conspiring to commit wire fraud in a mortgage fraud scheme.

According to court documents, Tovar was the founder and president of Delta Homes and Lending Inc., a now-defunct Sacramento, California-based real estate and mortgage lending company. Delta Homes opened one office in 2003 and eventually had several offices in Sacramento and Woodland, California. As the president of Delta Homes, Tovar managed the day-to-day operations of the company and prepared and submitted residential home loan applications on behalf of Delta Homes’ clients. Dirain was a loan processor at Delta Homes, and Hermosillo was a loan officer at the Woodland office and was also responsible for submitting residential home loan applications on behalf of clients.

Between October 2004 and May 2007, Tovar, Dirain, and Hermosillo conspired along with others to obtain home loans from mortgage lenders based upon false and fraudulent loan applications and supporting documents that falsely represented the borrowers’ assets and income, liabilities and debts, and employment status. They provided money to the borrowers in order to inflate their bank account balances. Once the loans were secured, the borrowers returned the money to the defendants. The aggregate sale price of the homes involved in the overall conspiracy was in excess of $10 million. As a result of the conspiracy, mortgage lenders and others suffered losses of at least $4 million. http://www.mortgagefraudblog.com/?s=Jun+Michael+Dirain

Tovar was sentenced to four years and six months in prison, Dirain was sentenced to six months in prison, followed by six months of home detention; and Hermosillo was sentenced to nine months of home detention.

Co-defendant Christian Parada Renteria, 43, formerly of Sacramento, California pleaded guilty to two counts of concealing felonies related to the wire fraud conspiracy, and was previously sentenced to serve one year in prison.

Co-defendant Manuel Herrera, 39, Davis, California pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and co-defendants Jaime Mayorga, 40, and Ruben Rodriguez, 42, both of Sacramento, California, were convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud at a jury trial.

Herrera will be sentenced by Judge Shubb on a date to be determined. Mayorga and Rodriguez will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez on November 5, 2019. Each defendant faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott made the announcement.

This case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian A. Fogerty and Justin L. Lee prosecuted the case.