Ifeanyichukwu Eric Abakporo, 52, a Nigerian citizen, now a resident of Queens, New York, and a pastor at a Bible Church, has been sentenced to six years in prison for his role in a real estate fraud scheme wherein he swindled a multi-million dollar property from an elderly woman.
As previously reported by Mortgage Fraud Blog, Abakporo was indicted along with Latanya Pierce, 43, Brooklyn, New York, for swindling an elderly woman out of her multi-million dollar property in Harlem, New York, that she had owned for more than 40 years, and then deceiving a bank into giving them a $1.8 million mortgage loan secured by the property. Abakporo was arrested in Queens, New York, and Pierce was arrested after voluntarily surrendering to the FBI.
On July 26, 2013, both defendants were found guilty by a federal jury. Abakporo was sentenced on May 28, 2014.
As alleged in the Indictment unsealed in Manhattan federal court:
Beginning in March 2006, Abakporo, a lawyer with an office in Brooklyn, New York, and Pierce, who worked for Abakporo, cultivated a relationship with an elderly woman (“the Victim”) who owned a residential apartment building worth millions of dollars located at 1070 St. Nicholas Avenue, Harlem, New York (the “Property”). As part of the fraud scheme, Abakporo and Pierce earned the Victim’s trust by, among other things, offering to help her manage the Property. This included collecting rent from its tenants on her behalf. However, instead of providing the Victim with the renters’ money, Abakporo and Pierce pocketed it.
Abakporo and Pierce then convinced the Victim to sell her property to them for $3.1 million. While they contracted to buy the property for that amount, at the closing, they presented the Victim with multiple fake and fraudulent checks to make it appear as if they had paid the contracted sale amount, when in fact they had not. Moreover, after the Victim’s attorney had left the closing, Abakporo and Pierce fraudulently induced her to return all of the checks to them by representing that they would safeguard her money and give her a “private mortgage” in the Property, which they explained would include monthly payments made to her based on the money she had effectively loaned them.
As part of the scheme, Abakporo and Pierce signed and provided the Victim with a written agreement representing that she had loaned them approximately $1.9 million and in return held a “private mortgage” in the Property.
Unbeknownst to the Victim, Abakporo and Pierce never recorded the private mortgage and subsequently submitted a fraudulent application to Washington Mutual Bank seeking a $1.8 mortgage loan secured by the Property. Abakporo and Pierce never disclosed to the bank that the Victim already held a private mortgage on the Property. Instead, Abakporo and Pierce falsely represented to the bank that they had purchased the Property for $3.1 million and owned it “free and clear.” Based on those, and other, fraudulent representations, Abakporo and Pierce obtained a $1.8 million mortgage loan from the bank, which they failed to repay.
As a result of the alleged fraud, the defendants obtained substantially all of the Victim’s assets, and $1.8 million in fraudulently obtained mortgage proceeds. The Property went into default.