Guilty Plea in Advance Fee Scheme

Rachel Dollar —  September 8, 2015 — Leave a comment

Ann Elizabeth Ursiny, a/k/a Ann Stone, 51, Florida, pleaded guilty to 19 counts of mail fraud and 17 counts of wire fraud all in connection with a fraudulent advance fee scheme involving approximately 100 victims throughout the United States, including many in Massachusetts in which individuals were induced to pay up-front fees to Ursiny and her entity Trace Financial Group, Inc.  based on representations that those individuals would receive real estate loans, when in fact Ursiny never intended to make any such loans. Ursiny was indicted in May 2014. U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Stearns scheduled sentencing for December 9, 2015. Ursiny’s codefendant, Robert O’Connor, pleaded guilty in June 2015 to participating in the same scheme by recruiting victims to apply for loans and pay the advance fees. O’Connor is scheduled to be sentenced on March 23, 2016.

From early 2010 to 2011, Ursiny recruited agents, including O’Connor, in several states to solicit individuals to apply for real estate loans through Trace and pay the advance fees. In return, the agents were paid a portion of those advance fees. Ursiny told prospective victims that Trace had successfully processed and disbursed many loans, when, in fact, none were ever disbursed. Ursiny focused the scheme on prospective applicants who had poor credit or whose homes were underwater, and represented that Trace could replace their mortgage with a new, smaller mortgage with lower mortgage interest payments. In fact, Trace never funded any of the loans, and failed to pay refunds as promised. Victims’ funds were used for Ursiny’s personal and family expenses, and to pay “commissions” to agents.

The charging statutes each provide a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division, made the announcement today. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark J. Balthazard of Ortiz’s Economic Crimes Unit.

Rachel Dollar

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