Man Pleads Guilty to Straw Buyer Scam

Allison Tussey —  October 27, 2010 — Leave a comment

Zack Zafer Dyab 46, Golden Valley, Minnesota, pleaded guilty earlier today in federal court in Minneapolis to orchestrating a mortgage fraud scheme that resulted in the theft of more than $2.5 million from lenders nationally. Dyab pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of money laundering in connection to the crime. The scheme centered on obtaining fraudulent loans for the purchase of 24 homes in the Twin Cities, Minnesota. Dyab appeared before United States District Court Judge Joan N. Ericksen and was indicted along with Julia Alexander Rozhansky, 46, Minnetonka, Mnnesota, on December 8, 2009.

In his plea agreement, Dyab admitted that from 2003 through early 2007, he conspired with Rozhansky and others to induce through fraudulent means numerous mortgage lenders throughout the U.S. to loan substantial sums of money to unindicted co-conspirators, who happened to be relatives of Rozhansky. Dyab also admitted stealing large amounts of loan proceeds for his personal use.

At the time, Dyab owned American Choice Lending, Inc., a mortgage brokerage company. Rozhansky was his assistant and had supervisory authority over the company’s loan officers and loan processors. To further the fraud scheme, Dyab often arranged for straw buyers to purchase properties at inflated prices from him or companies he owned. In other instances, he had straw buyers purchase properties at inflated prices from third-party sellers. After those sales, Dyab and Rozhansky purportedly caused the sellers to pay them a portion of the sale proceeds. In addition, Dyab sometimes had a real estate broker receive so-called real estate commissions from the transactions, which the broker then would sign over to Dyab.

In each transaction, Dyab admitted submitting a mortgage loan application that greatly exaggerated the monthly income and bank account balance of the straw buyer. On occasion, he also deposited funds into the bank account of a straw buyer in an effort to trick the lender into believing that the buyer had substantial liquidity. In addition, Dyab routinely provided straw buyers with money to bring to transaction closings, to be passed off as “down payments.”

Moreover, he led lenders to believe that the straw buyers intended to live in the homes they were purchasing, when, in fact, he knew they actually planned to sell the homes to third-party straw buyers within a year. The third-party straw buyers then would default on the mortgage loans.

On February 15, 2005, at the conclusion of one of these real estate transactions, Dyab obtained $63,938.94 in seller proceeds by forging the seller’s name on the back of the proceed check. He then deposited the check into his own bank account. Then, on February 17, 2005, Dyab used $15,000 of those funds to purchase a cashier’s check.

For his crimes, Dyab faces a potential maximum penalty of five years in prison on the conspiracy charge and ten years on the money laundering charge. Judge Ericksen will determine his sentence at a future hearing, yet to be scheduled. Rozhansky also pled guilty before Judge Ericksen. She, too, will be sentenced at a future hearing.

This case is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David J. MacLaughlin.

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Allison Tussey

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