Stephen Mayer, 51, Miami, Florida, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Susan C. Bucklew to 11 years and 3 months in federal prison for his role in a real estate flipping and equity skimming conspiracy. The Court also ordered him to pay more than $3.1 million in restitution to the affected lenders, and more than $4 million in forfeiture, which were proceeds traceable to the scheme.
On January 29, 2015, a federal jury found Mayer of guilty of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and nine counts of wire fraud affecting a financial institution. Mayer was originally indicted on May 13, 2014.
According to evidence presented during the nine-day trial, Mayer used a variety of shell companies that he controlled to purchase distressed properties. He then flipped the properties the same day or within days to “credit partners” for an increased price and kept the proceeds. These “credit partners” were recruited by Mayer because they had good credit and were willing to sign documents. The partners never intended to live in the properties or make any mortgage payments. In exchange for helping him get the mortgages, Mayer would pay the down payment and the mortgage, and pay the “credit partners” a commission from his proceeds.
Mayer also facilitated the securing of mortgages, many from FDIC-insured lenders, based on false information about the borrowers’ income, employment, and assets. Mayer instructed the “credit partners” to deed the properties back to him and/or companies under his control so that he could flip them again to other “credit partners” at increased prices, thereby skimming the equity. Mayer failed to make mortgage payments as promised, and each of the properties ultimately went into foreclosure. He used the proceeds from his real estate flipping scheme to fund a lavish personal lifestyle. Agents identified more than 20 homes used by Mayer in this flipping conspiracy that took place between 2003 and 2007. The estimated loss to the lenders is more than $3.1 million.
This case was investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the United States Secret Service. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Mandy Riedel and Kelley Howard-Allen.