5 Arrested for $4.5 Million Mortgage Fraud

admin —  April 17, 2009 — 5 Comments

Emerio Lima, DOB 3/25/1941, Miami, Florida, Inocencia Soto, DOB 12/28/1963, Miami, Florida, Pedro Fornos, DOB 12/14/1942, Miami, Florida, Josefa Herrera, DOB 3/19/1948, Miami, Florida, Stephen Zalka, DOB 2/14/1958, Parkland, Florida have been arrested for alleged involvement in a criminal mortgage fraud operation that defrauded several financial institutions collectively out of more than $4.5 million have been arrested. The individuals are facing charges of organized fraud, mortgage fraud and grand theft and will be prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution.

The arrest warrants were issued following a 16-month investigation conducted by the members of Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez’s Mortgage Fraud Task Force, of which the Office of Statewide Prosecution is a member.

Those arrested are believed to be recruited straw buyers who, for a fee, would lend their names and credit to purchase numerous properties. These straw buyers were told they would not have to make any mortgage payments and that the properties would be flipped in a few months. Once the property was sold, the straw buyers would be paid once again. The scheme also included a certified public accountant who provided falsified employment verification letters on behalf of the straw buyers, at the request of co-conspirators. According to authorities, this individual never represented or met with these straw buyers.

With the straw buyers lined up, title agents prepared fraudulent HUD-1 statements on behalf of other co-conspirators, then provided the statements to the lenders. A HUD-1 settlement statement is a document which informs the lenders how disbursements will be made after a loan is funded. Some of the HUD-1 statements involved in this case contained inflated sales contract prices; others included fraudulently created liens.

Upon receiving the fraudulent HUD-1 statement, a lender would fund the loan based on the inflated sales price. The title agent, acting on behalf of the other co-conspirators, would then transfer the profits into a bank account of either a third party or a shell company controlled by one of the co-conspirators.

The arrest affidavit identifies nine properties which were used by the defendants to facilitate their scheme. These properties are located in Miami-Dade, Broward, Lee and Charlotte counties, and the majority of these properties are currently in foreclosure because of the nonpayment of the loans. The criminal investigation is ongoing and additional arrests are expected.

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5 responses to 5 Arrested for $4.5 Million Mortgage Fraud

  1. The article did not indicate any notary fraud so it appears these straw buyers did in fact sign the loan documents themselves. The loan documents the straw buyers signed contained materially false information. While these slob straw borrowers may have not been the ring leader, they were without question “in” on the scam, and acording to the article, these straw borrowers participated in exchange for “a fee”.

  2. A Concerned Citizen April 19, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    And you should be ashamed (but are not) for calling all persons with Hispanic names “illegal”.

    So, did you put Hispanics through a tougher underwriting process whenever you processed their loans? You were talking about statistics at one time, justifying your statements, attempting to show why Hispanics are more prone to commiting fraud. So if you live by statistics, do you cross the street when a young black man comes your way on your side of the street? You know then that you should cross the street and avoid the young dude.

    You are just too predictable, SteveP.

  3. Confused Citizen, you should be ashamed for stereotyping Cubans based on their appearance.

  4. A Concerned Citizen April 18, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    I’d say lock you up for 100 years for being such a persistent bigot. These people are no worse than the other English-surnamed fraudsters that we read about in this blog, yet you somehow assumed (unless you have other info from somewhere else) that they are illegal aliens. Maybe they are Cuban immigrants/refugees with legal residency status? Look at Lima. He looks like all the other older Cubans that you see all over Miami. Go ahead and ask Cuba to pay for their incarceration.

    They deserve the same sentence that other non-Hispanics get. Of course, that concept is way too complicated to understand for some people, isn’t it?

  5. This bunch of illegal’s used numerous properties around Cape Coral in their scheme to rip-off mortgage lenders by tricking them into over lending on the properties and then keeping the excess proceeds without making even a single payment. I say lock them up for 100 years each and then levy a tariff on imports from their home country to pay for these slob’s incarceration.

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