Agent Admits Short Sale Fraud

admin —  February 12, 2010 — 2 Comments

Sergio Natera, 35, Bridgeport, Connecticut, a licensed real estate agent, pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud stemming from his involvement in a “short sale” mortgage fraud scheme.

As previously reported on Mortgage Fraud Blog, according to court documents and statements made in court, Natera worked with another real estate agent to defraud Regions Bank, which held two mortgages on a residential property in Bridgeport, Connecticut. On December 5, 2007, the other real estate agent, who was a listing agent for the property, received an offer to purchase the property for a price of $132,500. However, Natera subsequently communicated to Regions Bank that the highest offer to purchase the property was for $102,375 by BOS Asset Management, LLC, an entity that Natera controlled. The bank agreed to a short sale of the property for the lower price, and released its mortgages on the property.

On June 9, 2008, Natera, through BOS Asset Management, sold the property for $132,500 to the original bidder on the property.

Natera is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge Janet C. Hall on April 30, 2010, at which time he faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 30 years, a fine of up to $1 million, and an order of restitution.

This matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ann M. Nevins.

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2 responses to Agent Admits Short Sale Fraud

  1. I ran into another short sale fraud scheme recently, attempted by a not too dumb seller. I was going to be retained by the seller to write a contract and close on the sale of $150K of the seller’s antiques in his residence. I learned (the broker had loose lips) that the seller’s house was in foreclosure. I then became aware that there was a contract for the sale of the residence, but I was not retained to do that contract and closing, a rather unusual circumstance. This was going to be a short sale, and I did a computer court search of pending actions and verified a foreclosure had been commenced. The sale of personal property does not have to be shown on the HUD, so the lender allowing a short sale would then be none the wiser about the $150k side transaction. The attorney for the seller knew nothing about the side deal. The buyer (and his attorney) knew the whole scheme. The seller said he had an appraisal for his “antiques” which was as spurious as the sale of the residence (which was being sold for $2,000,000 – affordable housing here). I then declined to participate further, and advised the other attorneys (especially the buyer’s attorney) that this was a HUD fraud, and a disbarment matter if he proceeded. The deal collapsed.

    The warning is to inquire whether there is any connected transaction to the short sale.

  2. As a buyer, I believe I am going through a similar situation with a Selling Agent.

    I’m drawing near in closing on a buying a home: finalizing on the negotiations, removals of contingencies, etc. During the back-and-forth of negotiations and several Request for Extensions (twice on seller’s side, once on my side) I came upon some interesting facts about the seller and the selling agent during my search on them.

    I was made aware that the seller happens to be a business entity owning the house I want to purchase. However, I happen to find out that the “seller/business entity” is actually managed by a licensed Realtor and happens to be the husband to the selling agent! Both of them are also owners to “XYZ-Realty.

    Note: The selling agent did disclosed that they are related during disclosures, but after I signed the RPA.

    But I feel I have been duped in some way. That the “sellers” are actually both the Realtor and Selling Agent. They bought the house for $180K from Indy-mac and weeks later listed the house for $300+k. When my Realtor inquired about the house, she told me that there were other bidders that I would need to come in the 400+K to be considered. So I did, even at 5K more.

    So upon these latest finding, I feel that they are doing something illegal here…their intent is personal gain from this transaction, breaching their Realtor Code of Ethics, and perhaps there were no other bidders at the time, that she inflated the price upon me inquiring about the house.

    I truly like the house, but I don’t want to be involved in illegal transactions AND be robbed at the same time. Are they doing something unethical and illegal (short sale fraud)? What should I do? Please advise!!

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