Christopher Adam Jensen-Tanner, 43, Roswell, New Mexico, was arraigned in federal court today on a 38-count indictment charging him with 34 counts of wire fraud and four counts of engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity.
According to the indictment and other court records, Jensen-Tanner allegedly used his position and access as owner and president of Roswell Escrow Services, Inc. (RES) to fraudulently redirect customer funds for his personal benefit.
RES served both as a qualified intermediary and as a servicer for real estate contracts. As a qualified intermediary, RES held proceeds from property sales in trust for clients for a period of up to 180 days, during which time the clients could use the funds to purchase a like-in-kind property and not incur capital gains. As a real estate contract servicer, RES received monthly payments from property buyers, taking a portion of the payment to cover insurance, property taxes, and fees. Ordinarily, such funds would be segregated through numerous bank accounts based on the nature and purpose of the funds, and occasionally further delineated by individual clients.
On or before January 11, 2017, Jensen-Tanner allegedly began commingling funds within the RES corporate accounts by moving funds held in trust to operating accounts and vice-versa, contrary to established best practices of the industry. From around January 11, 2017, to October 23, 2019, Jensen-Tanner allegedly made several personal purchases for himself directly from RES corporate accounts. During that same period, Jensen-Tanner allegedly transferred funds from RES corporate accounts at Wells Fargo bank to a holding account for Wells Fargo certified funds tied to Wells Fargo cashier’s checks. Jensen-Tanner then allegedly transferred those certified funds to pay for personal expenses, either directly or via his personal checking account.
The extent of the fraud was in excess of $2 million.
Jensen-Tanner is subject to conditions of release pending trial, which has not been scheduled.
An indictment is only an allegation. A defendant is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, Jensen-Tanner faces up to 20 years in prison for each count of wire fraud and up to 10 years in prison for each count of engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity.
The FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation are investigating this case with assistance from the Securities and Financial Institutions Divisions of the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department. Assistant United States Attorneys Ry Ellison and Richard Williams are prosecuting the case.
The FBI is seeking other potential fraud victims in this case. Anyone who was a customer of RES and believes they were the victim of fraud is asked to contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI or go online to tips.fbi.gov.