Archives For Appraisal Fraud

Eugene Peter Kenworthy, Jr., 50, appraiser, Ambler, Pennsylvania, was charged by Indictment with wire fraud, false statements for the purpose of influencing the Federal Housing Administration, aggravated identity theft, and failure to file a tax return.

The indictment alleges that, beginning as early as 1993, Kenworthy worked at Tech Review LTD, a real estate appraisal company owned by Kenworthy’s father.  Kenworthy began managing Tech Review after his father’s death in 2003 and sold the company in 2012 after which he formed two other companies, Global Appraisal Management and East Coast Appraisal Management.

According to the indictment, from March 2010 to February 2016, Kenworthy appraised approximately 714 properties which were the subject of HECM loan applications.  Kenworthy used the electronic signatures of five certified appraisers without their knowledge and consent to certify approximately 294 of those appraisals reports.  Those appraisers did not appraise the properties or write the reports.  Kenworthy used his own signature to certify the other approximately 420 appraisal reports he wrote. Most of the appraisals were for a single mortgage broker/origination company which paid Kenworthy about $450 per appraisal.

Also according to the indictment, Kenworthy made false statements in some of the HECM appraisal reports which resulted in falsely inflated valuations for the properties and, fraudulently inflated the HECM loan amounts. The indictment details several of these transactions.

As of July 2017, of the 714 properties for which Kenworthy wrote an appraisal report for a HECM, FHA had paid 53 claims totaling almost $3.7 million on foreclosed properties where the sales price of the home was insufficient to cover the HECM loan.

Kenworthy was added to the FHA appraiser roster in 1999 and, in or about January 2016, HUD suspended Kenworthy, barring him from performing FHA appraisals.

If convicted the defendant faces a maximum possible sentence is 166 years’ imprisonment, five years of supervised release, a $5,050,000 fine, and a $1,000 special assessment

The indictment was announced Acting United States Attorney Louis Lappen. The case was investigated by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of Inspector General and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Karen L. Grigsby.

Matt Garner, 34, licensed real estate appraiser, Lexington, Kentucky, was sentenced in federal court to five months in prison and five months home confinement. He was also ordered to pay a $5,500 fine. Garner pled guilty in May of 2017 to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and making false statements to a federal agency,

Garner made false statements in connection with appraisals he submitted for use by lenders in connection with federally-backed mortgages.

Garner owned and operated Lexington-based Garner & Associates. Between 2012 and 2016, his company was paid for more than 700 appraisals, on homes being purchased or refinanced in numerous counties surrounding Lexington and Owensboro, Kentucky. In his guilty plea, acknowledged that, in a significant percentage of these appraisals, he falsely certified on federal appraisal forms that he had personally visited the property and conducted the appraisal.  In fact, had paid unlicensed individuals a small portion of the appraisal fee to perform the appraisals.

Senior U.S. District Court Judge Joseph M. Hood sentenced Garner. Carlton S. Shier, IV, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, and Amy S. Hess, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Louisville Field Office, announced the sentence today.

The Louisville Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ken Taylor and Kate Anderson represented the federal government

Oscar Cantalicio Ortiz, 53, a contractor who had resided in Kingwood, Texas, prior to becoming a fugitive in this case, was sentenced in absentia to 262 months in prison for his role in a $16 million loan fraud scheme.  Ortiz pleaded guilty June 30, 2016, to conspiring to commit bank, mail and wire fraud. He was set for set for sentencing April 24, 2017, but failed to appear for that hearing.

U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt further ordered Ortiz to pay $5,462,800 in restitution. At the hearing, the court heard testimony that Ortiz was aware of the previous hearing and that he had cut off his ankle monitor and left it on the side of the road.

He is considered a fugitive and a warrant remains outstanding for his arrest. Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to contact the FBI at 713-693-5000.

Seung Min Santillan, aka Suzy, 57, real estate agent, Houston, Texas, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and making false statements on a loan application in September 2016. She was previously sentenced to 168 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $5,299,500 in restitution.

Ortiz and Santillan operated a mortgage fraud scheme in which they recruited straw borrowers to purchase residential properties in the Houston, Texas, area. Loans were obtained from lending institutions to purchase these properties in the names and using the credit of the straw borrowers. The lenders were provided materially false information to induce them to fund these residential loans, including fraudulent appraisal reports. The loans were funded and ultimately fell into default when all the mortgage payments were not made as promised.

Ortiz and Santillan utilized several business entities during the execution of the scheme to defraud including Uptown Builders LLC, Americorp Builders LLC, Luxury Quality Homes LLC and Santi Investments. In recruiting straw borrowers during the scheme, the borrowers were told the residential property would be in their name for a short period while Ortiz made modifications to the property prior to reselling the house. Ortiz and Santillan promised the straw borrowers that they would handle all the costs associated with purchasing and holding these properties.

Once the loans to purchase the residence funded, one or more of the business entities Ortiz utilized would receive a large portion of the loan proceeds. This occurred even when the same property was purchased for the second time in the name of a new straw borrower. The defendants were able to take a large portion of the loan proceeds since the value of the residence was inflated with fraudulent appraisal reports.

The sentenced was announced by Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez.The FBI conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Melissa Annis is prosecuting the case.

Michael Lane Prevette, Greensboro, North Carolina, was sentenced to 42 months imprisonment in federal court in connection with loan application and appraisal fraud.

Brian Keith Perdue, appraiser, was sentenced to 5 years probation and ordered to pay $886,749.02 in restitution.

In October of 2016, Prevette pled guilty to count one of an indictment, which charged Conspiracy to Commit Application Fraud.  After Prevette completes the term of imprisonment, he will be on federal supervised release for 3 years and has been ordered to pay $886,749.02 in restitution. United States District Judge R. Bryan Harwell of Florence imposed the sentence.

Prevette was involved in a scheme in which mortgage lenders were misled when members of the conspiracy caused fraudulent loan packages to be submitted to the lenders. These packages included inflated real estate appraisals which were prepared at Prevette’s direction. These properties were located in the Myrtle Beach area.

United States Attorney Beth Drake made the announcement. The case was investigated by the FBI.  Assistant United States Attorney John C. Potterfield of the Columbia United States Attorney’s Office prosecuted the case.

Anthony Cruz Quitugua, 38, Phoenix, Arizona, was arrested on May 23, 2012, to face charges of mortgage fraud. In May of 2011, a federal grand jury in Phoenix returned a 15-count indictment against Quitugua, which alleges that he defrauded mortgage lenders out of more than $3.5 million dollars.

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Ann Hils, 55, East Hampton, Connecticut, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Alvin W. Thompson to 63 months of imprisonment, followed by five years of supervised release, for operating a real estate appraisal scheme.

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Grady Wayne Fricks, 65, Nashville, Tennessee, pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges arising out of a scheme to defraud Cornerstone Community Bank, Dalton, Georgia, using false appraisals, settlement statements and misrepresentations to qualify for more than a million dollars in loans.

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Steven Essig, Syracuse, New York, a licensed appraiser and the owner of an appraisal company in Syracuse, pleaded guilty to a felony charge stemming from making false entries in an appraisal report. The falsified report was used to obtain a mortgage as part of a million dollar mortgage fraud scheme.

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Justin Joseph Christenson, 35, Forest Lake, Minnesota, admitted conspiring with Thomas Rosensteel, Robert Scott “Rod” Aslesen, and at least four others to defraud mortgage lenders by falsifying loan applications and related documents. Continue Reading…

Four defendants were sentenced on February 4, 2015, by U.S. District Judge Richard L. Voorhees for their involvement in a consumer and mortgage fraud conspiracy which resulted in multi-million dollar losses for consumers and federal agencies. Continue Reading…