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Jon Richard Rattray, Gilbert, Arizona has been indicted on felony counts of Fraud Schemes & Artifices, Money Laundering, Controlling an Illegal Enterprise, Computer Tampering, Aggravated Identity Theft, and Forgery.

The State alleges that Rattray, through his company Hawkeye Real Estate Services, LLC, filed a series of forged lien release documents at the Office of the Maricopa County Recorder with the intent of freeing up equity in homes he owned so that he could take out new loans on those same properties or sell them to purchasers as unencumbered property.  The alleged loss to victims is estimated at over $6 million.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich made the announcement.

This case was referred for investigation by the Office of the Maricopa County Recorder and investigated by agents of the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.

All defendants are presumed innocent until convicted in a court of law.

Assistant Attorney General Adam J. Schwartz is prosecuting this case.

Full copy of the indictment.

Daniel Barraza Nevarez, Arizona, has been indicted on multiple felony counts of Fraudulent Schemes & Artifices, Money Laundering, Forgery, and Criminal Impersonation in connection with an alleged scam designed to defraud homeowners and lenders.

Nevarez allegedly filed a series of forged quitclaim deeds transferring ownership of at least 18 different homes to himself. The homeowners did not know Nevarez and were unaware the deeds to their homes had been transferred to him. The homes were located in different parts of Maricopa County, Arizona including Scottsdale and Paradise Valley.  One of the property deeds transferred is valued at approximately $3.5 million. Nevarez is then accused of contacting home equity lenders to try to take out cash loans on those same properties. To date, we believe Nevarez was unsuccessful in taking out a loan on those properties.

Nevarez was arrested during an undercover operation conducted by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office and the Scottsdale Police Department.

Attorney General Mark Brnovich made the announcement.

Concerned homeowners can go to the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office website to check to see what documents have been recorded in their name.

Assistant Attorney General Adam J. Schwartz is prosecuting this case.

James Thornton, Arizona, a real estate agent, was found guilty of Fraudulent Schemes and Theft after defrauding two banks in a short sale home scam.

In 2012, Thornton was the listing real estate agent for the owner of a home who was in default on both mortgages in Mesa, Arizona. Thornton sold the property via short sale to his parents’ LLC for $580,000. There had been other offers to purchase the home for hundreds of thousands of dollars more, including offers for $870,000, $707,000, and $650,000. Both banks approved the short sale price to Thornton’s parents not knowing about any of the other offers to purchase the property for significantly more.

Four days after Thornton’s parents purchased the home, Thornton became their listing agent and tried to sell the home “off the market” for $1,100,000. Thornton eventually sold the home to a third party for $1,050,000 cash approximately two months later. Thornton’s parents earned $540,722 in profit on the sale for $1,050,000, only having owned the home for two months.

In the course of his fraud scheme, Thornton made false statements and misrepresentations to bank representatives, potential buyers, and other real estate agents. To discourage buyers on the short sale and devalue the home, Thornton misrepresented the true number of rooms and bathrooms in the home, pointed out a code violation that didn’t exist to an appraiser, and removed all of the high end, custom appliances from the home. Thornton also falsely told the $1,050,000 cash buyer that the reason there was a substantial gap between his parents’ purchase price of $580,000 and the new list price of $1,100,000 was because there had been a “lien paid outside of escrow.”

Sentencing is set for March 16, 2018. Thornton faces 3 to 12.5 years in prison.

Attorney General Mark Brnovich made the announcement.

The FBI Phoenix Field Office investigated this case.

Assistant Attorney General Maura Quigley and Scott Blake prosecuted this case.

Daphne Iatridis, 59, and her husband, Arthur Telles, 59, were each sentenced to 30 months in prison and ordered to forfeit 26 fraudulently purchased properties to the United States. Both had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and tax evasion. The couple’s sons, Brendyn Iatridis and Spenser Iatridis, also pleaded guilty to related crimes and were sentenced to 10 months in prison and probation, respectively.

Between 2008 and 2012, the defendants engaged in an elaborate scheme to obtain more than 30 houses from the Federal National Mortgage Association (“FNMA”). Among other things, they stole others’ identities, used bogus trusts to buy the properties, and fraudulently notarized documents to facilitate the improper purchases. In addition, from at least 2010 through 2015, the defendants failed to pay taxes on their rental income from the fraudulently purchased properties.

Real estate professionals who lie and forge documents are a scourge to the industry,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Elizabeth A. Strange. “Our office places a high priority on investigating and prosecuting real estate fraud, and we hope that the lengthy sentences imposed in this case will send a strong message that this type of dishonesty and misconduct will be punished severely.”

This case epitomized the greed that erodes confidence in the Realtor/Mortgage industry,” said Michael DeLeon, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Phoenix Division. “I am pleased the defendants are now being held accountable for their crimes and that the majority of the fraudulently obtained properties will be forfeited.”

Senior U.S. District Judge Neil V. Wake handed down the sentences.  The investigation was conducted by the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s Office of Inspector General, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The prosecution was handled by Kevin M. Rapp and M. Bridget Minder, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, District of Arizona, Phoenix.

Michael Quiroz, Tucson, Arizona, was sentenced by U.S. Chief District Judge Raner C. Collins to 36 months in prison.  Quiroz was previously found guilty at trial of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

The evidence established that Quiroz, a loan officer and mortgage broker, was involved in a multi-year, multi-million dollar cash-back mortgage fraud conspiracy.  Quiroz and others recruited straw buyers to purchase residential properties at inflated prices and Quiroz also helped the straw buyers fraudulently obtain the loans needed to purchase the properties.  The methods used to obtain the loans included fake lease agreements, fake letters of employment, fake letters of credit, and false statements of intent to occupy a property as a primary residence.  Portions of the fraudulently-obtained mortgages were diverted to the bank accounts of Quiroz’s co-conspirators, who would thereafter send kickbacks to Quiroz.  Many of the properties purchased during the scheme eventually went into foreclosure, and the lenders’ losses relating to Quiroz’s conduct during the conspiracy totaled approximately $2.3 million.

The investigation in this case was conducted by the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation.  The prosecution was handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, Tucson.

 

Rosemary Anton, Phoenix, Arizona, was charged by information in a short sale fraud and pled guilty to one count of conspiracy in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona. Sentencing is scheduled for May 8, 2017.

According to the Information, in March 2005, Anton purchased a home located at 3612 East Elm Street, Phoenix, Arizona for $712,000 and obtained two mortgage loans to finance the purchase.

In July 2011, Anton, with the assistance of a real estate agent who is not identified in the information, began trying to sell the property to get her out of the large loan.  Anton and the real estate agent devised a plan whereby Anton would short sell the property to a person who was related to both Anton and the real estate agent.  Anton was to provide all the funds for the relation to purchase the property and Anton would continue to live in the property.  This would allow Anton to stay in the property for half of the amount she originally paid.

Anton and the relation signed a purchase contract with a sales price of $340,000.

As part of the short sale process, they both also signed a “Purchaser Eligibility Certification” which provided that the transaction was arm’s length, that the buyers, sellers and real estate agent did not have a family or business relationship, and there were no agreements by which the seller would remain in the property as tenant or regain ownership.

Anton stated in the short sale package that she had $13,000 in retirement assets when, in fact, she had over $316,000 in retirement assets.

The short sale was approved and completed based on the information and certification submitted.

Anton continued to reside in the property and, less than three years after the short sale, Anton purchased the property from the relation for $340,000, an amount far below the market value of the property in June 2104. The relation received a wire from Anton via the title company for the net proceeds of this sale and, that same day, the real estate agent and relation wired all of the sales proceeds into Anton’s bank account.  Anton then wrote a check to the real estate agent for $90,000. The wires and checks formed the basis of the charges for conspiracy to engage in monetary transactions derived from specified unlawful activity.

Spenser Iatridis, 30, Scottsdale, Arizona, was charged by Information with Conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud on August 26, 2016 in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona.

According to the Information, Daphne Iatridis aka Daphne Trilling, aka Daphne Telles, 57, Scottsdale Arizona has been a real estate agent in Phoenix, Arizona for 18 years and Arthur Telles, 57, Scottsdale, Arizona, her husband, is also a real estate agent.  Brendyn J. Iatridis, aka Brendyn Trilling, 26, Scottsdale Arizona is the son of Daphne and also a real estate agent.  Spenser  is also a real estate agent and is the son of Daphne and brother of Brendyn.

Daphne, Telles and Brendyn were charged separately.

In 2008, Daphne was a designated listing agent for Fannie Mae REO properties.  Daphne knew that neither she nor her relatives could purchase the properties she marketed and sold for Fannie Mae and that Fannie Mae had certain restrictions that agents had to comply with in order to purchase an REO property they were listing.

Unbeknownst to Fannie Mae, the Iatridises purchased 28 properties for their own purposes.  They did this by purchasing 18 of the properties in the name of Spenser’s aunt.  Spenser knew that his aunt did not provide her permission to purchase the properties in her name and was not compensated in any manner for the purchases. Spenser knew that Brendyn falsely notarized his aunt’s name by either forging her signature or cutting and pasting a known signature onto documents.  On each of the properties purchased, defendants falsely listed his aunt as the trustee of a trust that they designated.  Once they had purchased the properties, they transferred them into the name of a deceased relative in order to conceal their ownership.  When Brendyn was notified that federal agents wanted to review his notary book, he misrepresented that it had been lost or stolen.

Defendants also committed a similar fraud with respect to at least nine homes that Brendyn purchased in the name of Brendyn Triling.  The defendants cut and pasted the signatures of known notaries on the documents.

Defendants committed the same fraud by purchasing homes in the name of Sing Lea Trust with Spenser’s former girlfriend as the trustee.  Defendant forged her signature and falsified notarized documents to complete the purchases.  They later transferred the properties to a trust under their control.

Defendants also submitted false invoices for repairs and rehabilitations of the properties to Fannie Mae.

Once they obtained the properties, Defendants installed renters for the purpose of obtaining rental income.  Because they were concealing their ownership of the properties, Spenser knew that they intentionally failed to report the rental income on their tax returns.

 

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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Zavier Kay Hafiz, Arizona, plead guilty on May 7, 2015 to Fraudulent Schemes and Artifices and was sentenced to six years in prison, followed by another seven years of probation.  In addition, he was ordered to pay $3,554,838.40 in restitution. Hafiz, who was doing business as ZK Group, was charged after an FBI-led investigation revealed his company fraudulently misled nearly forty victims to whom he sold real estate throughout Arizona. Continue Reading…

Julio Cesar Esquivel Reyes, 41, Tolleson, Arizona was sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay more than $568,000 in restitution  for orchestrating a mortgage fraud conspiracy that spanned 11 years and resulted in nearly $2 million in losses for mortgage lenders.  According to prosecutors, Reyes recruited family and church members, including two pastors, to commit mortgage fraud, eventually obtaining more than $3 million in loans. Reyes previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. According to U.S. Attorney John S. Leonardo:

“Mortgage fraud is a serious offense that has detrimental effects on the economy as a whole.  The facts of this case are especially egregious because the defendants used their affiliation with a church to further the crime.  This sentence and that of Pastor Tovar send a solid message that those engaging in such actions will be prosecuted and incarcerated.”

Matt Allen, special agent in charge for HSI Arizona, said: Continue Reading…