Archives For Down Payment Fraud

Jonathan Marmol, 41, Odessa, Florida has been sentenced to 15 months in federal prison and Mordechai Boaziz, 67, Miami Beach, Flordia, to 90 days in federal prison for conspiracy to make false statements to financial institutions.

According to court documents, beginning around the summer of 2006, and continuing through August 2008, Boaziz and Marmol conspired with others to execute a scheme to influence the credit decisions of financial institutions in connection with the sale of condominium units at The Preserve at Temple Terrace, a 392-unit condominium complex located in Temple Terrace, Florida. Boaziz was a real estate developer converting The Preserve from an apartment complex into a condominium complex. Boaziz, the leader and organizer of the fraud scheme, hired Marmol to market the condominium units at the complex.

In order to recruit and entice otherwise unqualified buyers to purchase units at The Preserve, the conspirators offered to pay the prospective buyers’ down payments (“cash-to-close”). The conspirators then intentionally concealed the cash-to-close payments from the financial institutions that originated and funded the related mortgage loans.

In particular, the HUD-1 Settlement Statements submitted to the financial institutions falsely stated that the buyers brought their own cash-to-close funds to purchase the units, which influenced the financial institutions’ mortgage loan approval decisions. In reality, Boaziz funded the buyers’ cash-to-close and routed the payments through Marmol and others. Boaziz caused approximately $5.36 million in losses, and Marmol caused approximately $330,000 in losses to the victim financial institutions who financed the units at The Preserve.

Marmol and Boaziz had pleaded guilty to the offenses in November 2019. http://www.mortgagefraudblog.com/?s=Jonathan+Marmol

This case was investigated by the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor and Assistant United States Attorney Jay L. Hoffer.

 

Ruben Diaz and Rodrigo Diaz, who were accused of deceiving dozens of Spanish-speaking consumers in a variety of real estate-related transactions have been put out of business by court order. As a result of the injunctive relief, Ruben and Rodrigo Diaz are banned permanently from advertising, offering, or providing services in connection with the sale, purchase, lease, or financing of real property in Arizona.

The lawsuit filed by the Attorney General’s Office alleged that Ruben and Rodrigo Diaz (father and son team), used several companies, including ProSolutions LLC, to prey upon Spanish-speaking families who wanted to purchase a home. The Defendants promised to find the families homes to purchase and arrange financing. The Defendants then took tens of thousands of dollars in down payments and had Spanish-speaking consumers sign documents in English under false pretenses.

Families who believed they were purchasing a home eventually discovered, sometimes years later, that they were only renters with no equity or ownership rights. In other instances, consumers gave the Defendants thousands of dollars as a down payment for a home, with the promise that it would be returned to them if they did not make a home purchase. In reality, the Defendants spent the down payments and never made the promised refunds.

Ruben and Rodrigo Diaz were not licensed lenders, real estate agents, or mortgage brokers.

In addition, Ruben Diaz owes $425,313 in restitution to consumers, as well as $100,000 in civil penalties to the State.

Attorney General Mark Brnovich made the announcement.

Buying a home is part of the American dream, but Ruben and Rodrigo Diaz turned that process into a nightmare and robbed dozens of home buyers of that experience,” said Attorney General Mark Brnovich.

Consumers can help protect themselves from real estate and mortgage fraud by working only with licensed professionals and by ensuring that they read and understand contracts before signing them. The public can access the Arizona Department of Real Estate‘s and the Arizona Department of Financial Institutions‘ public databases to determine if a lender or realtor is licensed in the State of Arizona.

Assistant Attorneys General Rebecca Salisbury and Kaitlin Hollywood handled this case.

If you believe you have been the victim of consumer fraud, you can file a consumer complaint by visiting the Attorney General’s website. If you need a complaint form sent to you, you can contact the Attorney General’s Office in Phoenix at (602) 542-5763, in Tucson at (520) 628-6648, or outside the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas at (800) 352-8431. Nuestros formularios de quejas están disponibles en inglés o español.

 

Shenandoah Adams Sr., a/k/a “Shane Adams Sr.,” 54, New Providence, New Jersey, was charged today by indictment with six counts of wire fraud and two counts of making false statements in connection with a mortgage loan.

According to the indictment:

Adams was a principal of Adams Property Management and Investment Group Limited Liability Company (Adams Property Management), which purchased property on Hilton Street, East Orange, New Jersey, in 2014. The following year, Adams arranged for a close associate (Individual 1) to obtain a $153,562 loan from a mortgage lender to purchase the Hilton Street property from Adams Property Management. Adams knew that Individual 1 did not have the money to pay the balance of the purchase price of $225,000. At the closing on March 25, 2015, Adams directed Individual 1 to issue a fraudulent check in the amount of $90,280.47 (the balance of the purchase price) to give the false impression that Individual 1 had paid the closing balance. Adams reassured Individual 1 that Adams would not negotiate the check. Adams signed a settlement statement, falsely certifying that Individual 1 paid the closing balance and that the settlement statement was a true and accurate statement of all receipts and disbursements made in connection with the sale of the Hilton Street property, when Adams knew that Individual 1’s check was fraudulent. Adams used Individual 1’s loan proceeds to pay off Adams Property Management’s $100,000 mortgage loan to purchase the Hilton Street Property and to obtain a $26,335.30 check for Adams Property Management.

Although Adams reassured Individual 1 that Adams would fund Individual 1’s mortgage payments, by May 2016 Individual 1’s mortgage payments on the Hilton Street property were substantially in arrears. Adams arranged for Individual 1 to sell the property to another associate for a price of $255,000. The closing on that sale commenced on May 31, 2016; the total amount to pay off Individual 1’s mortgage was $210,565.34. On June 1, 2016, Adams and Individual 1 had a telephone conversation with an out-of-state representative of the mortgage servicer for Individual 1’s lender, during which Adams made false and fraudulent statements to induce the lender to reduce the payoff amount. The lender agreed to reduce Individual 1’s payoff amount to $190,000. At Adams’s direction, Individual 1 cashed the check for the amount of the reduction, $20,665.34, and delivered the cash proceeds to Adams.

Adams also was a principal of VH Electrical and Plumbing Limited Liability Company (VH). On March 11, 2015, Adams, on behalf of VH, entered into a contract with the Orange Public Library to replace the library’s HVAC/Chiller unit for a price of $49,000. The project was funded by a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block Grant to the library and Orange.

Before getting the contract with the library, Adams sent the library’s executive director, Timur Davis, two fake quotes purportedly from two vendors to give the false impression that VH would replace the library’s chiller for less than those other vendors. After VH had been hired, Adams sent Davis records to give the false impression that Adams was taking steps to order a replacement chiller. Adams received $40,000 from the library, but did not replace the chiller. Davis pleaded guilty on Feb.13, 2020 to making false statements to HUD in connection with the project.

He is scheduled to appear this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Leda Dunn Wettre in Newark federal court.

The charges of wire fraud carry a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a maximum $250,000 fine. The charges of making false statements in connection with a mortgage application carries a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison and a maximum potential fine of $1 million.

U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito made the announcement.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie in Newark; special agents of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Christina Scaringi; and special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge John R. Tafur, with the investigation leading to today’s arrest.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys J Imbert and Cari Fais of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Special Prosecutions Division.

The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Defense counsel: TBD

Marek Harrison, 56, Plant City, Florida, has been sentenced to 20 months in federal prison for his role in a bank fraud scheme.

According to court documents, between September 2007 and December 2008,

Harrison created and executed a mortgage fraud scheme involving Saratoga Resort Villas, a condominium conversion of a former hotel located in Kissimmee, Florida. Harrison’s scheme to defraud financial institutions involved kickbacks of mortgage proceeds to buyers and co-conspirators, as well as misrepresentations regarding the source of down payment funds for the transactions. None of the incentives and kickbacks were disclosed to the mortgage lenders. Harrison also recruited otherwise unqualified buyers, and he provided down payment money for the buyers. http://www.mortgagefraudblog.com/?s=Marek+Harrison

The court also ordered Harrison to pay $2,753,495.79 in restitution to the victim financial institutions.

Harrison had pleaded guilty on November 27, 2019.

This case was investigated by the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor.

Edmundo Roman-Perez, 70, Sunset Park, Brooklyn, an attorney has been arraigned today on an indictment in which he is charged with several counts of grand larceny for allegedly stealing approximately $280,000 in down payments he received to hold in escrow from two clients he represented in the sale of their homes.

According to the investigation, between October 2018 and March 2019, the defendant represented a couple in the sale of their $1,350,000 two-family home in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. It is alleged that the defendant received a $135,000 down payment from the buyers that he was to hold in escrow until closing.

In March 2019, shortly after the closing, the defendant issued two checks to cover the amount of the down payment, each in the amount of $65,600, both checks were allegedly returned because of insufficient funds.

Similarly, between November 2018 and April 2019, the defendant represented three brothers in the sale of their $1,500,000 two-family home in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. It is alleged that the defendant received a $150,000 down payment from the buyers that he was to hold in escrow until closing.

In April 2019, three days after closing, the defendant allegedly issued three checks to the victims, each in the amount of $49,187.10, to cover the amount of the down payment. It is alleged that all three checks were returned because of insufficient funds.

Roman-Perez was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on an indictment in which he is charged with second-degree grand larceny, three counts of third-degree grand larceny and five counts of issuing a bad check. He was released without bail and ordered to return to court on April 1, 2020.

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez made the announcement.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant allegedly betrayed the trust of his clients and abused his power as an attorney, taking advantage of the escrow accounts he controlled to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars. We will now seek to hold him accountable for this serious breach of trust.

The case was investigated by Supervising Financial Investigator Deborah Wey of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Katherine Zdrojeski of the District Attorney’s Public Integrity Unit, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Laura Neubauer, Chief of the Public Integrity Unit, and Assistant District Attorney Michel Spanakos, Deputy Chief of the Investigations Division, and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Chief of the Investigations Division.

 

Marek Harrison, 56, Plant City, Florida has pleaded guilty to bank fraud.

According to the plea agreement, between September 2007 and December 2008, Harrison created and executed a mortgage fraud scheme involving Saratoga Resort Villas, a condominium conversion of a former hotel located in Kissimmee, Florida.  Harrison’s scheme to defraud financial institutions involved kickbacks of mortgage proceeds to buyers and co-conspirators, as well as misrepresentations regarding the source of down payment funds for the transactions. None of the incentives and kickbacks were disclosed to the mortgage lenders. Harrison also recruited otherwise unqualified buyers, and provided down payment money for the buyers.  http://www.mortgagefraudblog.com/?s=Marek+Harrison

Harrison faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

This case was investigated by the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General. It is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor.

 

Mordechai Boaziz, 68, Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Jonathan Marmol,41, Odessa, Florida have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to make false statements to financial institutions.

According to their plea agreements, beginning around the summer of 2006 and continuing through August 2008, Boaziz and Marmol conspired with others to execute a scheme to influence the credit decisions of financial institutions in connection with the sale of condominium units at The Preserve at Temple Terrace, a 392-unit condominium complex. Boaziz was converting The Preserve from an apartment complex into a condominium complex and hired Marmol to market the units.

In order to recruit and entice otherwise unqualified buyers to purchase units at The Preserve, the conspirators offered to pay the prospective buyers’ down payments (“cash-to-close”). The conspirators then intentionally concealed from the financial institutions the cash-to-close payments made on behalf of the buyers.

In particular, the HUD-1 Settlement Statements submitted to the financial institutions falsely stated that the buyers brought their own cash-to-close funds to purchase the condominium units, which influenced the financial institutions’ mortgage loan approval decisions. In reality, Boaziz funded the buyers’ cash-to-close and routed the payments through Marmol and others. As a result of the conspiracy, the financial institutions that financed the condominium unit purchases at The Preserve sustained a total loss of approximately $5 million.

Each faces a maximum penalty of 5 years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

This case was investigated by the Federal Housing Finance Agency–Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor and Assistant United States Attorney Jay L. Hoffer.

 

Min Jin Zhao, a/k/a Michael Zhao, a/k/a Michael West, 56, San Francisco, California, a real estate agent has been indicted on charges of wire fraud, mail fraud, and money laundering.

According to the indictment filed May 9, 2019, and unsealed today, Zhao, defrauded his clients out of down payments meant for the purchase of homes in and around the Bay Area.  From 2014 through 2015, Zhao misrepresented to prospective homebuyers and investors that Portfolio Consulting, Inc., offered a loan program that would enable his clients to procure financing to make all-cash offers on real property.  Zhao told his victims that, as part of the loan program, they had to wire, transfer, or deposit 10% to 20% of the sale price of the real property they sought to purchase into Portfolio’s bank account.  According to the indictment, Zhao told his clients that once they delivered their funds to Portfolio, the company then would provide the remaining portion of the purchase price.  In reality, however, after Zhao’s victims deposited their funds into Portfolio’s account, Zhao either spent the funds or transferred the funds to another bank account in Portfolio’s name.  Further, Zhao used the funds to make purchases unrelated to the purchase of real property for the victims, including for purchases for Zhao’s benefit and the benefit of businesses he controlled.  In sum, Zhao is charged with three counts of wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343; two counts of mail fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1341; and one count of money laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1957.

Zhao was arrested in San Francisco, California on July 2, 2019, and made his initial federal court appearance this morning in Oakland, California.  Zhao is currently out on bond.  His next scheduled appearance is on September 11, 2019, at 10:30 a.m., for an initial appearance before the Honorable James Donato, U.S. District Judge.

The announcement was made by United States Attorney David L. Anderson; Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Special Agent in Charge Kareem Carter; and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent In Charge John F. Bennett.

An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  If convicted, Zhao faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution for each violation of wire and mail fraud, as well as 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution for the money laundering count.  However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jose Apolinar Olivera is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Jessica Rodriguez Gonzalez and Katie Turner.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the IRS-CI and the FBI.

 

John F. Iacono (also known under the alias Vito Yodice), 46, and Shpresa Gjekovic (also known under the aliases Hope Gjekovic, Hope Iacono, Hope Yodice, and Shpresa Hadzovic), 32 , were sentenced today for defrauding banks throughout New York State and laundering those criminal proceeds to further their scheme.

The co defendants were convicted for mortgage fraud, money laundering and scheme to defraud after a joint investigation by the Office of the Attorney General and the New York State Police revealed that the couple utilized shell companies, forged cashier’s checks, and provided fake bank statements, W2s, paystubs, and tax returns in order to solicit over $1.3 million in loans from multiple upstate New York banks.

According to the indictment and statements made by the prosecutor in court, between April 2016 and March 2017, Iacono and Gjekovic applied for mortgages, a construction loan, personal lines of credit, personal loans, a commercial loan, a debt consolidation loan, and a Home Equity Line of Credit with fraudulent documentation that overstated their income, assets, and source of funds. The couple also created fake entities, including but not limited to JF Iacono, LLC and Iacono, LLC, and purported to have worked for them for years. In reality, these companies were created just days prior to their submissions of applications for hundreds of thousands of dollars in bank funds.

The investigation also revealed that Iacono and Gjekovic supplied over $125,000 in counterfeit cashier’s checks to financial institutions, law firms, title companies, and the sellers of a Schoharie County, New York property in order to secure financing and establish residency in the area. The couple allegedly intended to turn the Schoharie County property into a swingers club, but instead rented it out as a hunting cabin while pretending to raise money for children in need. Utilizing online postings, including on Facebook and Airbnb, they advertised the rental property.

The defendants also created a false personal financial statement showing net worth in excess of $1.1 million, with cash on hand of $400,000, while their actual account balances were in the negative. The balances on these statements were grossly inflated, as the couple never had more than a few thousand dollars in the accounts – the vast majority of which was from other loans. To support their claims, Iacono and Gjekovic also supplied fake bank statements showing counterfeit assets.

In addition, Iacono and Gjekovic concealed outstanding judgments against them totaling in excess of $1.4 million from the financial institutions from which they tried to secure loans. Moreover, the couple laundered the fraudulently-obtained loan proceeds to fund real estate transactions, utilizing at least five financial institutions during the course of the year-long scheme. In total, the couple stole over $460,000 from three financial institutions, and attempted to steal over $860,000 in additional proceeds from five financial institutions.

In December 2018, both defendants were arrested on a 19-count indictment charging Residential Mortgage Fraud in the Second Degree, Grand Larceny in the Second and Third Degrees, Money Laundering in the Third Degree, Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument, Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, and Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, among other charges.

On March 29, 2019, Iacono and Gjekovic pleaded guilty before Schoharie County Court Judge George R. Bartlett, III to Residential Mortgage Fraud in the Second Degree (a class C felony), Money Laundering in the Third Degree (a class D felony), and Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree (a class E felony). Iacono and Gjekovic’s pleas resolve additional alleged crimes of money laundering, grand larceny, forgery, and identity theft for which the defendants could have been charged in Albany, Delaware, Greene, Kings, Otsego, Queens, and Rensselaer Counties.

Attorney General Letitia James and State Police Superintendent Keith M. Corlett made the announcement.

Iacono and Gjekovic falsified document after document in order to pad their own pockets,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “Let this serve as a warning to all of those who try to carry out such deliberate schemes: There is no place in this state for individuals who try to cash in at the expense of hardworking New Yorkers. I thank the State Police for their bringing accountability and justice to this elaborate and deceitful plot.”

This couple knowingly defrauded financial institutions and businesses, and preyed on the public’s philanthropy, all to fill their pockets and satisfy their greed,” said New York State Police Superintendent Keith M. Corlett. “This sentencing brings justice and should remind those thinking of carrying out these types of schemes, that you will be held accountable. Thank you to the Attorney General’s Office, our State Police Financial Crimes Unit and other law enforcement partners for their hard work in exposing this plot.”

The case is being prosecuted as part of Attorney General James’ Combatting Upstate Financial Frauds and Schemes (“CUFFS”) Initiative, led by Assistant Attorney General Philip V. Apruzzese of the Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau. The CUFFS Initiative was created to assist local law enforcement and District Attorney’s Offices in the investigation and prosecution of complex financial crimes and money laundering cases such as this one.

Attorney General James thanks the New York State Police Financial Crimes Unit and State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigations, as well as Schoharie County District Attorney Susan J. Mallery for their valuable assistance on this investigation.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Philip V. Apruzzese, with the assistance of Legal Support Analysts Kira M. Russom, Caitlin Carmody and Samantha Wintner and Supervising Analyst Paul Strocko. The Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau is led by Bureau Chief Stephanie Swenton and Deputy Bureau Chief Joseph D’Arrigo. The Criminal Division is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General José Maldonado.

The OAG investigation was conducted by Investigator Mark J. Terra, under the supervision of Supervising Investigator Mark Spencer and Deputy Bureau Chief Antoine Karam. The Investigations Bureau is led by First Deputy Chief Investigator John Reidy.

 

Laurence Savedoff, Esq., 44, New City, New York, who was convicted of misprision of a felony, was sentenced today for his role in a mortgage fraud scheme.

Between 2008 and 2009, the defendant represented The Funding Source (“TFS”), a mortgage bank, as the settlement attorney. The defendant’s law office was used to execute the closings for the eight real estate transactions for properties located in Bronx, New York, which involved efforts by five other individuals fraudulently to obtain mortgages that were insured by FHA on behalf of unqualified borrowers. For all eight transactions, the defendant caused the signing of the HUD-1 settlement statement and FHA Addendum to the HUD-1 knowing that the information therein was false.

Although he did not know the full extent of the scheme, the defendant became aware that others were using him to help defraud financial institutions. The defendant failed to notify authorities, including federal authorities, of these other individuals’ use of fraud to obtain funds from TFS. Furthermore, the defendant took affirmative steps to conceal the fraud by signing the HUD-1 Settlement Statement and FHA Addendum, or by having his paralegal sign them. Those documents were later forwarded by TFS, which he knew would be sent to financial institutions, including M&T Bank located in the Western District of New York. One duty of the defendant in his role as settlement attorney was to certify that the disbursements written on the HUD-1 accurately reflected the disbursements in the transactions. The HUD-1 and other financial documents were sent to financial institutions to show that the borrowers met FHA’s requirement of providing a 3-3.5% down payment. The defendant was aware that the borrowers in all eight transactions did not provide that down payment. Nevertheless, the defendant, or his paralegal at this direction, certified on the HUD-1 and in the FHA Addendum that the disbursements listed therein were accurate.  As a result of the aforementioned facts, financial institutions, including M&T Bank, purchased the fraudulently originated loans from TFS. https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdny/pr/attorney-sentenced-his-role-mortgage-fraud-scheme

The total amount of the mortgage loans for these eight transactions was $4,800,007.

U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. made the announcement.

The sentencing is the culmination of an investigation by the United States Postal Inspection Service under the direction of Joseph W. Cronin, Inspector in Charge, Boston Division, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of the Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Brad Geary; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gary Loeffert.  Additionally, the New York State Department of Financial Services assisted with the investigation.