Archives For escrow theft

Michael Pampalone, 34, of Elizabeth, New Jersey, pled guilty  to defrauding a Rensselaer, New York, resident of $132,450.

As part of his guilty plea, Pampalone admitted that he stole money that he had promised to hold in escrow for a client seeking a mortgage. After the client sent him two wires totaling $132,450, Pampalone withdrew the money and used it for his own purposes.

Sentencing is scheduled for August 9, 2017 at 10:30 a.m. before United States District Judge Mae A. D’Agostino. Pampalone faces up to 20 years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and up to 3 years of post-imprisonment supervised release. A

The announcement was made by United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian and Shelly A. Binkowski, Inspector in Charge, United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), Boston Division.

This case was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service and New York State Police, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Wayne A. Myers.

Kimberlee E. Himmell, 62, Massillon, Ohio, is alleged to have defrauded financial institutions out of more than $2 million by having escrow funds on home purchases deposited into her personal account.  Himmell was charged with 18 counts of bank fraud and one count of theft of government funds.

Himmell owned and operated Netwide Title Agency, Inc., located at 3711 Lincoln Way East, Massillon, Ohio. General Title Insurance Company, located in Cleveland, Ohio, was Netwide’s underwriter and responsible for auditing Netwide, according to the information.

Netwide, at the direction of Himmell, began in 2007 instructing all lenders doing business with Netwide as a title agency and utilizing its escrow services to wire all incoming lending proceeds to Himmell’s personal account, instead of Netwide’s corporate account, according to the criminal information filed in the case.

Himmell then used the deposited funds for her own personal use and for Netwide’s operational expenses without disclosing to lenders that she was not holding the funds in escrow, as she represented she would, according to the information.

Himmell closed at least 19 real estate transactions in 2013 and 2014 wherein Netwide received escrow funds and failed to pay or release the funds to the prior owner’s pre-existing mortgage. This causes financial losses to lenders and/or sellers of homes in Richmond Heights, North Canton, Willowick, Concord, Strongsville, Newbury, Brunswick, Wadsworth, Medina, Painesville, Parma, Akron, Twinsburg, Brecksville and Millersburg, Ohio according to the information.

Netwide’s underwriter, General Title, was contractually obligated to make lenders whole. The loss to General Title as a result of Himmell’s conduct was at least $2,111,014, according to the information.

The case was announced by Acting U.S. Attorney David A. Sierleja. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark S. Bennett following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of Inspector General, the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

George Kalivretenos, 59, Miami Beach, Florida, was sentenced to 84 months in prison for a wire fraud and money laundering scheme in which he defrauded borrowers of approximately $5.6 million. Kalivretenos was also ordered to pay $4.18 million in restitution as part of his sentence.

Kalivrentenos pleaded guilty on August 13, 2015. According to court documents, Kalivretenos operated and controlled Jasmine Capital and Jasmine Resources Capital Group, which were lending entities. He also owned and controlled two escrow companies, Escrow Services, LLC, and Escrow Title Services, LLC. Kalivretenos promised to lend companies and individuals millions of dollars after they sent a deposit of 10 percent of the loan amount to a third party escrow company. However, Kalivretenos concealed his control over the escrow company from borrowers. Once the escrow company received the borrowers’ deposits, Kalivretenos spent borrowers’ funds on personal expenses, including two Rolls Royces, a penthouse condominium rented at $18,000 per month, and hotel stays at the Ritz Carlton and Crowne Plaza. He also transferred substantial funds to overseas accounts. Continue Reading…

After a four-week jury trial, New York State Senator John Sampson was convicted by a federal jury in Brooklyn, New York, for one count of obstruction of justice and two counts of making false statements to federal agents.

The guilty verdicts follow evidence at trial and publicly filed documents establishing that, among other things, Sampson, as an attorney practicing in Brooklyn, New York embezzled funds he held in escrow from the sale of real estate properties. Concerned that his theft might be discovered by law enforcement, in 2006 Sampson asked an associate for $188,500 to replenish the stolen funds. In exchange, Sampson used his position as a Senator to assist the associate’s real estate business interests. Continue Reading…

Richard C. Roney, Jr., 46, former title company owner, Laurel Springs, New Jersey, was charged by information with four counts of wire fraud related to an alleged scheme that cost lenders more than $750,000 and involved escrow theft.

Escrow theft, also known in the industry as escrow defalcation, causes significant and immediate losses to homeowners and lenders. On June 4, 2012, Demotech published a study on this form of fraud entitled Escrow Theft: Today’s Challenge in Title Insurance.  The Study examined the relationship between strong state regulations and escrow theft and concluded, unsurprisingly, that when states that adopted strong licensing requirements, strict oversight and financial responsibility regulations regarding escrow agents, escrow theft loss ratios were lower.  Continue Reading…

The Monroe County, Pennsylvania Office of the District Attorney is warning citizens of a scam targeting homebuyers with pending purchases in Monroe County, Pennsylvania.

In this scam, dubbed the “Man in the Email” scam by the FBI, unwitting buyers are duped into wiring the closing costs and down payment to an out-of-state bank account when they receive closing instructions from their realtor or title company.  In reality, the email was sent by someone who had hacked into the email account of the realtor or title agent, and the instructions are bogus – directing the homebuyer to wire the funds to a bank account under the control of the scammers.

Although this press release was local to Pennsylvania, this scam is happening across the country and being directed and all parties that wire funds into escrow accounts – homebuyers and lenders. Continue Reading…