Archives For forged deeds

Neill Reed and Jeric Goodrum, North Little Rock, Arkansas have been indicted for violations of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Reed and Goodrum tried to manipulate Arkansas’s tax-delinquent property sale procedures by illegally filing forged deeds in order to steal property from rightful owners and then sell the property to unsuspecting consumers.

Defendants Reed and Goodrum begin the scam by locating publicly-listed tax-delinquent properties that were soon to be auctioned by the Commissioner of State Lands. Once they identify a particular tax-delinquent piece of property they want to acquire, and without the true owner’s knowledge or consent, they forge a quitclaim deed that indicates that the record owner of the property transferred their interests to Defendants. Defendants record the forged document in a county’s property records and then sell the stolen property for a price that may be thousands of dollars below the property’s actual value to unsuspecting third parties. The scam often goes unnoticed until the true owner tries to pay the taxes and reclaim the property.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge filed the charges.

These fraudulent actions are costly for their victims, and in some circumstances rob children, grandchildren and families of property that should be their rightful inheritance,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “These scams hurt hard-working Arkansans, and these fraudsters must be stopped.

The investigation was assisted by staff for the Commissioner of State Lands, Tommy Land. The suit seeks an injunction; an order imposing civil penalties; restitution for affected consumers; the suspension or forfeiture of franchises, corporate charters, licenses, permits and authorizations to do business in Arkansas and other relief against Reed and Goodrum.

Attorney General Rutledge is requesting restitution, civil penalties, and injunctive relief and demands a jury trial. Victims of these business practices should file a consumer complaint on ArkansasAG.gov or call (800) 482-8982.

Angela Fawn Wallace, aka Leah Denise Williams, West Hills, California 58, who has been already been accused of bilking millions of dollars from elderly property owners and two others have been charged today in a real estate fraud case.

In 2015 and 2016, the defendants are accused of creating fraudulent deeds in order to illegally take out a loan against a Los Angeles, California home and later sell it.

Wallace also allegedly created false deeds for two other Los Angeles residential properties in 2015 and then in 2018 illegally signed deeds of trust on the residences as collateral for her bail in another fraud case, the prosecutor said.

Wallace was charged in case BA479339 with 68 felony counts, including identity theft, forgery relating to identity theft, procuring and offering false or forged instrument, counterfeit seal, grand theft and money laundering.

Co-defendants Charlesetta Brown, aka Barbara Brown, 68, Los Angeles, California and David Jayson Greene, aka Damian Dave Brown, 45, Los Angeles, California face 54 felony counts.

The charges for all three defendants include allegations of taking more than $100,000 through fraud and embezzlement and having prior felony convictions. The case was filed for warrant on July 12, 2019.

Brown pleaded not guilty today at an arraignment hearing. Wallace and Greene pleaded not guilty earlier this week. Bail for Wallace was set at $1.61 million and for Brown and Greene at $1.27 million each.

A bail review hearing for the three defendants is scheduled for July 24, 2019 followed by a preliminary hearing on July 29, in Department 30 of the Foltz Criminal Justice Center.

The crimes allegedly resulted in a loss of more than $400,000.

Wallace faces a possible maximum sentence of 41 years in state prison if convicted as charged. Brown and Greene each face up to 35 years and eight months in prison.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office made the announcement today.

The case remains under investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department and the District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation.

Wallace previously was charged in cases BA474533 and BA468922 with a total of 162 felony counts, including grand theft, identity theft, forgery and money laundering. Those charges include special allegations of taking of more than $200,000 and prior convictions.

If convicted as charged in those two cases, she faces a possible maximum sentence of 81 years and 10 months in state prison.

 

Ramjit Jaikaran, a.k.a. A.J. Jaikaran, 55, South Ozone Park, Queens; Colin Hill, 41, Jamaica, Queens; Kaso Rampersad, 51,  Orlando, Florida, and Justin Codrington, 29,  New Rochelle, New York were arraigned today on an indictment in which they are variously charged with grand larceny, money laundering, identity theft, and other charges for allegedly conspiring to sell a vacant Canarsie, Brooklyn house to the victims, using forged documents to conceal the fact that the homeowner was deceased, and then stealing the $276,000 that the couple paid for the property.

According to the investigation, in July 2017, a married Guyanese couple who wanted to invest in Brooklyn real estate were allegedly fraudulently induced by the defendants to pay $276,000 to purchase a residential property located on East 94th Street, Canarsie, Brooklyn, which the couple believed the defendants were authorized to sell. The property was actually owned by Ruth Adelman, who died in 1993 without a will.

It is alleged that defendant Jaikaran showed the house to the couple and claimed that it was for sale. Defendant Rampersad allegedly pretended to represent Adelman’s heir – falsely claiming that she had a son who inherited the property and was willing to sell it. Ms. Adelman did not have any children, and the person identified by the defendants as her “son” was in fact the victim of identity theft.

It is alleged that defendant Hill agreed to act as the couple’s attorney at the closing for the property on July 31, 2017. Hill is not an attorney and is not admitted to practice law in New York State.

While at the closing, it is alleged, Hill falsely claimed that Adelman’s “son” had earlier signed the contract of sale, the deed and other documents, transferring ownership of the property to the couple’s family corporation. Hill even presented them with a fraudulent death certificate for Adelman which identified her supposed son, and a fraudulent birth certificate for the “son.”

To complete the sale, the couple paid the defendants $250,000, using two bank checks for $150,000 and $125,000, along with $1,000 in cash for Hill’s “legal” fee. According to the indictment, defendant Codrington cashed the check for $150,000 using an account controlled by his company; other funds were disbursed to a company controlled by Jaikaran’s wife.

In November 2017, the couple’s family corporation was sued by Valley Capital Partners LLC, which alleged that it purchased the property from Adelman’s true heirs. One of the victims confronted defendants Jaikaran and Rampersad, in separate conversations, stating that he believed that he may have been defrauded, and, it is alleged, both defendants urged him not to report it to law enforcement.

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez made the announcement.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “These defendants allegedly engaged in an elaborate scam to steal the savings of an innocent couple. I am committed to protecting homeowners and home purchasers in Brooklyn and will now seek to hold the defendants accountable for this alleged scheme. As property values continue to rise in Brooklyn, protecting residents from fraudulent real estate schemes is a top priority.”

The District Attorney identified the defendants as Defendants Jaikaran and Hill were arraigned before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Joanne Quinones on April 16, 2019; defendants Rampersad and Codrington were arraigned before Justice Danny Chun on April 17, 2019 and yesterday, May 21, 2019, respectively. The defendants are variously charged, in the 20-count indictment with one count of conspiracy, one count of second-degree grand larceny, two counts of first-degree identity theft, seven counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, one count of fourth-degree conspiracy, and five counts of first-degree falsifying business records. Hill is charged with one count of practicing and appearing as an attorney at law without being admitted and registered, and Codrington is charged with one count of criminal possession of stolen property and two counts of second-degree money laundering. They face up to 15 years in prison if convicted of the top count. Codrington is being held on $30,000 bail. The other defendants were released without bail. All of the defendants were ordered to return to court on June 26, 2019.

The District Attorney thanked the New York City Sheriff’s Office for its assistance in the investigation.

The case was investigated by Detective Investigators assigned to the District Attorney’s Investigations Bureau. Detective Sergeant Teresa Russo of the New York City Sheriff’s Office, Bureau of Criminal Investigation, provided valuable assistance in the investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Kurtz, of the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Richard Farrell, Chief of the Real Estate Fraud Unit, Assistant District Attorney Michel Spanakos, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Chief.

Craig Hecht, 51, Mount Sinai, New York, has been arraigned today on an indictment in which he is charged with grand larceny and money laundering for allegedly stealing a vacant brownstone worth over $1 million in a deed fraud scheme targeting an 80-year-old Bedford-Stuyvesant homeowner.

According to the indictment, Hecht and a codefendant (who remains unapprehended) allegedly stole the deed to 260 Clifton Place, a two-story Bedford-Stuyvesant, New York, brownstone owned by an 80-year-old woman. The victim and her family lived in the residence for over three decades. In 2010, the family vacated the property after a fire made the building uninhabitable.

Hecht allegedly formed an entity called Ernestina Thomas LLC that he filed with the New York State Department of State on April 20, 2015. Ten days later, the codefendant allegedly opened a bank account called Ernestina Thomas LLC (ET). The victim did not know about or consent to any of this.

On September 18, 2015, according to the investigation, Hecht set up a closing where 260 Clifton Place was transferred to an entity called TDA Development. A deed with the victim’s forged signature, which transferred the property from her to TDA, was filed and recorded with the City Register. The bulk of the proceeds of the sale went into an ET account which the codefendant controlled.

Shortly thereafter, Hecht offered 260 Clifton Place to a prospective buyer. It is alleged that on November 5, 2015, the codefendant opened a bank account for TDA and the following day the property was transferred from TDA to the buyer at a closing for $850,000, with most of the proceeds of that sale going into the codefendant’s TDA account. From the funds allegedly stolen out of the two closings, the codefendant wired $190,000 to an account he had in Athens, Greece, withdrew another $120,000 in a series of cash withdrawals and transferred over $250,000 to an account held by Hecht’s wife.

The victim was notified of the alleged theft when a neighbor called to tell her that someone was working on the house and introduced himself as the new property owner. She then notified the District Attorney’s Office.

The defendant was arraigned yesterday before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on an indictment in which he is charged with two counts of second-degree grand larceny and two counts of second-degree money laundering. The defendant was ordered held on $150,000 bond or $75,000 cash bail and to return to court on August 14, 2019. He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted of the top count.

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez made the announcement.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant allegedly thought he could take advantage of an elderly homeowner’s absence to steal her house and sell it before she or anyone else noticed. Brooklyn’s robust real estate market continues to be an attractive target for theft and fraud. I remain vigilant in my commitment to protecting homeowners and encourage them to protect themselves by registering with the Automated City Register Information System (ACRIS) so that they are automatically informed of changes made to documents associated with their property.”

The case was investigated by Detective Investigators assigned to the KCDA Investigations Bureau. Supervising Financial Investigator Vincent Jones assisted in the investigation, as did Investigative Analyst Megan Carroll, both of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Linda Hristova, of the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau, with assistance from Senior Assistant District Attorney Patrick Cappock, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Richard Farrell, Chief of the District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit and Assistant District Attorney Michel Spanakos, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division, and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division.

Clarence C. Roland III, 58, Tacoma, Washington, is accused of fraudulent acquisition of real property through the manipulation and filing of fraudulent deed documents in county records across the country.

The indictment, returned in December 2018, alleges Roland fabricated fraudulent documents to defraud mortgage holders by causing the property records to reflect their interests in the real property had been eliminated.

Roland and others fraudulently transferred the ownership of the real property in which the mortgage holder had an interest to shell companies Roland controlled, according to the charges. The fraudulent documents allegedly further materially misrepresented the shell companies he controlled had outstanding mortgage loans on the real properties allegedly held by another company Roland controlled. Upon the sale of the real property, Roland allegedly caused that fake loan to be paid off using seller’s proceeds.

The indictment further alleges the conspirators created and used various entities names in executing their scheme to defraud.

Roland is set to make his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Christina Bryan at 10:00 a.m. today.

If convicted of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, Roland faces up to 30 years in federal prison and a possible $1 million maximum fine. A conviction for wire fraud carries a potential 20-year-maximum sentence and a $250,000 possible fine. He is also charged with six counts of money laundering, each carrying a maximum 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines, upon conviction.

The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General and the FBI conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Melissa Annis is prosecuting the case.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.

Winston Gregory Hall, aka “Sage El,” 37, East Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York, who absconded during his trial, was sentenced today to three to nine years in state prison. He was convicted by a jury of grand larceny and other charges for stealing a house owned by his 84-year-old next-door neighbor by forging a deed and other documents that transferred ownership of the property to a trust in his name.

According to the evidence, on April 16, 2015, the defendant created the Winston Gregory Hall Express Trust, of which he was the trustee. One week later, on April 23, 2015, a deed was executed by the victim, the owner of 390 East 49th Street, Brooklyn, New York, transferring ownership of the property to the defendant’s trust. Further, on May 8, 2015, the deed and related tax documents, also forged, were filed at the New York City Register’s Office. On May 18, 2015, the deed was recorded with the New York City Department of Finance, at which time the estimated market value of the property was $445,000.

The victim stated that she did not know the defendant and never intended to transfer ownership of her home to the defendant.

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez made the announcement.

The District Attorney said that, according to trial testimony, between April and May of 2015, the defendant perpetrated a fraud to steal the title to 390 East 49th Street in Brooklyn, a three-family home owned by his next-door neighbor, an 84-year-old woman who lived with a family member in New Jersey.

The defendant was sentenced to an indeterminate term of three to nine years in prison by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun. The defendant was convicted of second-degree grand larceny, second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing. The defendant absconded after the jury trial began and was convicted in absentia on October 23, 2018. He was picked up in Brooklyn by police two months after absconding.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant twice showed a disregard for the rule of law, first by stealing his neighbor’s house and then absconding during his trial. He’s now been held accountable. This case is part of my continuing commitment to ensuring justice for Brooklyn homeowners who are all too often the target of unscrupulous individuals.”

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Frank Dudis and Senior Assistant District Attorney Ellen Koenig, of the District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Richard Farrell, Unit Chief, and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Chief of the Investigations Division.

Jordan Horsford, 29, East New York, Brooklyn was indicted today for allegedly stealing and attempting to sell the home of his 85-year-old neighbor, a diabetic man for whom the defendant was a part-time caretaker.

According to the investigation, in August 2016 the defendant, who was known to do odd jobs in the neighborhood, began helping the victim as needed, including carrying his wheelchair up steps and helping him get in and out of vehicles; he was paid for each task by the victim’s family.

In April 2017, it is alleged, the victim’s family began paying the defendant $400 a week to accept Meals on Wheels deliveries and set them out for the victim, to make sure he took his medicine and to check in on him at night.

Between June 19, 2017 and November 1, 2017, the defendant allegedly convinced the victim to sign away the deed to his home on Barbey Street, East New York, Brooklyn. The defendant allegedly told the victim he risked losing his home if he did not sign a document, and had the document notarized by a notary. The defendant then allegedly realized he needed another document notarized, but the notary refused so the defendant allegedly copied and cut and pasted her original signature. He then recorded the deed, which had been signed over to him.

Finally, it is alleged, the defendant attempted to sell the house almost immediately after securing the deed, but a title company suspected foul play and refused to insure the home. The would-be purchaser then reached out to the 85-year-old victim’s family. At around the same time, the victim’s daughter, while going through her father’s mail, found a letter from the Department of Finance notifying them about documents filed relating to the property. The daughter pursued the matter with the DOF and the case was ultimately referred to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office for further investigation and prosecution.

Additionally, the defendant allegedly used the victim’s credit card to buy two gold bars online, one in September 2016 and another in August 2017.

Horsford was arraigned yesterday before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on a 12-count indictment in which he is charged with second-degree grand larceny, third-degree grand larceny, first-degree identity theft, first-degree falsifying business records, offering a false instrument for filing, criminal possession of a forged instrument and fraudulently obtaining a signature. He was released without bail, ordered to surrender his passport and to return to court on March 6, 2019. The defendant faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted of the top count.

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez made the announcement.

District Attorney Gonzalez said “This case should serve as another warning that rising property values in Brooklyn make homeowners, especially the elderly, the target of unscrupulous predators trying to steal their homes from under them. I urge all homeowners to be especially careful about signing documents relating to their property without trusted legal advice.”

The case was investigated by Detective Sheriff Kevin Acon, of the Criminal Investigations Bureau, New York City Department of Finance.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Karen Turner of the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Gavin Miles, Counsel to the Frauds Bureau, and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division.

Danny Noble, 49, Baldwin, New York was sentenced today to 4.5 to nine years in prison in connection with illegally transferring the titles of seven houses in Brooklyn, New York and two in Queens, New York from their true owners to himself or a corporation, then renting out some of the properties and selling others.

According to the indictment, between June 29, 2010 and March 31, 2015, the defendants falsely transferred title to seven Brooklyn properties: 71 Carlton Avenue, 104 Vanderbilt Avenue, 45 North Oxford Street and 70 Clermont Avenue, Fort Greene,; 1391 East 95th Street in Canarsie, 357 Jefferson Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant; 729 Essex Street in East New York all in Brooklyn, New York and two properties in Queens, New York: 94-05 108th Street in Jamaica and 187-05 Liberty Avenue in Hollis.

Five of the properties were transferred from the actual homeowners to Noble, according to the indictment, three were transferred to 69 Adelphi Street, LLC, and one to a third party. The defendants allegedly targeted the properties because the owners did not live in the houses and rarely visited them.

Once the titles were transferred, according to the indictment, the defendants carried out various scams in order to cash in on them. For example, Noble maintained control of 45 North Oxford Street, a recently renovated brownstone in Fort Greene, whose owner lived outside of the United States. Noble rented out two apartments in the brownstone, collecting $1,500 a month in rent for each of them. He also maintained control of the two houses in Queens, renting them out for various amounts.

In another facet of the scheme, concerning 1247 Putnam Avenue, Brooklyn, New York, Noble filed a fraudulent satisfaction of mortgage.

Furthermore, for example, with respect to 71 Carlton Avenue, 104 Vanderbilt Avenue, 70 Clermont Avenue, and 1391 East 95th Street, the defendants transferred the properties’ titles into the names of other, third parties.

Noble pleaded guilty to first-degree criminal possession of stolen property and fourth-degree conspiracy before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on April 27, 2016 and was sentenced today to an indeterminate term of 4.5 to nine years in prison. His co-defendant, Romelo Grey, 41, Freeport, New York, pleaded guilty to falsifying business records on August 16, 2016, and was sentenced to 1.5 to 3 years in prison.

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez made the announcement.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, the scheme was discovered after Grey and Noble transferred the title to the Canarsie house at 1391 East 95th Street to a third party. Grey visited the house with the buyer to inspect it, and told the tenants living there that they had to move out. The buyer then began renovating the house and those workers caught the eye of an employee of a business across the street, which was actually owned by the true owner of 1391 East 95th Street. That employee called the owner of the property, who called police. Further investigation led to the defendants’ connections to the other properties.

As part of the scheme, Noble, the leader, filed false documents with the New York City Department of Finance, Office of the City Register, which maintains land records and other real property filings in New York City, including records relating to ownership and encumbrances, such as liens and mortgages.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “In Brooklyn, we take real estate scams very seriously. The houses targeted in this fraud are worth millions of dollars. My prosecutors and investigators worked diligently to expose this fraudulent scheme and bring this defendant to justice.”

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Richard Farrell, Chief of the District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit, under the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Deputy Chief of the Investigations Division.

Marilyn Sanchez, 49, Brooklyn, New York was sentenced today for filing two fraudulent deeds and supporting documents with the New York City Register’s Office in order to fraudulently acquire ownership of two separate residential homes in Brooklyn, New York.

According to the indictment and statements made at Sanchez’s arraignment in Kings County Supreme Court, in January 2016 Marilyn Sanchez illegally transferred ownership of 477 Christopher Avenue, Brownsville, Brooklyn, New York from the lawful owners to herself by recording a deed and five supporting documents containing forged signatures with the New York City Register’s Office.

Additionally, in November 2016, Sanchez illegally transferred ownership of 271 East 32nd Street, East Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York by recording a deed and five supporting documents containing the forged signatures of the lawful owners with the New York City Register’s Office.

In both instances, the owners never signed the deed nor the supporting documents and they never gave Sanchez, or anyone else, permission to sign on their behalf.

On October 5, 2018, Sanchez pleaded guilty to two counts of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony, before the Honorable Judge Miller in Kings County Supreme Court.

Sanchez was sentenced to 60 days in jail, followed by five years of probation. Sanchez also agreed to transfer ownership of the two property deeds back to the lawful owners. Today’s sentencing marks the first deed theft ruling resulting from an OAG investigation.

Attorney General Letitia James made the announcement.

Too often scammers turn the American Dream of homeownership into a nightmare,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “I’m pleased our office’s investigation has resulted in the return of these stolen deeds to their rightful owners. No one should have to worry about their property being stolen by scammers, and I encourage New Yorkers to follow my office’s tips to help protect themselves from potential foreclosure scams. I remind anyone who tries to harm hardworking New Yorkers that we will hold you accountable.”

The DOF Office of the Sheriff remains committed to investigate and arrest those responsible for deed fraud,” said New York City Sheriff Joseph Fucito. “The Attorney General’s prosecution of this case sends a strong message about the severity of the crime and the commitment to protect the homes of all New Yorkers. I want to commend Sheriff’s Detectives Francesca Rosa and Nene Kodjoe for their efforts in this investigation.

After years of working with New York homeowners, we’ve seen hundreds of scam and fraud cases, many of which result in major losses for families and their communities. But deed fraud cases are some of the most painful and complicated, because homeowners are often forced to fight for years to regain their properties,” said Christie Peale, CEO/Executive Director for the Center for NYC Neighborhoods. “We congratulate the Attorney General’s Office here in making sure that these homes were returned to their lawful owners. The OAG’s significant investments in fighting mortgage scams and deed theft through education and prosecution are particularly welcome, given how easy it is for bad actors to steal homes from hardworking families.”

Launched in December 2016 by the Attorney General’s office, the Foreclosure Rescue Scam Prevention Initiative is a grant program focused on enhancing outreach, education, and referral services for homeowners at risk of fraudulent foreclosure rescue schemes. The Foreclosure Rescue Scam Prevention Initiative is part of the office’s broader efforts to direct resources to at-risk homeowners, including investing $130 million in the Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP). Since 2012, HOPP has provided free, high-quality assistance to over 90,000 families to help avoid foreclosure of their homes.

To protect yourself from becoming a victim of a foreclosure rescue scam, Attorney General James offered the following tips:

  • Be skeptical of online ads or telephone callers that promise they can get you a mortgage modification or save your home from foreclosure. Only your bank or loan servicer can approve a loan modification.
  • Visit homeownerhelpny.com for information on how to avoid or report scams.
  • Do not give your personal financial information, such as your bank account number, social security number, or the name of your loan servicer, to a caller offering to help save you from foreclosure. Your bank will already have this information.
  • Never pay an up-front fee for mortgage-related services. It is a violation of New York law to charge upfront fees for such services, and violations should be reported to the Attorney General’s hotline at 1-855-HOME-456.
  • If you believe you have been scammed by a foreclosure rescue operator or a debt relief organization, submit a complaint to the New York State Attorney General’s Office: ny.gov/consumer-frauds/Filing-a-Consumer-Complaint

The case is being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Don Nguyen and Herman Wun of the Public Integrity Bureau, under the supervision of Real Estate Enforcement Unit Chief Travis Hill and Public Integrity Deputy Bureau Chief Stacy Aronowitz. The Criminal Justice Division is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General José Maldonado.

The Attorney General’s investigation was conducted by Investigator Walter Lynch under the supervision of Deputy Chief John McManus. The Investigations Bureau is led by Chief John Reidy.

The Attorney General thanks the New York City Sheriff’s Office for its assistance on this matter.

 

Robert McCloud, 39, most recently of Warrenville, South Carolina, was sentenced today to 18 months in prison on a federal wire fraud charge stemming from a real estate scheme in which he and others used forged deeds and fake driver’s licenses to fraudulently transfer ownership of District of Columbia homes from the rightful owners.

According to the government’s evidence, McCloud and others identified vacant or seemingly abandoned residential properties in the District of Columbia, and then prepared and filed forged deeds with the District of Columbia’s Recorder of Deeds transferring the properties into fictitious names. Next, they agreed to sell these properties to legitimate purchasers and arranged with unsuspecting title and escrow companies to finalize the sale and transfer ownership. Finally, they shared the fraudulently-obtained sales proceeds amongst themselves.

In his guilty plea, McCloud admitted taking part in two such fraudulent transactions within a two-month period of 2015, which generated a total of $580,482 in proceeds.

In the first, in April 2015, McCloud filed a forged Intra-Family deed with the District of Columbia’s Recorder of Deeds purporting to show that a home in the unit block of K Street NW, Washington, D.C., was transferred from the true owners to a fictitious person.  The true owners, who owned the home outright without any mortgage liens, did not sign the deed and did not give anyone permission to transfer their home. McCloud then appeared at the title company pretending to be the owner in order to close the transaction, presenting a California driver’s license with his photograph but in the name of the fictitious person, signing the settlement documents and selling the property. The title company sent by wire transfer $195,527 to a bank account opened in the name of the fictitious person. McCloud withdrew approximately $43,000 of the funds before the crime was discovered; the rest of the funds were returned to the title company.

In the second transaction, in May 2015, a conspirator arranged for a forged deed with respect to another home, in the 6400 block of 16th Street NW, Washington D.C., to be filed with the Recorder of Deeds. As with the other property, the true owners, who owned the home outright without any mortgage liens, did not sign the deed and did not give anyone permission to sell the residence. In June 2015, McCloud appeared at the title company pretending to be the owner and using another fake California driver’s license with his photograph.  He again signed the settlement documents in the fictitious name. The title company sent by wire transfer $384,955 to a bank account opened in the name of the fictitious person. McCloud was arrested the following day.

The true owners of the homes, who are elderly, have faced difficult and lengthy proceedings in order to retitle the properties in their own names. Unwinding the fraudulent transfer is merely the first step for the victims to reclaim their ownership and interest in the properties and each must now settle various outstanding bills.

Although McCloud received $580,482 in proceeds from his wire fraud scheme regarding both real properties, law enforcement seized a total of $369,990, which was later administratively forfeited.  These forfeited funds, and the partial return of funds to the title company from the K Street transaction, reduced the amount owed in forfeiture to $57,965, which is the amount of the forfeiture money judgment.

McCloud pled guilty in June 2018, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. He was sentenced by the Honorable Amit P. Mehta. In addition to his prison term, McCloud must pay restitution in an amount to be set later by the Court, as well as a forfeiture money judgment of $57,965. Following his prison term, he will be placed on three years of supervised release, the first six months of which is to be spent in home confinement. McCloud also will be required to perform 150 hours of community service.

The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu, Nancy McNamara, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, and Peter Newsham, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).

In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Liu, Assistant Director in Charge McNamara, and Chief Newsham commended the work performed by those who investigated the case from the FBI’s Washington Field Office and the Metropolitan Police Department. They acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Assistant U.S. Attorneys Diane Lucas and Stephanie Miller, former Paralegal Specialist Christopher Toms, Paralegal Specialist Aisha Keys, and Litigation Technology Specialist Leif Hickling. Finally, they commended the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Virginia Cheatham, who prosecuted the case.