Archives For Forgery

Michael Scott Leslie, 57, Boulder, Colorado, pleaded guilty today to federal bank fraud and aggravated identity theft charges.

According to the stipulated facts contained in Leslie’s plea agreement, Leslie owned, operated, or otherwise had an interest in several business entities, some of which were operated out of Colorado.  These entities were involved in or affiliated with financing or originating residential mortgage loans.  Through these business entities, Leslie sold residential mortgage loans to investors, including an FDIC-insured bank in Texas (“the victim bank”).

Between October 2015 and October 2017, Leslie devised and executed a scheme to defraud the victim bank by selling it 144 fraudulent residential mortgage loans valued at $31,908,806.88.  These loans were purportedly originated by one of Leslie’s companies, Montage Mortgage, and “closed” by Snowberry, which earned fees for the closing.  The loans were then presented and sold to the victim bank until Montage identified a final investor.  For these 144 fraudulent loans, that final investor was Mortgage Capital Management (MCM)

Leslie never disclosed to the victim bank that he operated MCM and Snowberry, or the fact that sales to investor MCM, even if they had been real, were not arms-length transactions.

The 144 residential mortgage loans sold to the victim bank were not, in fact, real loans.  The borrowers listed on these 144 fraudulent loans were real individuals, but they had no idea that their identities had been used as part of the sale of the fraudulent loans. The defendant had access to their personal identifying information in one of two primary ways:  (1) the borrowers had used Montage for legitimate residential real estate transactions which were properly executed and closed, or (2) the borrowers had been solicited by Montage about refinancing their existing loans.  In the case of refinance transactions, Montage secured permission from the borrowers to request credit scores and history from the major credit agencies.  After receipt of those credit scores, Montage often told these would-be refinance borrowers that they did not qualify for a refinance.  Leslie then recycled the borrowers’ information, obtained through prior legitimate transactions or attempted refinances, to create and sell nearly $32 million of fraudulent loan packages.

To execute this scheme, Leslie forged signatures on closing documents and fabricated and altered credit reports as well as title documents, often by using the names of legitimate companies.  The fraudulent real estate transactions were never filed with the respective counties in which the properties were located, there were no closings, and no liens were ever recorded.  Through numerous bank accounts for the various business entities and his personal accounts, the defendant used money in a Ponzi-like fashion from prior fraudulent loans sold to the victim bank to fund future fraudulent loans.  This complex flow of money continued until the defendant’s fraud was detected.  When the fraud was discovered, the victim bank still had 12 fraudulent loans, valued at $3,887,505.93, on its books that it could not, given that the loans did not exist, sell to any other legitimate third-party investor.

Leslie appeared remotely on a $50,000 unsecured bond, which was continued at the hearing’s conclusion.  The Denver office of the FBI, and the Offices of the Inspector General for both the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) joined in today’s announcement.

United States Attorney Jason R. Dunn made the announcement.

Chief U.S. District Court Judge Philip A. Brimmer presided over the change of plea hearing today, July 31, 2020.  Leslie was first charged by information on June 5, 2020.  This case was investigated by the Denver office of the FBI, and the Offices of the Inspector General for both the Housing and Urban Development and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.  The defendant was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Hetal J. Doshi and Jeremy Sibert.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado.  Related court documents can be found on PACER by searching for Case Number 20-cr-171.

The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice.  Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.

Jordan Horsford, 29, East New York, Brooklyn was sentenced today to five months in jail and five years’ probation for 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, 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 convinced the victim to sign away the deed to his home on Barbey Street, East New York, Brooklyn. The defendant 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 realized he needed another document notarized, but the notary refused so the defendant cut and pasted her original signature. He then recorded the deed, which had been signed over to him.

Finally, 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.

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez made the announcement.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “With today’s sentencing this defendant is being held accountable for preying on his elderly neighbor and abusing his trust. I urge seniors and their family members to protect their homes, especially as property values continue to rise in Brooklyn, by taking care not to sign any documents pertaining to their properties without the advice of a reputable attorney. I remain committed to prosecuting deed thefts like this and assisting all homeowners whenever possible.”

The defendant pleaded guilty to third-degree grand larceny in June and consented to an order nullifying the fraudulent recorded deed. http://www.mortgagefraudblog.com/?s=Jordan+Horsford

The case was 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.

 

George Heaton, 73, West Palm Beach, Florida, Deborah Dentry Baggett, 54, Greenville, Tennessee (formerly of Palm Beach County), and Eric Granitur, 59, Vero Beach, Florida were charged by a federal grand jury in a nine-count Superseding Indictment with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and various substantive bank fraud offenses. 

According to allegations contained in the Superseding Indictment:

From 2006 through 2009, defendants Heaton, Baggett, Granitur and others conspired to perpetrate a complex mortgage fraud scheme against various FDIC-insured lenders by concealing incentives offered and paid to buyers of condominium units at the Vero Beach Hotel and Club, Vero Beach, Florida, a luxury ocean-front condo-tel developed by Palm Beach County based real estate developer George Heaton.

The defendants and their coconspirators concealed and misrepresented the amount of seller paid incentives, including cash-to-close, cash rebates, and seller-provided cash deposits, and transferred incentive money through a Palm Beach County law firm’s bank account in order to conceal the fact that the funds were coming from the seller, and not the buyer, as was required by the mortgage lenders.

On several occasions, defendant Baggett took large sums of money, without permission, from the bank account of another client of her accounting business to use for deposit and down payment money for condo purchases. Defendant Baggett also forged client names on sale and purchase contracts, and provided the personal financial information of those other clients without their permission, all to give defendant Heaton’s commercial lender the false impression that he had obtained actual buyers for the units, in order to maintain construction financing.

The fraud scheme caused financial institutions to fund mortgage loans, totaling more than $20 million.

If convicted, the defendants face a statutory maximum term of 30 years’ imprisonment, a $1 million fine, and mandatory restitution, on each count in the indictment.

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Timothy Mowery, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Housing Finance Agent, Office of Inspector General (FHFA-OIG), Southeast Region, and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Division, made the announcement.

Mr. Ferrer commends the investigative efforts of the FHFA-OIG and FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Joseph A. Capone.

Alla Samchuk, 45, Roseville, California, was found guilty in a mortgage fraud scheme involving three properties after a four day jury trial in Sacramento, California.  Samchuk was convicted of six counts of bank fraud, six counts of making a false statement to a financial institution, one count of money laundering, and one count of aggravated identity theft. After the verdict, U.S. District Court Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. ordered Samchuk taken into custody.

According to court documents, from 2006 through 2008, Samchuk, a licensed real estate salesperson, orchestrated a mortgage fraud scheme involving three properties in the Sacramento area using straw buyers. Two of the houses were purchased so that Samchuk herself could occupy them. She lacked the ability to qualify for a loan, so she instead recruited straw buyers to apply for the loans in their names. Samchuk caused the submission of loan applications containing false representations of income, employment, assets, and a false indication that the straw buyers would occupy the homes as their primary residence.

A second objective of the scheme was to obtain HELOC (home equity line of credit) funds. According to evidence at trial, on two of the properties, Samchuk diverted or attempted to divert HELOC funds to her own benefit. Samchuk caused the HELOC loans to fund by submitting false statements and documents to the lender regarding the qualifications of the straw buyers.

The scheme involved two properties in Roseville, California and one in El Dorado Hills, California. In 2007, Samchuk filed an application for a HELOC on one of the properties without the straw buyer’s knowledge or consent. To obtain the HELOC, she forged the signature of the straw buyer on a short form deed of trust that she caused to be notarized and recorded. The stated purpose of the HELOC was home improvement, but once the line of credit was funded, Samchuk quickly diverted all of the funds to her own use, spending the proceeds on a Lexus and the repayment of a substantial personal debt.

Sentencing is set for October 21, 2016. Samchuk faces a maximum of 30 years in prison for each count of bank fraud and false statements to a financial institution, 10 years in prison for money laundering, and two years in prison for aggravated identity theft.

The verdict was announced by Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert. This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Audrey B. Hemesath and Andre M. Espinosa are prosecuting the case.

Kurt Sanborn, 48, formerly of Dracut, Massachusetts, was sentenced to 27 months in prison.

In May 2003, Sanborn used a private $500,000 loan to buy a home in Manchester, New Hampshire.  In exchange, the private lenders received a first mortgage on the Manchester property which was recorded at the Hillsborough County, New Hampshire, Registry of Deeds.

In October 2003, Sanborn asked a mortgage company for a $685,000 loan to buy a second home in Gilford, New Hampshire.  The mortgage company agreed to finance the transaction if it received first mortgages on the Manchester and Gilford properties.  To deceive the mortgage company, Sanborn caused a mortgage discharge that contained the private lenders’ forged signatures to be filed with the Hillsborough County Registry of Deeds.  Sanborn’s conduct involving interstate wire communication and documents that were delivered by the U.S. Postal Service as part of the fraud served as the basis for wire and mail fraud charges.

Sanborn was also charged with bank fraud based on his conduct, in February 2004, in acquiring a $150,000 loan from a federally insured bank in exchange for a second mortgage on the Manchester property.  Sanborn concealed from the bank the private lenders’ mortgage on the Manchester property.

In October 2004, Sanborn sold the Manchester property without disclosing the private lenders’ mortgage on the property to the new owners.  He then used the proceeds of the sale to make a $185,000 payment to the mortgage company and to fully repay the $150,000 loan from the federally insured bank.

Sanborn pleaded guilty to the charges in May 2014.

The sentence was announced by Acting United States Attorney Donald Feith. The case was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service.  It was prosecuted by AUSA Robert Kinsella.

Regina Taylor, 59, Chicago, Illinois, a former clerk for the Cook County, Illinois, Recorder of Deeds, accepted a $200 cash bribe in exchange for preparing and agreeing to record a back-dated deed on an Oak Park, Illinois, home, according to a federal indictment.  Taylor accepted the bribe from an individual who purportedly wanted to add a relative’s name to the deed.  Unbeknownst to Taylor, the individual was actually an undercover law enforcement agent, the indictment states. Continue Reading…

Clifford Elliot Ryan, 29, Chicago, Illinois, was charged in two separate indictments in Tennessee in connection with forgery to obtain a real estate license.  During the course of the investigation, agents from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation developed information that on two different occasions, Ryan hired two different individuals to submit their fingerprints as his so he could obtain a Tennessee real estate license. The investigation additionally revealed Ryan believed prior arrests on his record would prevent him from passing the background check necessary for obtaining a license.

In January, the Wilson County Grand Jury returned indictments for Ryan, a former resident of Tennessee, charging him with one count of Criminal Simulation and one count of Forgery/Passing a Forged Instrument in Wilson County, Tennessee. In March, the Davidson County Grand Jury returned indictments, charging Ryan with one count of Fabrication of Evidence, one count of Attempted Fabrication of Evidence, and one count of Criminal Simulation.

Court Holds Claims of Forged Deeds Not Subject to Time Limits (New York)

Although the CPLR sets forth an applicable statute of limitations period for virtually all causes of action, and otherwise provides for a catch-all limitations period under CPLR 213(1) for claims that are not specifically delineated, the Court of Appeals has recently held that one particular, and not altogether uncommon, cause of action is not subject to any limitations period. In a remarkable 4-3 holding in Faison v. Lewis, the majority of the Court of Appeals held that a claim alleging forgery of a deed is not subject to any statute of limitations defense.

Feds charge convict with running Philly real-estate scam from KY prison

Not even a stint in a Kentucky prison cell could stop serial counterfeiter and forger Kenneth Hampton from engaging in one of Philadelphia’s oldest real estate scams, federal prosecutors said.

In an indictment unsealed Tuesday, Hampton, 54, was charged with recruiting three family members in a scheme to steal two West Philadelphia rowhouses by filing fraudulent deeds with the city’s Department of Records.

Mohamed Daoud, 50, a Norwegian businessman, has pleaded guilty to laundering the proceeds of a complex scheme to steal real property. According to his plea agreement, between July 2012 and February 2013, Daoud helped to launder some of the millions of dollars in proceeds generated by a group of confederates who posed as the real owners of Southern California homes in order to “sell” the properties to unsuspecting buyers—who later learned that they had actually purchased nothing. Immediately after each sale, Daoud admitted, the confederates would disburse the money, ensuring that the funds vanished and the buyers could not recover their stolen money. Continue Reading…