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George Kritopoulos, 50, Salem, Massachusetts, a former self-proclaimed Salem real estate developer has been convicted by a federal jury in Boston in connection with a 10-year mortgage fraud scheme involving at least two dozen fraudulent loan transactions totaling $6.5 million and resulting in more than $3.8 million in losses to lenders.

Kritopoulos was convicted on May 27, 2022, of one count of conspiracy, two counts of wire fraud, six counts of bank fraud, one count of aiding the preparation of a false income tax return and one count of obstruction of justice. U.S. District Court Judge Patti B. Saris scheduled sentencing for Sept. 29, 2022. Kritopoulos was charged in September 2018 along with co-defendants Joseph Bates III and David Plunkett.

From 2006 through 2015, Kritopoulos, Bates and others engaged in a scheme to defraud banks and other financial institutions by causing false information to be submitted to those institutions on behalf of borrowers – people recruited to purchase properties – located primarily in Salem. The properties were usually multi-family buildings with two-to-four units, which the co-conspirators then converted into condominiums. Kritopoulos recruited new borrowers to purchase the individual condominium units, which were also financed by mortgage loans obtained by fraud.

The false information submitted to lenders included, among other things, representations concerning the borrowers’ employment, income, assets and intent to occupy the property. Specifically, the false employment information included representations that borrowers were employed by entities that were, in fact, shell companies “owned” by Kritopoulos and were used to advance the fraudulent scheme. The employment information also included false representations about the income that the borrowers received from the entities, when, in fact, the borrowers received little or no income from them. As a result, the income asserted on the borrowers’ loan applications that Kritopoulos submitted to lenders grossly inflated their true income. The false information also included representations that the recruited borrowers intended to live in the properties that they were purchasing, when the borrowers, in fact, did not intend to do so. Kritopoulos brought newly recruited borrowers to Plunkett, who then prepared tax returns that contained false and inflated income. Some of those tax returns were submitted to lenders in support of the fraudulent loan applications.

Because the borrowers did not have the financial ability to repay the loans, in all but two instances among 21 properties, they defaulted on their loan payments, resulting in foreclosures and losses to the lenders of more than $3.8 million.

In addition, Kritopoulos sought to obstruct the federal criminal investigation into the mortgage fraud scheme by encouraging Bates and Plunkett to make false statements and create false documents he hoped would make the companies appear to have been legitimate.

In October 2018, Bates pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy, three counts of wire fraud affecting a financial institution, and two counts of bank fraud. A sentencing hearing for Bates has not yet been scheduled by the Court. In February 2019, Plunkett pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud and one count of aiding in the submission of false tax returns and is scheduled to be sentenced on September 15, 2022.

Mr. Kritopoulos held himself out to be a prominent real estate developer and believed he was above the law. This guilty verdict makes it clear that he is not,” said United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins. “Mr. Kritopoulos and his co-conspirators thought they could line their pockets by victimizing innocent lenders and borrowers. When the scheme began unraveling, Mr. Kritopoulos attempted to have his co-conspirators create phony documents, but they refused. In an interview, Mr. Kritopoulos lied to investigators. We are committed to holding those who engage in this type of behavior accountable.

This verdict proves that George Kritopoulos is a predator who repeatedly targeted young, financially vulnerable victims and exploited them to pad his own pockets while driving them deeper into debt. He lied to the banks on behalf of those victims and tried to obstruct our investigation,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division. “Mortgage fraud cases like this one are important to deter would-be fraudsters from acting, and to ensure those who commit fraud, like Kritopoulos, face justice. After all, this type of crime artificially influences home values and threatens the investments of lawful buyers.”

Mortgage fraud, like many financial crimes, creates untold harm to individuals, communities, businesses and the integrity of the financial system,” said Joleen D. Simpson, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division, Boston Office. “This guilty verdict is proof of IRS Criminal Investigation’s dedication to protecting the financial health of our communities when they are threatened.”

The charges of bank fraud and wire fraud each provide for sentences of up to 30 years in prison and five years of supervised release. The charge of obstruction of justice provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and five years of supervised release. The charge of conspiracy provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison and three years of supervised release. The charge of aiding the preparation of false tax returns provides for a sentence of up to three years in prison and one year of supervised release. Each charge also carries a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.

U.S. Attorney Rollins, FBI SAC Bonavolonta, IRS CI SAC Simpson and Christina Scaringi, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, Northeastern Regional Office, made the announcement today. Valuable assistance was provided by the Salem Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Victor A. Wild, of Rollins’ Securities, Financial & Cyber Fraud Unit, and Brian M. LaMacchia, of Rollins’ Affirmative Civil Enforcement Unit, are prosecuting the case.

 

 

Gabriel T. Tavarez, 40, Westminster, Massachusetts, he principal and co-founder of a mortgage short sale assistance company was sentenced yesterday in connection with defrauding mortgage lenders and investors out of nearly $500,000 in proceeds from about 90 short sale transactions.

Tavarez founded and co-operated Loss Mitigation Services, LLC, a short sale assistance company in North Andover, Massachusetts,  with co-conspirator Jaime L. Mulvihill. A short sale occurs where a mortgage debt on a home is greater than the home’s market value—such a mortgage loan is commonly referred to as being “under water”—and a mortgage lender agrees to a sale of the home even though it will take a loss on the transaction. Loss Mitigation Services, purportedly acting on behalf of homeowners whose mortgage loans were under water, negotiated with mortgage lenders for approval of short sales in lieu of foreclosure. Mortgage lenders typically forbid short sale negotiators, such as Loss Mitigation Services, from receiving any proceeds of a short sale.

From 2014 to 2017, Tavarez and Mulvihill, directly or through their employees, falsely claimed to homeowners, real estate agents and closing attorneys that mortgage lenders had agreed to pay Loss Mitigation Services fees known as “seller paid closing costs” or “seller concessions” from the proceeds of the short sales. In reality, the mortgage lenders had never approved Loss Mitigation Services to receive such fees. When the short sales closed, at the instruction of Tavarez, Mulvihill, or others working with them, settlement agents paid Loss Mitigation Services the fees, which typically were 3% of the short sale price above and beyond any fees to real estate agents, closing attorneys and others involved in the transaction. To deceive mortgage lenders about the true nature of the fees, Tavarez or Mulvihill filed, or caused others to file, false short sale transaction documents with mortgage lenders, including altered settlement statements and fabricated contracts and mortgage loan preapproval letters. In addition, Tavarez created, or directed others to create, fake letters from mortgage brokers claiming that the brokers had approved buyers for financing, in order to convince mortgage lenders to approve the additional fees.

Mulvihill pleaded guilty to his role in the conspiracy and was sentenced in February 2020 to six months in prison.

Tavarez was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton to seven months in prison and two years of supervised release. Tavarez was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $475,458. In June 2020, Tavarez pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division; Robert Manchak, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General, Northeast Region; Christina Scaringi, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, Northeast Regional Office; and Joleen D. Simpson, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation in Boston made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian M. LaMacchia of Rollins’ Affirmative Civil Enforcement Unit prosecuted the case.

Barry Wayne Plunkett Jr., 61, and Nancy Plunkett, 56, both of Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, a former  attorney and his wife pleaded guilty today in federal court in Boston in connection with various mortgage fraud schemes.

Prior to being disbarred in October 2017, Barry Wayne Plunkett Jr. owned and operated the Plunkett Law Firm where his wife, Nancy Plunkett, was his office assistant and paralegal.

The defendants engaged in several bank fraud schemes. In one scheme, from September 2012 to July 2016, the defendants defrauded six mortgage lenders and 14 homeowners for whom the Plunkett Law Firm handled the closings for new mortgage loans to refinance residential properties. The defendants informed the mortgage lenders that pre-existing mortgages were paid off from the new loan proceeds when, in fact, the Plunketts intentionally failed to pay off the prior liens and instead converted more than $900,000 in payoff funds for their own purposes.

In other bank fraud schemes – between April 2015 and March 2018 – the Plunketts fraudulently used various names, entities and false documents to obtain three successive mortgage loans on their home in Hyannis Port in amounts of $412,000, $470,000 and $1.2 million. The defendants pledged as collateral a property in Hyannis Port that was held in a family trust for which Barry Wayne Plunkett Jr. was one of three beneficiaries. Both defendants participated in providing false documents to the lenders, including false title reports and other records to falsely represent that the property was free and clear of existing mortgage liens and forged documents in the names of other people. The defendants also made misrepresentations to a lender that Nancy Plunkett was a single woman living in Wellesley who was purchasing the property in her maiden name as a business investment when, in fact, the defendants had been married since 2014 and the property was their residence.

The charge of bank fraud provides for a sentence of up to 30 years in prison, five years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. The charge of tax evasion provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. The charge of aggravated identity theft provides for a mandatory two-year sentence to be served consecutively to any other sentence imposed. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The Plunkett’s pleaded guilty to five counts of bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. Barry Wayne Plunkett Jr. also pleaded guilty to one count of tax evasion. U.S. Senior District Court Judge Mark L. Wolf scheduled sentencing for June 10, 2022. The Plunketts were indicted in July 2020.

United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division; and Joleen D. Simpson, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation in Boston made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Victor A. Wild and Mackenzie Queenin, of Rollins’ Securities, Financial & Cyber Fraud Unit, and Carol Head, Chief of Rollins’ Asset Recovery Unit, are prosecuting the case.

 

Michael P. Flavin, 38, Quincy, Massachusetts, a real estate broker pleaded guilty today to operating a scheme in which he falsely marketed properties that were not for sale, or had already been sold, and then stole the buyers’ real estate deposits.

Between 2017 and April 2020, Flavin solicited deposits on real estate transactions by marketing numerous real estate properties that were not actually for sale. In each case, Flavin executed purchase and sale agreements and received deposit checks from or on behalf of the potential buyers, even though the actual owners of the properties had not agreed to sell their properties or to sell them to those buyers. Flavin forged the signatures of the sellers on the purported purchase and sale agreements. Over this period of approximately three years, Flavin cashed more than 60 deposit checks totaling approximately $1.8 million.

The charges of wire fraud each provide for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. The charges of aggravated identity theft each provide for a mandatory sentence of two years in prison to be served consecutive to any other sentence imposed, up to one year of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Flavin pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft. U.S. District Court Judge Allison D. Burroughs scheduled sentencing for April 12, 2022.

Acting United States Attorney Nathaniel Mendell and Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Victor A. Wild and Sara Miron Bloom of Mendell’s Securities, Financial & Cyber Fraud Unit are prosecuting the case.

 

Barry Wayne Plunkett Jr., 60, and Nancy Plunkett, 55, both of Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, a former Massachusetts attorney and his wife were indicted today in federal court in Boston in connection with various mortgage fraud schemes.

According to the indictment, until he was disbarred in October 2017, Barry Wayne Plunkett Jr. owned and operated the Plunkett Law Firm where his wife, Nancy Plunkett, was his office assistant and paralegal.

The indictment alleges that the defendants engaged in several bank fraud schemes. In one scheme, from September 2012 to July 2016, the defendants defrauded six mortgage lenders and 14 homeowners for whom the Plunkett Law Firm handled the closings for new mortgage loans to refinance residential properties. The defendants informed the mortgage lenders that pre-existing mortgages were paid off from the new loan proceeds when, in fact, the Plunketts intentionally failed to pay off the prior liens and instead converted more than $900,000 in payoff funds for their own purposes.

In other bank fraud schemes – between April 2015 and March 2018 – it is alleged that the Plunketts fraudulently used various names, entities and false documents to obtain three successive mortgage loans on their home in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts in amounts of $412,000, $470,000 and $1.2 million. The defendants pledged as collateral a property in Hyannis Port that was held in a family trust for which Barry Wayne Plunkett Jr. was one of three beneficiaries. Both defendants participated in providing false documents to the lenders, including false title reports and other records to falsely represent that the property was free and clear of existing mortgage liens and forged documents in the names of other people. The defendants also allegedly made misrepresentations to a lender that Nancy Plunkett was a single woman living in Wellesley who was purchasing the property in her maiden name as a business investment when, in fact, the defendants had been married since 2014 and the property was their residence.

Both were were indicted on five counts of bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. Barry Wayne Plunkett Jr. was also charged with one count of tax evasion.

The charge of bank fraud provides for a sentence of up to 30 years in prison, five years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. The charge of tax evasion provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.  The charge of aggravated identity theft provides for a mandatory two-year sentence to be served consecutively to any other sentence imposed. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

 

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; and Kristina O’Connell, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation in Boston made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Victor A. Wild of Lelling’s Securities, Financial & Cyber Fraud Unit is prosecuting the case.

Gabriel T. Tavarez, 40, the principal and co-founder of a North Andover, Massachusetts mortgage short sale assistance company pleaded guilty today in connection with defrauding mortgage lenders and investors out of nearly $500,000 in proceeds from about 90 short sale transactions.

Tavarez founded and co-operated Loss Mitigation Services, LLC, with co-conspirator Jaime L. Mulvihill, 40, North Andover, Massachusetts who previously pleaded guilty and was sentenced in February 2020 to six months in prison.

The charges arise out of the defendants’ scheme to steal undisclosed and improper fees from mortgage lenders in connection with short sales of homes. A short sale occurs where the mortgage debt on the home is greater than the sale price, and the mortgage lender agrees to take a loss on the transaction.

Loss Mitigation Services, purportedly acting on behalf of underwater homeowners, negotiated with mortgage lenders for approval of short sales in lieu of foreclosure. Mortgage lenders typically forbid short sale negotiators, such as Loss Mitigation Services, from receiving any proceeds of a short sale.

From 2014 to 2017, Tavarez and Mulvihill, directly or through their employees, falsely claimed to homeowners, real estate agents, and closing attorneys that mortgage lenders had agreed to pay Loss Mitigation Services fees known as “seller paid closing costs” or “seller concessions” from the proceeds of the short sales. In reality, the mortgage lenders had never approved Loss Mitigation Services to receive those fees. When the short sales closed, at the instruction of Tavarez or Mulvihill, or others working with them, settlement agents paid Loss Mitigation Services the fees, which typically were 3% of the short sale price above and beyond any fees to real estate agents, closing attorneys and others involved in the transaction. To deceive mortgage lenders about the true nature of the fees, Tavarez or Mulvihill filed, or caused others to file, false short sale transaction documents with mortgage lenders, including altered settlement statements and fabricated contracts and mortgage loan preapproval letters. Tavarez and Mulvihill fabricated the transaction documents, or caused them to be fabricated, in order to justify the additional fees and conceal that they were being paid to Loss Mitigation Services. In addition, Tavarez created, or directed others to create, fake letters from mortgage brokers claiming that the brokers had approved buyers for financing, in order to convince mortgage lenders to approve the additional fees. http://www.mortgagefraudblog.com/?s=Gabriel+T.+Tavarez

The charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss. The charge of aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory two-year sentence that must run consecutively to any other sentence imposed, one year of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Tavarez is scheduled for sentencing on October 7, 2020.

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Robert Manchak, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General, Northeast Region; Christina  Scaringi, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, Northeast Regional Office; and Kristina O’Connell, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation in Boston made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sara Miron Bloom and Brian M. LaMacchia of Lelling’s Office are prosecuting the case.

Jaime L. Mulvihill, 40, North Andover, Massachusetts, the principal and co-founder of a mortgage short sale assistance company was sentenced yesterday in connection with defrauding mortgage lenders and investors out of nearly $500,000 in proceeds from about 90 short sale transactions.

Mulvihill and her co-defendant Gabriel T. Tavarez founded and operated Loss Mitigation Services, LLC. The charges arise out of the defendants’ scheme to steal undisclosed and improper fees from mortgage lenders in connection with short sales of homes. A short sale occurs where the mortgage debt on the home is greater than the sale price, and the mortgage lender agrees to take a loss on the transaction.

Loss Mitigation Services, purportedly acting on behalf of underwater homeowners, negotiated with mortgage lenders for approval of short sales in lieu of foreclosure. Mortgage lenders typically forbid short sale negotiators, such as Loss Mitigation Services, from receiving any proceeds of a short sale.

From 2014 to 2017, Mulvihill and, allegedly, Tavarez, directly or through their employees, falsely claimed to homeowners, real estate agents and closing attorneys that mortgage lenders had agreed to pay Loss Mitigation Services fees known as “seller paid closing costs” or “seller concessions” from the proceeds of the short sales. In reality, the mortgage lenders had never approved Loss Mitigation Services to receive those fees. When the short sales closed, at the instruction of Mulvihill, or others working with her and Tavarez, settlement agents paid Loss Mitigation Services the fees, which typically were 3% of the short sale price above and beyond any fees to real estate agents, closing attorneys and others involved in the transaction. To deceive mortgage lenders about the true nature of the fees, Mulvihill or Tavarez filed, or caused others to file, false short sale transaction documents with mortgage lenders, including altered settlement statements and fabricated contracts and mortgage loan preapproval letters. Mulvihill and, allegedly, Tavarez, fabricated the transaction documents, or caused them to be fabricated, in order to justify the additional fees and conceal that they were being paid to Loss Mitigation Services. http://www.mortgagefraudblog.com/?s=Jaime+L.+Mulvihill

The defendants defrauded the Federal National Mortgage Association, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Mulvihill was sentenced by U.S. Senior District Court Judge Rya W. Zobel to six months in prison, two years of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $478,458 and forfeiture of $239,229. In November 2019, Mulvihill pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Tavarez has pleaded not guilty and is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Robert Manchak, Inspector General of the Federal Housing Finance Agency; Christina Scaringi, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, Northeast Regional Office; and Kristina O’Connell, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation in Boston made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sara Miron Bloom and Brian M. LaMacchia of Lelling’s Office are prosecuting the case.

 

Jaime L. Mulvihill, 40, the principal and co-founder of a North Andover mortgage short sale assistance company, pleaded guilty today in connection with defrauding mortgage lenders and investors out of nearly $500,000 in proceeds from about 90 short sale transactions.

Mulvihill was charged on November 8, 2019, with co-conspirator Gabriel T. Tavarez.

Together the defendants founded and operated Loss Mitigation Services, LLC. The charges arise out of the defendants’ scheme to steal undisclosed and improper fees from mortgage lenders in connection with short sales of homes. A short sale occurs where the mortgage debt on the home is greater than the sale price, and the mortgage lender agrees to take a loss on the transaction.

Loss Mitigation Services, purportedly acting on behalf of underwater homeowners, negotiated with mortgage lenders for approval of short sales in lieu of foreclosure. Mortgage lenders typically forbid short sale negotiators, such as Loss Mitigation Services, from receiving any proceeds of a short sale.

According to the court documents, from 2014 to 2017, Mulvihill and, allegedly, Tavarez, directly or through their employees, falsely claimed to homeowners, real estate agents and closing attorneys that mortgage lenders had agreed to pay Loss Mitigation Services fees known as “seller paid closing costs” or “seller concessions” from the proceeds of the short sales. In reality, the mortgage lenders had never approved Loss Mitigation Services to receive those fees. When the short sales closed, at the instruction of Mulvihill, or others working with him and Tavarez, settlement agents paid Loss Mitigation Services the fees, which typically were 3% of the short sale price above and beyond any fees to real estate agents, closing attorneys and others involved in the transaction. To deceive mortgage lenders about the true nature of the fees, Mulvihill or Tavarez filed, or caused others to file, false short sale transaction documents with mortgage lenders, including altered settlement statements and fabricated contracts and mortgage loan preapproval letters. Mulvihill and, allegedly, Tavarez, fabricated the transaction documents, or caused them to be fabricated, in order to justify the additional fees and conceal that they were being paid to Loss Mitigation Services.

The defendants defrauded the Federal National Mortgage Association, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Mulvihill pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud before U.S. Senior District Court Judge Rya W. Zobel who scheduled sentencing for February 25, 2020.

The charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Robert Manchak, Inspector General of the Federal Housing Finance Agency; Christina Scaringi, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, Northeast Regional Office; and Kristina O’Connell, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation in Boston made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sara Miron Bloom and Brian M. LaMacchia of Lelling’s Office are prosecuting the case.

The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The remaining defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Gabriel T. Tavarez, 39, and Jaime L. Mulvihill, 40, who together founded and operated Loss Mitigation Services, LLC, a mortgage short sale assistance company were charged today in connection with defrauding mortgage lenders and investors out of nearly $500,000 in proceeds from about 90 short sale transactions.

The defendants allegedly defrauded the Federal National Mortgage Association, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Tavarez and Mulvihill were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Tavarez also was charged with aggravated identity theft.

The charges arise out of the defendants’ alleged scheme to steal undisclosed and improper fees from mortgage lenders in connection with short sales of homes. A short sale occurs where the mortgage debt on the home is greater than the sale price, and the mortgage lender agrees to take a loss on the transaction.

Loss Mitigation Services, purportedly acting on behalf of underwater homeowners, negotiated with mortgage lenders for approval of short sales in lieu of foreclosure. Mortgage lenders typically forbid short sale negotiators, such as Loss Mitigation Services, from receiving any proceeds of a short sale.

According to the court documents, from 2014 to 2017, Tavarez and Mulvihill, directly or through their employees, falsely claimed to homeowners, real estate agents, and closing attorneys that mortgage lenders had agreed to pay Loss Mitigation Services fees known as “seller paid closing costs” or “seller concessions” from the proceeds of the short sales. In reality, the mortgage lenders had never approved Loss Mitigation Services to receive those fees. When the short sales closed, at the instruction of Tavarez or Mulvihill, or others working with them, settlement agents paid Loss Mitigation Services the fees, which typically were 3% of the short sale price above and beyond any fees to real estate agents, closing attorneys and others involved in the transaction. To deceive mortgage lenders about the true nature of the fees, Tavarez or Mulvihill filed, or caused others to file, false short sale transaction documents with mortgage lenders, including altered settlement statements and fabricated contracts and mortgage loan preapproval letters. Tavarez and Mulvihill fabricated the transaction documents, or caused them to be fabricated, in order to justify the additional fees and conceal that they were being paid to Loss Mitigation Services. In addition, Tavarez created fake letters from mortgage brokers claiming that the brokers had approved buyers for financing, in order to convince mortgage lenders to approve the additional fees.

The charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss. The charge of aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory two-year sentence that must run consecutively to any other sentence imposed, one year of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Robert Manchak, Inspector General of the Federal Housing Finance Agency; Christina Scaringi, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, Northeast Regional Office; and Kristina O’Connell, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation in Boston made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sara Miron Bloom and Brian M. LaMacchia of Lelling’s Office are prosecuting the case.

The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The defendants are presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Nuhu (aka Nurden aka Noah) Mohammed, 60, Foxborough, Massachusetts has been indicted, arrested, and arraigned today in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme that largely targeted immigrant families.

The AG’s Office alleges that between October 2012 and July 2019, Mohammed repeatedly represented himself as a mortgage broker or lawyer, promising victims that he could provide assistance in securing mortgages and/or loan modifications. While Mohammed allegedly collected thousands of dollars from these victims, many of whom were at risk of foreclosure, he did not provide any meaningful assistance in securing these mortgages or modifying loans. He also allegedly directed his clients to forward all correspondence between clients and loan servicers to him and asked any letters to remain unopened to prevent them from discovering that he had not provided any assistance.

As a result of these alleged actions, one affected family lost two properties to foreclosure, and all of the victims lost significant amounts of money. Investigators allege that Mohammed primarily targeted immigrant families and exploited their lack of knowledge about the residential mortgage and/or loan modification process, as well as their limited English language proficiency, to steal from them.

The AG’s Office also alleges that Mohammed used the personal identifying information of one of his victims to open two credit cards in her name without her knowledge or consent.

In total, the AG’s Office alleges that Mohammed stole $152,333 from clients, including the money that he charged on the alleged fraudulent credit cards.

Mohammed was arrested on Thursday by Massachusetts State Police assigned to the AG’s Office in Boston. He was arraigned today in Norfolk Superior Court and was held on $50,000 bail. He was ordered to have no contact with the victims, and if he posts bail, he will be required to meet weekly with probation officers and not leave the state. He is due to appear in Norfolk Superior Court on November 15, 2019 for a status hearing.

Mohammed was indicted by a Statewide Grand Jury on the charges of Larceny Over $250 (1 count), Larceny Over $250 by Single Scheme (6 counts), Larceny Over $1,200 by Single Scheme (3 counts), Forgery (1 count), Uttering (1 count), Identity Fraud (2 counts), False Material Statements or Omissions During or In Connection with Mortgage Lending Process (4 counts), Fraudulent Use of Credit Cards to Obtain Money, Goods or Services (2 counts), and Common and Notorious Thief (1 count).

Attorney General Maura Healey made the announced.

This case was referred to the AG’s Office by the Stoughton Police Department.

These charges are allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

This investigation is ongoing, and the AG’s Office believes that this defendant has used several aliases to hide his identity. If any member of the public believes they may have been victimized by this conduct or has any information relating to others who may have been victimized, they are encouraged to contact the White Collar and Public Integrity Division of the Attorney General’s Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Gretchen Brodigan and Assistant Attorney General Sara Yoffe, of the AG’s White Collar and Public Integrity Division, with assistance from Financial Investigator Anthony Taylor, Victim Witness Advocate Megan Murphy, the AGO’s Digital Evidence Lab, Massachusetts State Police assigned to the AG’s Office, and the Stoughton Police Department.