Archives For occupancy fraud

Terrell Hampton, 37, was sentenced today to 119 months in prison for defrauding the City of Philadelphia, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and innocent owners and purchasers of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania real estate.

Terrell Hampton, along with his father Kenneth Hampton and other family members, stole vacant homes in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that belonged to people who could not afford to defend their properties. Kenneth Hampton was convicted and sentenced to 200 months in prison in November.

At the direction of his father, who was in prison at the time, Terrell looked for vacant properties to target, created and filed fraudulent deeds, sought buyers for the stolen properties, and kept Kenneth apprised of scheme developments. They communicated through phone calls, emails, and letters, as well as through Kenneth’s fiancée, co-conspirator Roxanne Mason.

The participants in the scheme moved into the stolen properties under the cover of fake leases that purported to grant them the right to occupancy.  They then found ways to profit from the stolen properties, either by selling the homes to good faith purchasers, by saddling them with debt, or by taking advantage of government programs designed to aid legitimate homeowners.

The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain.

This defendant stole from people who didn’t have the resources to fight back, often resulting in victim battling against victim, homeowner against good faith purchaser,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “He lived up to the low example set by his father, and I am proud that the talented case team has put both of them behind bars.”

The case was investigated by the United States Secret Service, Department of Homeland Security – Office of the Inspector General, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Office of the Inspector General, City of Philadelphia.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Paul G. Shapiro and Sarah M. Wolfe

Lurlyn A. Winchester, 59, New City, New York, a former Justice for the Town Court of Monroe, pled guilty, in federal court, on charges that she made false statements in connection with an application for a loan she obtained to purchase a residence in Monroe, New York in order to satisfy a residency requirement attached to her position as Town Justice, and obstruction of justice for providing Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”)  task force members, who were questioning her about her mortgage loan, with false documents, including fabricated rent payment receipts.

According to the allegations contained in the Indictment http://www.mortgagefraudblog.com/?s=Lurlyn+A.+Winchester as well as statements made in public court proceedings:

On or about November 5, 2013, Winchester, the defendant, was elected Town of Monroe Justice.  Under New York law, she was required to reside in Monroe in order to be eligible to hold that Town of Monroe Justice position.  At the time, she and her husband lived in a home in New City, New York (“the New City Home”), that they purchased in 1997.  In or about November 2013, Winchester attempted to purchase a condominium in Monroe, New York (“Monroe Condominium-1”).  On or about December 17, 2013, Winchester entered into a lease agreement with a tenant (“Tenant-1”) to rent the New City Home to Tenant-1.  At around that time, Tenant-1 provided Winchester with a $7,500 check.  On a later date, Tenant-1 also provided Winchester with a $1,500 check.

In or about March 2014, the deal to purchase Monroe Condominium-1 fell through and Winchester returned $7,500 to Tenant-1.  In the same month, Winchester entered into a contract to purchase a second condominium (“Monroe Condominium-2”), which was in the process of being built.

In or about June 2014, Winchester began submitting applications for a residential loan and supporting documents to representatives of Hudson United, who, in turn, submitted these items to several lenders.  Winchester represented, in the applications, that the New City Home was the couple’s “present address.”  She further represented in the applications that the loan was to be used to purchase Monroe Condominium-2.  On the loan applications and an Affidavit of Occupancy signed by Winchester, she asserted that Monroe Condominium-2 would be their primary residence.

In or about late 2014, two lenders that had received Winchester’s loan application for Monroe Condominium-2 declined to approve the loan.  The first did so because Winchester had too much debt compared with her income.  The second did so after it reviewed documents the defendant submitted, upon the lender’s request, that were supposed to show that she intended to rent out her New City Home.  The documents she submitted included a phony lease agreement and copies of the $7,500 check and $1,500 check Tenant-1 had provided to her at the end of 2013 and in early 2014, at the time Winchester was planning to purchase Monroe Condominium-1.  The lender rejected these, noting that the dates of the checks and the lease did not make sense.

Thereafter, Hudson United submitted Winchester’s loan materials to a third lender, Plaza Home Mortgage (“Plaza”).  Plaza also requested information about Winchester’s representation that she and her husband intended to move to Monroe Condominium-2 and rent out the New City Home.  In response, on or about February 6, 2015, Winchester sent Hudson United a letter in which she stated that “in regard to our intent with the current primary residence, [New City Home], please be advised that we intend on renting the premises.”  She further represented that they “already have a prospective tenant who is anxiously awaiting to take occupancy of the residence.”

On or about February 27, 2015, Plaza informed Hudson United that it placed the loan in “suspend for decline status” because of insufficient income.  On or about March 20, 2015, based on Winchester’s representation, Hudson United informed Plaza that there would be rental income from the New City Home.  As a condition for closing on the loan, Plaza requested, among other things, a copy of a fully executed 12-month lease and a canceled check for a security deposit.

In response, on or about March 27, 2015, Winchester submitted to Hudson United, which then submitted to Plaza, the following items containing false statements: (1) a phony lease agreement providing that Tenant-1 was to going to pay $4,500 a month to lease the New City Home; and (2) a copy of two checks, made out to Winchester, each in the amount of $4,500, dated March 23, 2015, signed by Tenant-1, and drawn on Tenant-1’s bank account.  The checks each contained a false notation indicating it was for the security deposit or first month’s rent for the New City Home.  Unbeknownst to Hudson United and Plaza, Tenant-1 did not intend to rent the New City Home and Tenant-1 did not provide the money to pay for a security deposit or first month’s rent.  In fact, Winchester provided Tenant-1 with $9,000 to cover the two $4,500 checks Tenant-1 issued to Winchester.

On or about April 2, 2015, Winchester and Plaza closed on the loan and Plaza funded the purchase of Monroe Condominium-2.  Tenant-1 never moved to the New City Home and Winchester did not move to Monroe Condominium-2.

On or about July 28, 2016, members of an FBI task force conducting an investigation interviewed Winchester, at her office in New City, about the statements she made in connection with the loan she received from Plaza Home Mortgage.

Thereafter, the defendant met with Tenant-1, enlisted Tenant-1’s support in providing a false story to investigators, and had Tenant-1 initial fabricated “rent receipts” that indicated that Tenant-1 made a total of $9,000 in incremental cash payments to Winchester, between May 15, 2014, and January 16, 2015, as advance rent payments for the New City Home.

On or about August 1, 2016, task force members returned to Winchester’s New City office and interviewed her again.  During the interview, she gave them a number of documents designed to support her false account that Tenant-1 intended to rent the New City Home but decided, after the closing on Monroe Condominium-2 on April 2, 2015, not to move in.  The documents she provided to the task force members included, among other things, copies of the false and fabricated “rent receipts.”

Winchester pled guilty to both counts of an indictment before U.S. Magistrate Judge Judith C. McCarthy.  The first charged her with making false statements to a mortgage lending business, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a maximum fine of $1,000,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.  The second charged her with falsifying records in a federal investigation, with the intent to impede, obstruct, or influence the investigation or proper administration of any matter within the jurisdiction of a federal department or agency, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.  The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, made the announcement.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “As she admitted in court today, Lurlyn Winchester, in an attempt to fraudulently satisfy a residency requirement for a judgeship, lied and provided fake documents to secure a mortgage.  She then lied to FBI task force officers and provided them with fake documents in an attempt to cover up that crime.  Winchester’s lack of integrity and honesty did not merit a term on the bench.  Her crimes will likely earn her a term in prison.”

Winchester’s sentencing is scheduled for August 28, 2018, at 2:00 p.m.

Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI.  He also thanked the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office for their assistance.

The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s White Plains Division.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Margery B. Feinzig is in charge of the prosecution.

Michael Quiroz, Tucson, Arizona, was sentenced by U.S. Chief District Judge Raner C. Collins to 36 months in prison.  Quiroz was previously found guilty at trial of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

The evidence established that Quiroz, a loan officer and mortgage broker, was involved in a multi-year, multi-million dollar cash-back mortgage fraud conspiracy.  Quiroz and others recruited straw buyers to purchase residential properties at inflated prices and Quiroz also helped the straw buyers fraudulently obtain the loans needed to purchase the properties.  The methods used to obtain the loans included fake lease agreements, fake letters of employment, fake letters of credit, and false statements of intent to occupy a property as a primary residence.  Portions of the fraudulently-obtained mortgages were diverted to the bank accounts of Quiroz’s co-conspirators, who would thereafter send kickbacks to Quiroz.  Many of the properties purchased during the scheme eventually went into foreclosure, and the lenders’ losses relating to Quiroz’s conduct during the conspiracy totaled approximately $2.3 million.

The investigation in this case was conducted by the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation.  The prosecution was handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, Tucson.

 

Mahendra Prasad, 55, Fremont, California, was sentenced by to 15 months in prison and ordered to pay $328,000 in restitution for his role in a mortgage fraud scheme.

On May 22, 2017, Prasad pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud affecting a financial institution. Co-defendants Jyoteshna Karan, Praveen Singh, Sunita Singh and Nani Isaac are scheduled for a jury trial in U.S. District Court in Fresno, California, on Monday, December 11, 2017.

According to court documents, in 2006, Prasad caused loan application packages that contained false statements to be submitted to a mortgage lender in order to buy a property in Sacramento. The false statements included statements concerning Prasad’s employer, income, and purported intention to occupy the property as his primary residence. Following his fraudulent purchase, Prasad, with the assistance of others, rented the property as Section 8 housing and collected rents. Prasad did not reside in or occupy the property as his primary residence.

In 2013, Prasad applied to a bank to sell the property to another person at a loss to the bank. He falsely claimed to the bank that the “short” sale was an “arm’s length” transaction, and that neither he nor the buyer were related by commercial enterprise. Prasad’s conduct caused a loss to a financial institution of approximately $328,000.

Prasad was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill.  The sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert.  The case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office, the Federal Housing Finance Agency Office of Inspector General, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General, with assistance from the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Henry Z. Carbajal III and Christopher D. Baker are prosecuting the case.

 

 

Sergey Shchirskiy, 41, Sacramento, California, was sentenced to seven years and 10 months in prison for his participation in two mortgage fraud schemes and one tax fraud scheme.

According to court documents, Shchirskiy pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in each of the two mortgage fraud cases, as well as one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and one count of aggravated identity theft in the third tax fraud case.

According to the plea agreement, Shchirskiy was a loan processor in one mortgage fraud scheme (2:11-cr-514). Between April 2007 and November 2007, the co-conspirators used straw buyers to buy properties and then take out Home Equity Lines of Credit on the houses using fraudulent documents and statements. Shchirskiy helped to create the fraudulent supporting documents. All of the properties were foreclosed on, resulting in at least $1.5 million in losses to lenders.

According to the plea agreement in the second mortgage fraud scheme (2:12-cr-060), in April 2007, Shchirskiy recruited straw buyers to purchase a houses based on fraudulent loan applications. The applications gave false information about the buyer’s employment, income, assets, and intention to occupy the properties. The properties were foreclosed upon and resulted in a loss of more than $1.2 million to lenders.

According to the plea agreement in the tax fraud scheme (2:14-cr-198), between March 2011 and April 2011, Shchirskiy conspired with others to obtain false tax refunds by submitting fraudulent claims using the identities of various individuals, at least eight of which were stolen. Shchirskiy claimed Earned Income Tax Credit based on false claims of employment from California’s In-Home Supportive Services program. Shchirskiy and his co-conspirators made approximately 80 attempts to file fraudulent tax returns, attempting to receive $661,286 in fraudulent returns from the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS ultimately issued approximately $88,728 in fraudulent refunds.

U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced the sentenced and U.S. District Judge Troy L. Nunley presided.  The cases were the product of investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Heiko Coppola and Michele Beckwith prosecuted the cases.

Lurlyn A. Winchester, 58, New City, New York, a Justice for the Town Court of Monroe, was charged with making false statements in connection with an application for a loan to purchase a residence in Monroe, New York, which satisfied the residency requirement of her position as Town Justice. She was also charged with obstruction of justice for providing law enforcement officers, who questioned her about her mortgage loan, with false documents, including fabricated rent payment receipts. Winchester was arrested at her home in New City, New York, and was presented before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lisa Margaret Smith in White Plains federal court.

According to the allegations contained in the Complaint:

In or about 1997, Winchester  and her husband purchased a home in New City, New York (the “New City Home”), which they continue to own. On or about October 6, 2013, Winchester, an attorney practicing in New City, was nominated to be the democratic candidate for Town of Monroe Justice. At that time, she provided an address in Monroe, New York (“Monroe Residence-1”), as her residence, and on or about October 7, 2013, she registered to vote in Monroe, New York. Winchester was then elected Town of Monroe Justice on or about November 5, 2013.

On or about October 14, 2014, Hudson United Mortgage, LLC (“Hudson United”), a mortgage broker located in New City, New York, received a letter from Winchesterindicating that she had been elected Town Justice for the Town of Monroe and that she was relocating to Monroe in order to comply with a residency requirement attached to that position. In or about December 2014, the defendant and her husband submitted an application for a residential loan to Hudson United, and indicated that the loan was to be used to purchase a condominium located in Monroe, New York (“Monroe Residence-2”). On both the loan application and a disclosure notice, signed by the defendant and her husband, they asserted that Monroe Residence-2 would be their primary residence.

Winchester also represented to Hudson United that she and her husband were going to rent out their New City Home to a tenant. Specifically, on or about February 6, 2015, Hudson United received a letter from the defendant in which she identified the New City Home as her “current primary residence” and she stated that she and her husband intended to rent the New City Home and they “already had a prospective tenant” who was “anxiously awaiting to take occupancy of the residence.”

In or about March 2015, Winchester learned that the ultimate loan issuer, Plaza Home Mortgage Inc. (“Plaza”), was going to decline to issue the loan due to insufficient income. In response, Winchester again represented that she and her husband were going to rent out the New City Home and indicated they would have rental income of $4,500 a month. Plaza requested copies of a fully executed 12-month lease and a canceled check for a security deposit. Winchester provided a copy of a lease agreement, signed by the defendant, her husband, and a tenant (the “Tenant”). She also submitted a copy of two $4,500 checks for the security deposit and one month’s rent, made out to the defendant, and drawn on the Tenant’s bank account, as well as other documents reflecting that the checks were deposited into Winchester’s bank account. In or about April 2015, Plaza issued the loan.

Contrary to the defendant’s representations, Winchester did not intend to and did not lease the New City Home to Tenant in 2015; instead she fabricated a 2015 lease and caused checks to be issued and deposited to make it falsely appear that Tenant had paid rent and a security deposit. Tenant did not sign a lease in March 2015, never moved in to the New City Home, and Winchester provided the $9,000 that covered the two $4,500 checks purportedly provided by Tenant.

Further, Monroe Residence-2 was not intended to be, and has not been, the primary residence of the defendant and her husband. Interviews with neighbors, cellphone records, and credit card records indicate that Winchester did not move to Monroe. Finally, in a statement to agents, Winchester admitted that: she resided at the New City Home, she had informed Hudson United that she would be renting the New City Home, she submitted rental checks and other documents relating to renting the New City Home, and the Tenant never moved into the New City Home.

With respect to the obstruction charge, during an interview with members of the FBI Task Force relating to Winchester’s statements and submissions in connection with her loan, she provided them with, among other things, purported receipts for rent payments she claimed to have received from the Tenant for rent of the New City Home. The Tenant, however, indicated that he did not know anything about the receipts and never gave Winchester the cash payments supposedly memorialized in them.

Winchester was charged with one count of making false statements to a mortgage lending business, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, as well as falsifying records in a federal investigation, with the intent to impede, obstruct, or influence the investigation or proper administration of any matter within the jurisdiction of a federal department or agency, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced the Complaint.

Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said: “As alleged, Lurlyn Winchester, a municipal court judge for the Town of Monroe, lied and provided fake documents to secure a mortgage on a Monroe condominium in an attempt to falsely satisfy the judicial residency requirement. We should expect and demand integrity in our government. This Office is committed to pursuing corruption in all forms and in all three branches of government, including the judiciary. I thank our partners at the FBI for their work in exposing this fraud and holding accountable our public officials.”

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. stated: “As alleged, Lurlyn Winchester falsely represented her primary residence in order to fulfill requirements for her position as justice for the Town of Monroe. Winchester, who claimed she had relocated her primary residence from New City to Monroe, allegedly remained in her New City home, despite representations to the contrary. She allegedly provided false information to her mortgage company, claiming her New City property was being rented to a prospective tenant, and later lied to federal agents who interviewed her about her claims. If anyone should have respect for the rule of law, it should most certainly be those entrusted to uphold it. Many thanks to our partners in this investigation as we continue to reinforce our commitment to uncover illegal activity on behalf of public officials at every level.”

Mr. Kim praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI. He also thanked the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office for their assistance.

The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s White Plains Division. Assistant U.S. Attorney Margery B. Feinzig is in charge of the prosecution.

Sam Tuttle, a vice-president and loan officer at PC Bank Home Loans, Ben Leske, a loan officer at PC Bank Home Loans, Angela Crozier, a senior loan processor at PC Bank Home Loans, and Ed Rounds, a loan officer at PC Bank Home Loans, were indicted by a grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington at Tacoma and charged with conspiracy to make false statements on loan applications and to commit bank fraud and bank fraud, .

According to the indictment, from 2004 through 2008, Tuttle, Leske, Crozier and Rounds, along with Shawn Portmann, a vice-president and loan officer at PC Bank Home Loans, Craig Meyer, a vice-president and loan officer at PC Bank Home Loans, and Alice Barney, Portmann’s personal assistant, and other co-conspirators, knowingly made false statements and willfully overvalued property for the purpose of influencing the actions of Pierce Commercial Bank and other federally insured financial institutions, in connection with applications for mortgage loans.  PC Bank Home Loans was a mortgage lending office of Pierce Commercial Bank. During the time they were employed at PC Bank Home Loans, the alleged conspirators originated in excess of 5,000 mortgage loans representing in excess of $1 billion in loan proceeds. The loans detailed in the indictment are alleged to have contributed to the failure of Pierce Commercial Bank.

The indictment alleges that the conspirators solicited individuals, including through mass marketing, who were seeking to purchase homes.  They were solicited to prepare and submit mortgage loan applications regardless of whether they might qualify for the loans. The co-conspirators caused loan applications to be prepared based upon fraudulent representations related to gross monthly income, employment status, rental status, assets and liabilities and whether the property would be used as a primary residence.  Sometimes the false statements were made with the knowledge of the borrowers and in other cases, the borrowers did not know the false statements were being inserted. If the borrowers did not qualify, co-conspirators would, at times, seek the assistance of Portmann and other co-conspirators for advice on how to falsely modify the loan applications to ensure they passed underwriting.  Among the assistance provided by Portmann was the use of his assistant, Barney, to provide a Verification of Rent form for inclusion in the loan package, that falsely asserted the borrower was paying rent for an apartment owned by Portmann when, in fact, the borrower was not residing in, and had never resided in, the apartment.

The indictment further alleges that the co-conspirators would collude with third parties, including appraisers, to ensure the loans successfully closed.  The co-conspirators would pressure appraisers to generate specific values, even when told that the values were not supported by appraisal methods.

The indictment also alleges that when there were defaults on loans that were sold into the secondary market, the co-conspirators would take steps to ensure that Pierce Commercial Bank and the secondary investors did not discovery the underlying fraudulent statements.  The efforts included Portmann, Tuttle and Meyer forming a separate company to buy defaulted loans back from secondary investors so that no further investigation would be done on the defaulted loans.

According to the indictment, the fraudulent scheme caused in excess of $9.5 million in losses to Pierce Commercial Bank, secondary investors and HUD/FHA.

Ross D. Pickard, 63, Naples, Florida, was indicted and charged with one count of conspiracy and three counts of loan and credit application fraud.

According to the indictment, Pickard was a senior loan officer at JP Morgan Chase Bank. He conspired with others in a scheme to defraud the bank by completing, certifying, and submitting mortgage loan applications on behalf of borrowers that contained false and fraudulent statements. The false statements included, but were not limited to, false occupancy, overinflated income and assets, as well as the understated liabilities. By relying on Pickard’s false and fraudulent statements on the loan applications, JP Morgan Chase was induced into funding mortgage loans for otherwise unqualified borrowers.

If convicted, he faces up to 5 years in federal prison for the conspiracy count and up to 30 years on each of the fraud counts. The indictment also notifies him that the United States is seeking a money judgment for the proceeds of the charged criminal conduct.

United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announced the indictment.  The case was investigated by the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations Division. It will be prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor.

Orlando Ortiz, 53, Luis Enrique Tur, 47, Jeffrey Todd Canfield, 49, Rafael Amador, 34, Osvaldo Sanchez, 40, Mirna Pena, 54, and Pedro Reynaldo Allende, 66,all residents of Miami-Dade County, Florida, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud affecting a financial institution. Ortiz, Tur, Canfield, Amador, and Sanchez  are scheduled to be sentenced on January 19, 2017. Pena and Allende are scheduled to be sentenced on March 28, 2017.

The charges arise from the involvement of the defendants in a complex mortgage fraud scheme involving two condominium conversion projects in central Florida.

According to court documents, including the agreed upon factual statements:

In 2007 and 2008, Ortiz, Tur, Canfield, Amador, and Sanchez participated in a mortgage fraud scheme involving two condominium projects: “Portofino at Largo,” in Largo, Florida, and “Bayshore Landing,” in Tampa, Florida.  Pena and Allende were involved in the same mortgage fraud scheme; however, their involvement was limited to units in the Portofino at Largo project.

During the course of the conspiracy, Pena, Allende, and other individuals recruited straw buyers and unqualified buyers, including Ortiz, Tur, and Canfield, to purchase units in the two condominium projects.  Among other things, the recruiters told certain prospective buyers that: buyers did not have to contribute any money to purchase a unit; buyers would receive a cash-back incentive or “kick-back” after closing; and buyers would receive several months’ mortgage payments.

The co-conspirators prepared and submitted false and fraudulent mortgage loan applications and related documents to various lenders including Bank of America, BankUnited, Chase Bank USA, CitiMortgage, First National Bank of Arizona, IndyMac Bank, JPMorgan Chase Bank, and Washington Mutual Bank.  Among other things, the loan applications and related documents contained false and fraudulent statements and omissions regarding: the borrower’s intention to reside in the unit; the borrower’s employment and income; the borrower’s assets and liabilities; the borrower’s payment of an earnest money deposit and cash-to-close; and the use of mortgage loan proceeds to pay “marketing fees” to various “marketing companies.”  In truth and in fact, the marketing companies were fraudulent businesses that did not provide any marketing services.  Instead, the “fraudulently induced marketing fees” were a means of diverting proceeds from the fraud scheme to the marketing companies.  The fraudulent marketing companies would then use the fraud proceeds to pay undisclosed kick-backs to the buyers.

Pena and Allende operated two Miami-based businesses, which were used to perpetrate the mortgage fraud scheme: Mortgage Bankers Lenders, Inc., a mortgage broker business, which submitted false and fraudulent loan applications and related documents to the lenders; and United Title Services & Escrow, Inc., which closed mortgage loan transactions even though the buyers had not paid earnest money deposits or cash-to-close, and used loan proceeds to pay “marketing fees” to a marketing company operated by unindicted co-conspirators.

Ortiz, Canfield, and Tur purchased units in Portofino at Largo.  Tur also purchased units in Bayshore Landing.  Ortiz, Canfield, and Tur engaged a Miami-based mortgage broker business operated by an unindicted co-conspirator to prepare and submit mortgage loan applications for their units.  On their behalf, the co-conspirator prepared and submitted fraudulent loan applications and other documents to various lenders.  The fraudulent loan documents included fabricated W-2 Wage and Tax Statements and pay stubs.  After closing on their units, Ortiz, Canfield, and Tur received substantial undisclosed kick-backs from a marketing company operated by an unindicted co-conspirator.  The kick-backs were funded with fraud proceeds, which had been paid to the marketing company as “marketing fees.”

Amador and Sanchez operated Allegiance Title of America, Inc., which served as the closing agent for mortgage loans involving condominium units in Portofino at Largo and Bayshore Landing.  Among other things, Amador and Sanchez caused Allegiance Title of America to disburse loan proceeds even though the buyers had not paid the earnest money deposits or cash to close, that was required by their loan applications and settlement statements.  Amador and Sanchez also caused Allegiance Title of America to pay fraudulent “marketing fees” to marketing companies.

The defendants face a maximum statutory term of thirty years’ imprisonment for their participation in the mortgage fraud conspiracy.

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Timothy Mowery, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General (FHFA-OIG), George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and Juan J. Perez, Director, Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD), made the announcement.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FHFA-OIG, FBI and MDPD.  Both cases are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Dwayne E. Williams.

 

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.