Archives For refinance fraud

Brent Kaufman, 50, Commack, New York, a former unlicensed mortgage broker, pleaded guilty today to criminal information charging him with stealing $4.7 million in mortgage refinancing proceeds that were meant to pay off the existing mortgages of his clients.

According to court filings and facts presented during the plea proceeding, Kaufman worked as an unlicensed mortgage broker and often assisted clients in Queens and Long Island with refinancing their mortgages.  At the closing for a mortgage refinancing, the money from the new mortgage is supposed to be wired to the financial institution that holds the existing mortgage so that it can be paid off. Between 2016 and 2019, Kaufman, together with others, engaged in a scheme to defraud Home Point Financial Corporation, LLC and United Wholesale Mortgage and other mortgage lenders (the “Lenders”) by obtaining, and attempting to obtain, monies and funds from the Lenders by means of materially false representations.  Specifically, Kaufman provided incorrect wire routing information to the Lenders for the existing mortgages.  Instead of wiring the funds to the correct financial institution, the funds were instead transferred to bank accounts controlled by Kaufman.  As a result, the existing mortgages were not paid off, leaving the clients with two mortgages on their homes, and Kaufman stole the funds for his own personal use.

During the period of the charged conduct, Kaufman stole more than over $4.7 million, some of which he used to make mortgage payments on the existing mortgages or to eventually pay off those mortgages to avoid detection of his scheme.  When Kaufman stopped paying the existing mortgages, several of his clients’ homes were foreclosed on.  Victims of the scheme ultimately suffered a loss of approximately $2.5 million.

When sentenced, Kaufman faces up to 30 years in prison, as well as forfeiture and a fine of up to $1 million.

Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Michael J. Driscoll, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), Robert W. Manchak, Special Agent-in-Charge, Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General (FHFA-OIG), and Darnell D. Edwards, Acting Inspector-in-Charge, United States Postal Inspection Service, New York Division (USPIS), announced the guilty plea.

With today’s guilty plea, Kaufman admits to stealing millions of dollars in a brazen mortgage fraud scheme that defrauded numerous lenders and left his homeowner-clients in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Kasulis.  “This Office is committed to prosecuting defendants like Kaufman who are driven by greed to abuse the trust of innocent homeowners.” Ms. Kasulis expressed her grateful appreciation to the FBI, FHFA-OIG and the USPIS for their outstanding work and assistance in this investigation and prosecution.

Not only did Kaufman steal his victims’ money, but he also violated their trust, leaving them financially vulnerable and at risk of significant financial complications,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Driscoll.  “Collectively, his victims suffered millions of dollars in losses. Today’s guilty plea reminds us of the threat posed by those who prioritize their own financial interests above all else.”

Brent Kaufman betrayed the trust of unsuspecting homeowners by stealing millions of dollars in mortgage payoffs and failing to repay lenders.  As demonstrated by these charges, FHFA-OIG and its law enforcement partners will investigate and hold accountable those who seek to victimize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and misuse the lending process to unjustly enrich themselves,” stated FHFA-OIG Special Agent-in-Charge-Manchak.

“This is a classic case of greed overcoming honest business practices, as Mr. Kaufman took advantage of his access to clients funds to enrich his own lifestyle. His actions left many in financial ruin, holding two mortgages and facing the threat of foreclosure. Law enforcement will always work tirelessly to bring individuals to justice for their crimes against the American public,” stated USPIS Acting Inspector-in-Charge Edwards.

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jonathan Siegel and Laura Mantell.


David Fili, Jr., 48, Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, was sentenced today to one day in jail and five years of supervised release, with the first 18 months of supervised release to be served on home confinement in multi-million dollar fraud scheme.

Along with George Barnard, 47, Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, Fili owned Capital Financial Mortgage Corporation (“CFMC”), based in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Between 2005 and March 2013, Fili and Barnard issued refinance mortgage loans to customers of CFMC. Instead of using the money to pay off their customers’ outstanding first mortgages, however, they diverted $9,781,977 to themselves from bank accounts belonging to CFMC and several title companies owned by Barnard. Barnard was previously sentenced to five years in prison for his role in the scheme.

As part of his guilty plea, Fili admitted that he used much of the money he diverted to buy a vacation home and to support his gambling habit (while Barnard used the money he diverted to buy multi-million dollar beach homes in Avalon, New Jersey, several yachts, and to pay the salary of a yacht captain). At the time that the scheme fell apart in March 2013, Fili and Barnard left over two dozen CFMC customers stuck with two mortgages on their homes because CFMC had failed to pay off their customers’ existing first mortgages.

Fili was ordered to forfeit $1,969,312.02, and is jointly and severally liable to pay $9,567,074.56 in restitution.  Fili previously entered a guilty plea to ten counts of wire fraud and two counts of bank fraud.

U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain made the announcement.

For many years, Fili defrauded honest, hard-working individuals out of their money so that he could gamble it away and relax in his illegally-obtained vacation home, “ said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “The defendant’s vacation ends now. We are thankful that the Court ordered him to pay millions of dollars as a result of his crimes.”

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael S. Lowe.


Mark Andreotti, 47, Wyckoff, New Jersey, a former settlement agent, was sentenced today to 144 months in prison for defrauding banks out of $1.1 million using phony loan applications for properties in Bergen and Morris Counties, New Jersey, and for failing to pay over $450,000 in personal income taxes.

Andreotti was previously convicted on all six counts of an indictment charging him with bank fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, tax evasion, and failure to file tax returns..

According to documents filed in this case and the evidence at trial:

In January 2010, Andreotti submitted a loan application to a bank requesting $625,000 to refinance the mortgage on his house in Wyckoff, New Jersey. Andreotti, who owned and operated Metropolitan Title and Abstract (Metropolitan), used Metropolitan as the settlement agent on the transaction. After the bank transferred the $625,000 for the refinance to Metropolitan’s escrow account, Andreotti spent the money on personal expenses instead of paying off the first mortgage on the house.

In April 2011, Andreotti conspired with another individual who worked as a real estate attorney to obtain $480,000 by claiming that the money would be used to refinance the mortgage on the attorney’s house in Montville, New Jersey. After the bank transferred the money for the refinance to Metropolitan’s escrow account, Andreotti kept $110,000 for himself before transferring the remaining funds to the other conspirator.

In 2010, the IRS initiated collection actions against Andreotti for unpaid personal income taxes. Despite numerous liens and levies and having five rental income properties in addition to his primary residence, Andreotti continued to evade his taxes. He also failed to file tax returns for the tax years 2010 and 2011.

Andreotti was convicted following a two-week trial before U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton, who imposed the sentence in Newark federal court.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Wigenton sentenced Andreotti to five years of supervised release and ordered him to pay restitution of over $2.1 million.

U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito made the announcement.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Steven Perez in Newark; special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher in Newark; special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen in Newark; and special agents with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, with the investigation.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Shana Chen in of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Charlie Divine of the Federal Housing and Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General.

Defense counsel: Marc Neff, Esq., of Marlton

David Harris Lavine, 58, Rockville, Maryland, was indicted by a grand jury on charges of theft of bank funds by a bank officer and bank fraud and Lavine and Charles L. Tobias, 56, Potomac, Maryland were indicted for conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service and tax evasion.

From March 2010 until January 2011, Lavine was the Acting President of CFG Community Bank.  From January 2011 until August 2011, Lavine was president of the bank affiliate, Capital Financial Ventures, LLC. According to the indictment, Lavine, while acting President, diverted $100,000 of bank funds to his own benefit.  The indictment also charges that while president of the bank affiliate, Lavine devised a scheme to defraud CFG Community Bank, a state member bank supervised by the Federal Reserve Board, through the re-finance of bank-owned mortgage loans and the diversion of loan proceeds to his personal benefit and the benefit of a friend.

According to court documents, Lavine used his position at Capital Financial Ventures to pose as the CEO/President of CFG Community Bank. For example, Lavine invited the borrowers of two loans with balances totaling over $7.5 million, to refinance those loans with other financial institutions for a lower mortgage and pay off CFG Community Bank.  At Lavine’s direction, the settlement company sent the mortgage loan payoff not to CFG Community Bank but to another company so that Lavine could divert in excess of $775,000.   Lavine created false correspondence with the loan borrowers to provide to CFG Community Bank to conceal the diversion from CFG Community Bank.

According to the indictment, Lavine and Tobias owned Capital T Partners Brookfield, LLC, a Maryland limited liability corporation. In the fall 2011, Lavine and Tobias decided to realize a profit from a group of non-performing mortgages by fraudulently “donating” some of the mortgages to a charity as an in-kind donation and thereby receiving a valuable tax deduction for Capital T Partners Brookfield which would pass through to their personal income tax returns.  Lavine is also charged with tax evasion for two years for failing to report the monies he received through the bank offenses and using the fraudulent charitable contribution as a deduction.  Tobias is charged with tax evasion for failing to report income and also using the fraudulent charitable deduction.

The maximum possible penalties for the bank offenses are thirty years in prison and/or a $1 million fine per count and 5 years in prison and /or $250,000 per count for the tax charges.

The indictment was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Stephen M. Schenning; Special Agent in Charge Gordon B. Johnson of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; Special Agent in Charge Kimberly Lappin of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation; Assistant Inspector General Gerald Maye of the Federal Reserve Board Office of Inspector General and Special Agent in Charge Michael McGill of the Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General.

Acting United States Attorney Stephen M. Schenning commended the IRS, FBI, the Office of Inspector General for the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and SSA-IG for their work in the investigation.  Mr. Schenning thanked Assistant United States Attorney Joyce K. McDonald who is prosecuting the case.