Archives For Straw Buyer

Surjit Singh, 72, Dublin, California, Rajeshwar Singh, 44, Pleasanton, California and Anita Sharma, 56, Gilroy, California were sentenced today for crimes relating to their involvement in a mortgage fraud scheme.

According to court documents, in 2006 and 2007, Surjit Singh recruited individuals with good credit to act as straw buyers for residential properties owned by his family members and associates. Rajeshwar Singh, a licensed real estate agent, assisted in the scheme by submitting loan applications for the straw buyers. Anita Sharma, a dental assistant at the time, was one of the straw buyers. Because Sharma and the other straw buyers could not afford the homes based on their true incomes, the Singhs submitted fraudulent loan applications and supporting material to lending institutions that included false statements about the straw buyers’ income, employment, liabilities, and intent to occupy the homes as their primary residences.

At least 14 properties were involved in the scheme. Anita Sharma alone purchased five homes in San Jose, San Ramon, Elk Grove, Sacramento, and Modesto, California. Other straw buyers purchased or refinanced properties in Stockton, Modesto, Patterson, Lathrop and Tracy, California. All of these homes were ultimately either foreclosed upon or sold in a short sale where the bank lets homeowners sell their homes for less than is owed on the mortgage.

Sharma was paid for her involvement in the scheme. Rajeshwar Singh received financial benefits through broker commissions for the transactions and as the seller of seven of the properties. He also continued to occupy the San Ramon property at a time when Anita Sharma should have been living there. Surjit Singh benefitted through payments out of escrow directed to shell companies, such as SJR Investments and BK Investments, which were associated with his daughter and significant other, whose initials are SJR and BK respectively. These payments were purportedly for contracting services, which did not occur. He also benefitted through rental payments made to him and his significant other by the renters of the homes, as the straw buyers were not living in the homes. In addition, many of his family members received money by selling properties and had money directed to them out of escrow. According to court documents and evidence produced at trial, the defendants were responsible for the origination of more than $9.3 million in fraudulently procured residential mortgage loans.

Surjit Singh was sentenced to 11 years and three months in prison, his son, Rajeshwar Singh was sentenced to 11 years and three months in prison on four counts of mail fraud, four counts of bank fraud, and four counts of false statements on loan and credit applications. Anita Sharma, was sentenced to three years and 10 months in prison on two counts of mail fraud, two counts of bank fraud, and two counts of false statements on loan and credit applications. Surjit Singh was ordered to pay a $2 million fine, $698,787 in restitution, and $847,000 in forfeiture. Raj Singh was ordered to pay a $1 million fine, $928,287 in restitution, and $838,399 in forfeiture. Anita Sharma was ordered to pay $603,180 in restitution and $30,000 in forfeiture.

Surjit Singh is in custody.  Rajeshwar Singh and Anita Sharma are scheduled to self‑surrender on January 9, 2019.

U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott made the announcement.

This case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lee S. Bickley, Kelli L. Taylor, and Kevin Khasigian prosecuted the case.

Joseph Bates III, 38, Wakefield, Massachusetts pleaded guilty today in connection with a decade-long mortgage fraud scheme involving at least two dozen fraudulent loan transactions and $4.3 million in losses to lenders.

According to the charging documents, from 2006 through 2015, 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,Massachusetts . The properties were usually multi-family buildings with two-to-four units, which the co-conspirators then converted into condominiums. The co-conspirators recruited other borrowers to purchase the individual condominium units, which were also financed by fraudulent mortgage loans. http://www.mortgagefraudblog.com/?s=Joseph+Bates+III

Bates was charged with one count of conspiracy, three counts of wire fraud affecting a financial institution, and two counts of bank fraud. A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled. One of Bates’ alleged co-conspirators, George Kritopoulos, 46, Salem, Massachusetts was indicted on related charges in September 2018, and another participant, David Plunkett, 52, Lynn, Massachusetts was charged by Information.

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 used to advance the fraudulent scheme. The employment information 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.  Furthermore, the income asserted on the borrowers’ loan applications substantially overstated 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. Plunkett allegedly assisted the scheme by preparing tax returns for some of the borrowers 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 many instances, they defaulted on their loan payments, resulting in foreclosures and losses to the financial institutions of more than $4.3 million.

The charges of bank fraud and wire fraud affecting a financial institution each provide for sentences of no greater than 30 years in prison, five years of supervised release, and a fine of $1 million. The charge of conspiracy provides for a sentence of no greater than five years in prison, three years of supervised release, and 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 other statutory factors.

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; 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 Mark J. Balthazard and Sara Miron Bloom of Lelling’s Securities and Financial Fraud Unit are prosecuting the case.

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

 

Victor Santos, a/k/a “Vitor Santos,” 58, Wachtung, New Jersey; Arsenio Santos, a/k/a “Gaspar Santos,” 51, Warren, New Jersey; and Fausto Simoes, 65, Millington, New Jersey were arraigned today on multiple charges in connection with their alleged roles in a mortgage fraud scheme.

The three were charged on Sept. 24, 2018, in a 19-count indictment. They were each charged with one count of conspiring to commit bank fraud. Victor Santos was charged with nine counts of bank fraud and nine counts of making false statements in an application for credit. Arsenio Santos was charged with four counts of bank fraud and four counts of making false statements in an application for credit. Simoes was charged with seven counts of bank fraud and seven counts of making false statements in an application for credit.

According to documents filed in this case:

From September 2007 through November 2008, Victor Santos, a real estate investor; Arsenio Santos, a builder; and Simoes, a real estate settlement attorney, and others allegedly conspired to fraudulently obtain mortgage loans with a total value of more than $4 million.

Victor Santos, Arsenio Santos, and their conspirators allegedly recruited “straw buyers”, individuals who purchase a property for another in order to conceal the identity of the actual purchaser, usually in exchange for a fee, to purchase properties in Newark, New Jersey.

In exchange for the use of the straw buyers’ identity and credit history, Victor Santos, Arsenio Santos, and others allegedly agreed to pay each of the straw buyers a fee of at least $5,000, provide the straw buyer’s down payment and cash required for closing, secure tenants to lease the purchased property, and make the mortgage payments on each of the fraudulently obtained mortgages. These secret agreements were not disclosed to the bank. Shortly after the properties were acquired the mortgages went into default.

For the three representative schemes highlighted in the indictment, Victor Santos, Arsenio Santos, and their conspirators prepared and submitted mortgage applications containing false information to the bank and obtained loans totaling more than $1.3 million. The conspirators allegedly arranged transactions for the Newark properties whereby the straw buyers would nominally purchase the properties for far more than the sellers had agreed to sell them, and the conspirators diverted excess loan proceeds for their own benefit and to further the conspiracy.

Simoes was the closing attorney on approximately 10 of the fraudulent transactions and signed and certified the final settlement statements. These statements falsely stated that the cash required for closing for each transaction came from the straw buyer. In fact, Victor Santos and his conspirators provided those funds to Simoes and the funds were deposited into Simoes’ attorney trust account. For certain transactions, a shell company – whose bank account was controlled by Victor Santos and a conspirator – and to which funds from fraudulently obtained mortgage loans were disbursed – was the source of the cashier’s checks given to Simoes to fund the straw buyer’s cash required at closing. For other transactions, down payments came from an account owned and controlled by Arsenio Santos or from the proceeds of a previously obtained fraudulent loan.

The conspiracy to commit bank fraud count, the bank fraud counts, and the false statement counts, each carry a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison, a fine of $1 million or twice the gross gain to the defendants or twice the gross loss to others whichever is greater.

The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Robert Manchak, and special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie of the Newark office, with the investigation leading to the charges.

The government is represented by Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys Charlie Divine and Kevin DiGregory of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Economic Crimes Unit in Newark and the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General.

George Kritopoulos, 46, Salem, Massachusetts, a real estate developer, Joseph Bates III, 38, Lynnfield, Massachusetts and David Plunkett, 52, Lynn, Massachusetts were charged today in connection with a 10-year mortgage fraud scheme involving at least two dozen fraudulent loan transactions and $4.3 million in losses to lenders.

According to the charging documents, 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, Massachusetts. The properties were usually multi-family buildings with two-to-four units, which the co-conspirators then converted into condominiums. The co-conspirators recruited other 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 used to advance the fraudulent scheme. The employment information 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.  Furthermore, the income asserted on the borrowers’ loan applications substantially overstated 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. Plunkett assisted the scheme by preparing tax returns for some of the borrowers 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 many instances, they defaulted on their loan payments, resulting in foreclosures and losses to the financial institutions of more than $4.3 million.

In addition, Kritopoulos sought to obstruct the federal criminal investigation into the mortgage fraud scheme by encouraging others to make false statements and provide false documents. Kritopoulos also made false statements to federal investigators.

Kritopoulos was charged with 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. Bates was charged with one count of conspiracy, three counts of wire fraud, and two counts of bank fraud. Plunkett was also charged with one count of bank fraud and one count of aiding in the preparation of a false tax return.

The charges of bank fraud and wire fraud each provide for sentences of no greater than 30 years in prison and five years of supervised release. The charge of obstruction of justice provides for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison and five years of supervised release. The charge of conspiracy provides for a sentence of no greater than 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 no greater than 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 other statutory factors.

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; 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 Mark J. Balthazard and Sara Miron Bloom of Lelling’s Economic Crimes Unit 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.

Momoud Aref Abaji, 37, Huntington Beach, California was sentenced to federal prison for his leadership role in a “builder bailout” mortgage fraud scheme.

The scheme Abaji operated resulted in the fraudulent purchase of more than 100 condominium units around the country, causing more than $10 million in losses when the properties went into foreclosure.

Abaji, along with several co-conspirators, operated the scheme through Excel Investments and related companies based in Santa Ana and Irvine, California. The scheme involved kickbacks from condominium builders during the 2008 financial crisis, that Abaji and his co-conspirators hid from lenders to convince them to fund loans in excess of the actual purchase price. http://www.mortgagefraudblog.com/?s=Maher+Obagi

During the course of the scheme, co-conspirators identified condominium developments around the country where the builders were struggling to sell units and arranged to purchase multiple units at a discount. The builders benefited by making it appear that their condos were selling and maintaining their value, while members of the conspiracy obtained the kickbacks.

The co-conspirators negotiated with condominium builders in California, Florida and Arizona for discount units. The defendants bought units for themselves, their relatives, and on behalf of “straw buyers” whom they brought into the scheme. They identified straw buyers by looking for individuals with good credit scores and then recruited them into the scheme by giving them an upfront payment for their participation and by presenting the scheme as an investment opportunity that required no down payment and would generate income through rental payments.

To obtain mortgages for the properties, Abaji and other co-conspirators prepared loan applications with false information about the straw buyers – including fake employment, income and assets, as well as fabricated W2s, pay stubs and bank statements. The mortgage applications also included false information about the terms of the transactions, such as concealing the large kickbacks from builders through false and misleading HUD-1 forms. As a result of the false statements in the fraudulent loan applications, mortgage lenders provided over $21 million in financing to purchase more than 100 properties.

Many of these loans went into default, and mortgage lenders lost more than $10 million after foreclosing on the properties. The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) and the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) purchased dozens of these loans on the secondary mortgage market and suffered losses of at least $1.3 million as a result of defaults and foreclosures on the properties.

Abaji was sentenced to 108 months in prison by United States District Judge Andrew Guilford and ordered to pay more than $10 million in restitution to the financial institutions that were victims of the fraud.

Several other defendants were charged in connection with the same scheme.

  • Abaji’s brother, Maher Obagi, 32, Huntington Beach, California who was sentenced in June 2018 to 78 months in prison and ordered to pay just over $10 million in restitution.
  • Mohamed Salah, 43, Mission Viejo, California who was sentenced in June 2018 to 57 months in prison and ordered to pay just over $7 million in restitution.
  • Ali Khatib, 53, Newport Coast, California pleaded guilty in a related case and is scheduled to be sentenced on September 10th;
  • Jacqueline Burchell, 57, Orange, California pleaded guilty in June 2013 and is scheduled to be sentenced on October 1st;
  • Wajieh Tbakhi, 53, who is currently a fugitive; and
  • Mohamed El Tahir, now deceased.

This matter was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of the Inspector General; and IRS Criminal Investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kerry L. Quinn of the Major Frauds Section.

Dan Heine and Diana Yates, former executives at the Bank of Oswego in Lake Oswego, Oregon, were sentenced today to one count each of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and twelve counts each of falsifying bank entries, reports, and transactions

Dan Heine, a co-founder of the bank, was president, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and member of the board of directors from September 2004 through September 2014. Diana Yates was executive vice president, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), and secretary of the board of directors from 2004 through March 2012. During the conspiracy Heine and Yates concealed the true financial condition of the bank to regulators and the board of directors by falsely reporting that the bank had title to a property in a straw buyer transaction, falsely reporting that delinquent loans were paid, and falsely reporting the sale of bank owned property. http://www.mortgagefraudblog.com/oregon-bank-officers-indicted/#more-22161

Heine and Yates were sentenced to 24 and 18 months in prison, respectively.

Dan Heine and Diane Yates orchestrated one of the largest and most complex bank fraud schemes in Oregon’s history. Their selfish acts of greed are deplorable,” said Billy J. Williams, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon. “While we urged the court to impose longer sentences, these sentences still serve as a warning to bank executives and others entrusted with fiduciary responsibilities. We will continue to work with federal investigators to protect investors and ensure the trustworthiness of our financial institutions.”

For centuries, the American banking system has served as the bedrock of the U.S. economy. Honest bankers are critical to our financial system. By addressing lies and conspiracies at the Bank of Oswego, the FBI and Department of Justice have helped re-establish the integrity of the financial system we all rely on,” said Renn Cannon, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon

A forfeiture and restitution hearing has been scheduled for August 7, 2018. The case was investigated by the FBI and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General (FDIC-OIG) and prosecuted by Claire Fay, Quinn Harrington, and Michelle Kerin, Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the District of Oregon.

 

Maher Obagi, 32, Huntington Beach, California was sentenced on Tuesday to 78 months in prison and ordered to pay just over $10 million in restitution.  A second defendant, Mohamed Salah, 43, Mission Viejo, California was sentenced to 57 months in prison and was ordered to pay just over $7 million in restitution.    Obagi and Salah were sentenced to federal prison for participating in a “builder bailout” mortgage fraud scheme that resulted in the fraudulent purchase of more than 100 condominium units around the country, causing more than $10 million in losses when the properties went into foreclosure.

Obagi and Salah, along with several co-conspirators http://www.mortgagefraudblog.com/?s=Maher+Obagi , operated the scheme through Excel Investments and related companies that were based in Santa Ana and then Irvine, California. The scheme involved kickbacks from condominium builders during the 2008 financial crisis, kickbacks that were hidden from lenders to convince them to fund loans in excess of actual purchase price.

During the course of the scheme, co-conspirators identified condominium developments around the country in which the builders were struggling to sell units and then arranged with the builders to purchase multiple units at a discount. The builders benefited by making it appear that their condos were selling and maintaining their value, while members of the conspiracy obtained the kickbacks.

The co-conspirators negotiated with condominium builders in California, Florida and Arizona for discount units. The defendants bought units for themselves, their relatives, and on behalf of “straw buyers” whom they brought into the scheme. They identified straw buyers by looking for individuals with good credit scores and then recruited them into the scheme by giving them an upfront payment for their participation and by presenting the scheme as an investment opportunity that required no down payment and would generate income through rental payments.

To obtain mortgages for the properties, Obagi and other co-conspirators prepared loan applications with false information about the straw buyers – including fake employment, income and assets, as well as fabricated W2s, pay stubs and bank statements. The mortgage applications also included false information about the terms of the transactions, such as concealing the large kickbacks from lenders through false and misleading HUD-1 forms. As a result of the false statements in the fraudulent loan applications, mortgage lenders provided over $21 million in financing to purchase more than 100 properties.

Many of these loans went into default, and mortgage lenders lost more than $10 million after foreclosing on the properties. The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) and the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) purchased dozens of these loans on the secondary mortgage market and suffered losses of at least $1.3 million as a result of defaults and foreclosures on the properties.

Both defendants were sentenced by United States District Judge Andrew Guilford.

Following a trial in 2015, Obagi was found guilty of one count of conspiracy and three counts of wire fraud. Salah was found guilty by the same federal jury of one count of conspiracy.

Several other defendants were charged in connection with the same scheme. They are:

  • Ali Khatib, 53, Newport Coast, California who pleaded guilty in a related case and is scheduled to be sentenced on July 16;
  • Momoud Aref Abaji, 37, Huntington Beach, California who was convicted at trial and is scheduled to be sentenced on June 14;
  • Jacqueline Burchell, 57, Orange, California who pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced on July 16;
  • Wajieh Tbakhi, 53, who is a fugitive; and
  • Mohamed El Tahir, who is now deceased.

This matter was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of the Inspector General; and IRS Criminal Investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kerry L. Quinn of the Major Frauds Section.

Robert Levie Norris, Jr., 50, New Bern, North Carolina was sentenced today to 48 months in prison for conspiracy to commit bank fraud and obstruction of a federal bank examination.

According to court records, statements made in court, and other public information, Norris was the first President and Chief Executive Officer of Coastal Bank and Trust (CB&T), which opened its doors to customers in 2009.  Norris served in this capacity from April 2009 to June 2013.  As CB&T’s highest ranking executive, Norris was entrusted to oversee all aspects of CB&T’s business and to ensure that CB&T operated in accordance with applicable federal and state laws, rules, and regulations.  In June 2013, it was discovered that Norris had engaged in a scheme to defraud CB&T by engineering fraudulent loan transactions with straw borrowers where the true beneficiaries of the loans were co-conspirators of Norris, business entities controlled by Norris, or Norris himself.  The offending loans included unsecured lines of credit, small business loans, and mortgages for commercial and residential properties.  Norris used his position of trust and authority at CB&T to circumvent the bank’s internal controls and normal loan underwriting procedures.  To conceal his scheme, Norris withheld relevant information about the fraudulent loans from CB&T’s board of directors and examiners from the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.  CB&T suffered losses of approximately $2.4 million as a result of Norris’ conduct.

The Court ordered the term of imprisonment to be followed by 3 years of supervised release.  Norris was also ordered to pay $2,397,475 in restitution. Norris was named in a Criminal Information on April 18, 2017 alleging the above offenses.  Norris pled guilty to the charges on May 17, 2017.

The United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Robert J. Higdon, Jr., made the announcement.

When a bank official uses their position for their own personal profit they do more than commit a federal crime, they abuse their power and violate the public’s trust. Mr. Norris’ sentence today is proof of the commitment of the FBI to work with other law enforcement agencies to find these offenders and hold them accountable,” said John Strong, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in North Carolina.

United States Attorney Robert J. Higdon, Jr. said, “Mr. Norris used his position of trust to unlawfully line his pockets with money to which he was not entitled. The USAO-EDNC will always work with federal, state, and local law enforcement to vigorously investigate and prosecute this type of criminal conduct. Mr. Norris’ sentence sends a strong message that this type of conduct will not be tolerated and will be punished accordingly.”

Mr. Norris’ fraud scheme and deception of bank examiners is the type of criminal conduct that impedes federal regulators from effectively supervising banking institutions,” said Mark Bialek, Inspector General of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection. “Today’s sentencing is one more step in a joint effort with our federal partners to hold accountable those who undermine the integrity of those institutions.”

This sentencing holds the defendant accountable for misusing his position as the bank President and CEO to fabricate fraudulent loans with straw borrowers, evade internal controls, and withhold information from the bank’s Board.  The underlying conspiracy cost the bank millions of dollars.  This case demonstrates the importance of cooperation among law enforcement partners to combat such criminal conduct and maintain the integrity of financial institutions,” said FDIC Inspector General Jay N. Lerner.

Investigation of this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System – Office of Inspector General, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation – Office of Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorney Adam Hulbig prosecuted the case for the government.

Joseph DiValli, Jackson, New Jersey, was sentenced today to 18 months in prison for his role in a large-scale mortgage fraud scheme that used phony documents and straw buyers to acquire more than $6 million in loans.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court: http://www.mortgagefraudblog.com/?s=Joseph+DiValli+

From March 2011 through November 2012, DiValli and other conspirators agreed to fraudulently obtain mortgage loans for properties located in North Jersey, New Jersey. After recruiting “straw buyers” to purchase the properties, DiValli and others submitted false and fraudulent loan applications and supporting documents so the straw buyers could qualify for the loans. DiValli and others also used another conspirator, who worked at a bank, to create misleading certifications showing certain bank accounts held more money than they actually had. DiValli and other conspirators also submitted false appraisal reports, backdated deeds and used unlicensed title agents to close transactions and disburse the mortgage proceeds.

As a loan officer for a North Jersey mortgage lender, DiValli facilitated some of these fraudulent transactions, including a $244,855.26 mortgage on a property located on Smith Street, Elizabeth, New Jersey. Overall, the scheme induced lenders to issue more than $6 million in loans, resulting in several defaults and exposing lenders and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to more than $2 million in potential losses.

DiValli also admitted using a separate scheme to modify the mortgage on his personal residence. From March 2011 through June 2012, Divalli used false payroll ledgers and earnings statements to deceive a loan officer into believing that his net earnings were lower than his actual income level.

DiValli also admitted receiving income of more than $450,000 in 2012. In order to avoid taxes of $79,000, DiValli failed to file taxes for 2012 and cashed his paychecks at a check-cashing facility to conceal his income.

DiValli previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton to a superseding information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of wire fraud and one count of tax evasion. Judge Wigenton imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Wigenton sentenced DiValli to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution of $2,322,045.

U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito made the announcement and credited law enforcement agents of the FBI Newark Mortgage Fraud Task Force, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie; postal inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Acting Inspector in Charge Ruth M. Mendonca; special agents of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Christina Scaringi; special agents of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Steven Perez; special agents of the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP), under the direction of Special Inspector General Christy Goldsmith Romero; special agents of IRS–Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Bryant Jackson; and the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Esther Suarez, for the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lakshmi Srinivasan Herman of the National Security Unit, Andrew Kogan of the Cyber Unit, and Senior Litigation Counsel Barbara Ward of the Asset Recovery and Money Laundering Unit.

Defense counsel: Michael A. Koribanics Esq. Clifton, New Jersey.

Kirk Lawrence Brannan, 64, Texas has entered a guilty plea to bank fraud for his role in a mortgage fraud scheme.  Brannan admitted to conspiring with others from 2005 to 2009 to execute a scheme to defraud Wells Fargo Bank and other lenders.

Brannan sold 10 beach homes in the Freeport/Surfside, Texas area to “straw buyers” at exorbitant prices. Other co-conspirators recruited straw buyers who created loan applications with misrepresentations that lenders relied upon in deciding to make the mortgage loans. The applications contained misrepresentations of the buyer’s address, employer, income and expenses. The applications also suggested the buyers were much better credit risks than they actually were. Brannan admitted he paid kickbacks to co-conspirators each time one of the beach homes was sold to a straw buyer.

The beach properties were sold at two to three times the appraised values. The mortgage lenders, including Wells Fargo Bank, were induced to lend the inflated amounts for the purchases through flawed or fraudulent appraisals which were based on comparisons Brannan manufactured to further the scheme.

Brannan created settlement statements that suggested he sold three of his properties to his children at exorbitant prices. Appraisers relied upon these “sales” as comparable sales in appraising Brannan’s remaining properties sold to straw buyers. As a result of the fraudulent appraisals, he and his co-conspirators were able to inflate the values for his properties and deceive the lenders into approving home loans at those exorbitant amounts.

All of the straw buyers defaulted on the mortgages, and all 10 of the beach properties ended up in foreclosure.

The fraudulent mortgage loan scheme resulted in a loss of $5,317,350 to Wells Fargo Bank and the other lenders. Brannan paid $2,401,368 to his co-conspirators as part of the scheme.

U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal accepted the plea and set sentencing for Aug. 29, 2018, at which time Brannan faces up to 30 years in federal prison and a possible $1 million maximum fine. He was permitted to remain on bond pending that hearing.

Co-conspirators Chucoboie Lanier, 41, Houston, Texas, David Lee Morris, 55, Houston, Texas, and Derwin Jerome Blackshear, 50, Houston, Texas, previously pleaded guilty for their roles in the scheme. They are set for sentencing Sept. 26, 2018.

U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick made the announcement.

The Texas Department of Public Safety and the FBI conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert Johnson and Michael Day are prosecuting the case.