Archives For Title Fraud

Aderibigbe Ogundiran, 36,  Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York has been sentenced today to two to six years in prison for stealing a 19th century mansion in Fort Greene, New York as well as stealing or attempting to steal five other properties in a brazen scheme in which he transferred title of other people’s properties to himself.

According to the investigation, between February 2015 and December 2016, the defendant engaged in a scheme to steal title to or the economic benefit from six residential properties in Brooklyn, New York, targeting properties whose title holders were deceased or properties that no one seemed to be taking care of.

The defendant took advantage of the apparent inattention to the properties by filing fraudulent deeds or other instruments against the properties in an effort to gain control of them. In fact, he gained control or attempted to gain control of them in a variety of ways that included using aliases, corporate alter-egos, impostors, forged driver’s licenses, misuse of personal identifying information, and forged notarizations.

The defendant targeted the following properties:

  • 176 Washington Park, Fort Greene, New York: This property is a landmarked 19th century five-story, 10-bedroom mansion located on a double-lot directly across from Fort Greene Park and is part of the Fort Greene Historic District. On March 8, 2015, Ogundiran used a Notary Public to notarize and file a deed transferring ownership from the actual owner of the property, a deceased man whose elderly sister lived in the house, to GCU Group, Inc., a corporation controlled by Ogundiran, using an impostor to pose as the deceased owner. The deed was filed with the New York City Department of Finance, Office of the City Register, which recorded the deed on June 26, 2015, transferring ownership to the corporation controlled by Ogundiran.
  • 123 Albany Avenue, Crown Heights, New York: This property is a three-story brownstone. On March 13, 2015, the defendant once again hired a Notary Public to notarize signatures and file with the City Register, a deed purporting to transfer title of 123 Albany Avenue from the rightful owner to himself, once again using an impostor to pose as the rightful owner. The identity assumed by the impostor was that of a person who in fact had died in 2011. The fraudulent deed was recorded by the City Register on March 30, 2015.
  • 42 Albany Avenue, Bedford-Stuyvesant, New York: This property was purchased in 2004 by an individual who died in 2010. On November 19, 2015, the City Register recorded a Power of Attorney against this property granting the defendant the right to engage in real estate transactions and other powers on behalf of the property. The deceased owner purportedly signed the Power of Attorney on June 15, 2015. On November 18, 2016, the defendant filed a deed purportedly signed by the deceased owner on July 30, 2015 conveying title to the property to Ogundiran for $500.
  • 1024 Hendrix Street, East New York: This property was purchased in 1997 by an individual who died in 2007. On October 6, 2015, the deceased owner purportedly executed a power of attorney benefitting 1024 Hendrix LLC, a corporation controlled by the defendant. On October 9, 2015, the City Register recorded a Power of Attorney against the property.
  • 1424 Fulton Street, Bedford-Stuyvesant, New York: This property, a three-story residential building with commercial space on the ground floor, was purchased by three individuals in 2013. On November 9, 2016, Ogundiran filed a Power of Attorney with the City Register which was purportedly from one of the actual owners to a corporation incorporated and controlled by the defendant. The Power of Attorney contained the forged signatures of another of the owners and a Notary Public.
  • 49 Albany Avenue, Bedford-Stuyvesant, New York: This property, a two-story house, was owned by an individual who died in 2007, leaving an only child who resided outside of the United States. On November 9, 2016, the defendant filed a forged Power of Attorney against 49 Albany Avenue. The Power of Attorney granted rights to a corporation controlled by the defendant and was purportedly signed by the deceased owner and a Notary Public.

The investigation began after the resident of 176 Washington Park, Fort Greene, New York received notice that she would have to vacate the premises. She notified her attorney, who then filed a complaint with the New York City Department of Finance.

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez made the announcement.

District Attorney Gonzalez said that in at least one instance, involving 42 Albany Avenue, Bedford-Stuyvesant, New York the defendant collected rent from a tenant after leasing out an apartment. In another instance, involving 1424 Fulton Street, Bedford-Stuyvesant, New York he was captured on videotape filing a Power of Attorney at the City Register’s office, after the actual owner of the property received an email alert of a document filed against the property.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “All too often we are seeing thieves targeting seemingly abandoned properties to try to cash in on Brooklyn’s soaring real estate prices. With today’s sentence, the defendant has been held accountable. Homeowners can protect themselves by registering with the Automated City Register Information System (ACRIS) so that they are automatically informed of changes made to documents associated with their property – as happened with one of the victims in this case – to alert them to potential theft and fraud related to their property.”

Ogundiran was sentenced by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun to an indeterminate term of two to six years in prison. The defendant pleaded guilty to first-degree grand larceny and first-degree scheme to defraud on March 7, 2018.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Gavin Miles, Counsel to the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Richard Farrell, Chief of the Real Estate Frauds Unit, and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Deputy Chief of the Investigations Division.

Geri Lyn McKinnon, 64, Gladstone, Oregon, was indicted today by the Clark County Grand Jury on four felony charges for her role in taking title, without authorization, to foreclosed properties owned by Federal National Mortgage Association.

According to the indictment, McKinnon recorded grant deeds in the Clark County Recorder’s Office, purporting to be the new owner of three single family homes in Clark County, Nevada. In fact, the properties actually belonged to the Federal National Mortgage Association and as a result of these misrepresentations, the properties became unmarketable for over two years.

The charges include three counts of Theft in the Amount of $3,500 or more, and one count of Pattern of False Representation Concerning Title, all category “B” felonies. The alleged fraudulent acts were committed in the fall of 2015.

The announcement was made by Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt.

It is important to Nevada’s housing market that property titles remain clear, marketable and free from fraud,” said Laxalt. “I encourage Nevadans looking to rent or buy properties to protect themselves through title insurance and to review the County records prior to entering into real property agreements.

This case was investigated by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of the Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jay Johnson. The Office of the Nevada Attorney General’s Fraud Unit is prosecuting this case.

An indictment is merely a charging document; every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.

Robert Jacobsen, 69, formerly of Lafayette, California, pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering charges in connection with a scheme to use sham companies and collusive lawsuits to create the appearance that mortgage liens had been invalidated. The plea was accepted by the Honorable Maxine M. Chesney, U.S. District Judge.

According to the plea agreement, Jacobsen admitted that from October 2012 through October 2013, he executed a scheme to sell homes to buyers who were duped into believing that the homes had clear title.  Jacobsen admitted that he identified homes with mortgage deeds of trust that were recorded for the benefit of an entity called “American Brokers Conduit” (ABC).  Jacobsen also admitted that he registered a separate entity in New York called “American Brokers Conduit Corporation” (ABC Corp.).  Jacobsen then hired an attorney to file lawsuits against his phony ABC Corp., claiming that mortgages that had been originated by the real ABC were invalid.  Controlling both sides of the lawsuits, Jacobsen caused the attorneys to enter into stipulated judgments, agreeing that the mortgage deeds of trust were invalid.  The courts then entered judgment based on these fraudulent agreements, which Jacobsen recorded with county recorder’s offices.  The result created the impression that the deeds of trust had been legitimately invalidated by federal or state courts.

Jacobsen admitted that two homes that were the subjects of such lawsuits were in Danville, California, and San Francisco, California.  Jacobsen admitted that, after obtaining fraudulent judgments, he sold the Danville home for $540,000 and the San Francisco home for $1.2 million.  Jacobsen admitted that in both cases, his representations regarding the fraudulent court judgments had a natural tendency to influence the buyers to purchase the homes.

As part of his plea agreement, Jacobsen further admitted that proceeds from the sale of the Danville and San Francisco homes were used to pay for a 54’ Hylas sailboat that the government seized at a marina in Beaufort, North Carolina on November 18, 2015.  Jacobsen agreed that his interest in this sailboat was subject to forfeiture.

On December 5, 2015, a federal grand jury indicted Jacobsen charging him with 13 counts of wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343 and 9 counts of engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity (money laundering), in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1957.  Pursuant to the plea agreement, Jacobsen pleaded guilty to one count of each crime.

Jacobsen’s sentencing is scheduled for November 15, 2017.  Jacobsen faces a maximum sentence of 20 years of imprisonment, and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution, for the wire fraud count and a maximum sentence of 10 years of imprisonment, and a fine of $250,000, for the money laundering count.

The plea was announced by United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett, and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, Special Agent in Charge Michael T. Batdorf.  Assistant United States Attorneys Benjamin Kingsley, Meredith Osborn, and Gregg Lowder are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Beth Margen and Bridget Kilkenny.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the FBI and IRS-CI.

Michelle Cabrera, 48, Miami Lakes, Florida, and Pedro Melian, 39, Hialeah, Florida, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud related to their participation in a $10 million Florida mortgage fraud scheme. At sentencing, each defendant faces up to thirty years’ imprisonment.

Marco Laureti, 45, Sunny Isles Beach, Florida, and Felix Mostelac, 44, Miami Beach, Florida, were charged by Indictment with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud  and multiple counts of wire fraud, for conduct allegedly related to the Florida mortgage fraud scheme, and are awaiting trial.

According to court documents, defendants Laureti, Mostelac, Cabrera and Melian were involved with a $10 million mortgage fraud scheme. Laureti was a former newspaper publisher and owner of Laureti Publishing Company, in addition to being a licensed real estate sales associate and mortgage broker. Mostelac was Laureti’s associate and also the owner of several companies. Cabrera owned Florida Elite Title & Escrow in Davie, Florida and served as the title agent for these transactions. Melian also owned several companies.

According to information presented in court and accompanying documents, the defendants engaged in a fraud scheme involving a condominium complex located at 45 Hendricks Isle, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Defendants Laureti, Mostelac and Melian made false and fraudulent statements to a financial institution on loan applications and closing statements for the multi-million dollar condominiums. Once the loans were approved, defendant Cabrera, at Laureti’s direction, diverted the loan proceeds to fund the cash the borrower was expected to bring to the property’s closing, as well as diverting additional monies from the loan proceeds to various companies owned by Laureti and Mostelac. Furthermore, according to court documents, Laureti and Mostelac utilized the same scheme on the loan applications and closing statements to purchase their own multi-million dollar residential properties in Miami Beach, in addition to Laureti directing Cabrera to divert funds. The defendants’ scheme defrauded the financial institution of approximately $10 million.

Benjamin G. Greenberg, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, made the announcement. Mr. Greenberg commended the investigative efforts of the FBI. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Randy Katz.

Ryan Geddes, 44, Litchfield, Connecticut was sentenced to 30 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for participating in multiple conspiracies involving a series of real estate transactions intended to shield assets from creditors.

According to court documents and statements made in court, Geddes had accrued a series of debts as of late 2005, and was the subject of various lawsuits and collection efforts for the next several years.  A bank fraud conspiracy commenced in November 2005 when Geddes sold a lakefront home located at 27 Palmer Road, Morris Connecticut to Thomas Provenzano.  Lacking the funds to qualify for the $923,000 mortgage, Provenzano nonetheless obtained the loan based on an application that falsely listed his income as $20,000 per month, or $240,000 annually, and falsely listed Provenzano as having worked for several years as the Operations Manager for one of Geddes’s construction companies.  Provenzano had not worked in that capacity, and had earned substantially less.  The loan application also listed Geddes’s company as having verified Provenzano’s employment.  In November 2006, Provenzano refinanced the loan, obtaining a $936,000 mortgage from a federally insured bank.  The new loan application, like the prior one, falsely listed Provenzano as employed by Geddes’s construction company, and falsely listed his monthly income as $28,000, or $336,000 annually.  The application again listed Geddes’s company as having verified Provenzano’s employment.  The loan is now in default, and the 27 Palmer Road property is in foreclosure. Continue Reading…

Robert Jacobsen, 67, formerly of Lafayette, California, was charged with wire fraud and with engaging in financial transactions involving criminally derived proceeds arising out of an alleged scheme to defraud homeowners and mortgage holders

According to the indictment, Jacobsen created a company called “American Brokers’ Conduit Corporation.”  This company was not related to a mortgage originator known as “American Brokers’ Conduit,” which had originated mortgages in the Bay Area and elsewhere.  Jacobsen, through intermediaries, gained control of homes with mortgage liens that secured loans originated by the real “American Brokers’ Conduit,” and then, again through intermediaries, sued the phony “American Brokers’ Conduit Corporation” in court, claiming that the legitimate mortgage liens were invalid. Continue Reading…

Ray M. Mubarak, 56, Knoxville, Tennessee, was sentenced to serve 57 months in prison for conducting a scheme to defraud financial institutions and engaging in an unlawful monetary transaction with fraudulently-obtained loan proceeds.  He was also ordered to pay $1,993,938.44 in restitution to three banks and a title insurance company that lost money as a result of the scheme.

Mubarak pleaded guilty in May 2015 to federal charges stemming from his scheme to defraud multiple banks into loaning him over $6 million. He submitted false tax returns and personal financial statements which grossly inflated his income and net worth in order to qualify for the loans. Mubarak also admitted to defrauding the banks by causing them to rely on a fraudulent title opinion letter and forged loan closing documents and deeds.

The trial for Mubarak’s co-defendants, Dianna Mubarak and Blythe Bond Sanders, III, is scheduled for March 1, 2016.

Marbarak was sentenced by the Honorable Pamela L. Reeves, U.S. District Judge.  The investigation was conducted by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation and Federal Bureau of Investigation.  The investigation and prosecution of Mubarak was coordinated with the Office of the District Attorney General, 6th Judicial District.  Matthew T. Morris, Assistant U.S. Attorney, represented the United States.

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

Daniel Deaibes, 36, Rancho Cucamonga, California, pleaded guilty to participating in a scheme to steal title to Southern California homes, and then to “sell” the properties to unsuspecting buyers—who later learned they had actually purchased nothing.

Continue Reading…

Angela M. Blythe, 51, Oakland, Maryland, was indicted on charges of conspiracy, bank fraud and making a false statement to a bank for her alleged role in preparing deeds, mortgages and notes in false identities, then recording those fraudulent documents thereby concealing the true owner of the properties.

Continue Reading…