Peter Bakowski, 59, Tampa, Florida, the mastermind behind a $20 million mortgage fraud related Ponzi scheme, was sentenced to 188 months (15 years, 8 months) in federal prison and ordered to pay $16.1 million in restitution.
According to court documents, Bakowski was a licensed mortgage broker at the time he perpetrated his scheme, misusing his credentials to sell the same mortgage to multiple victims. In order to keep the Ponzi scheme going Bakowski would pay returns to the preceding investors with money from new investors. More than 30 victims were affected, including investors and institutions, and more than 150 properties involved. Many of the investors were elderly.
Florida Office of Financial Regulation (OFR) Commissioner Tom Cardwell and United States Attorney Robert E. O’Neill commend the teamwork which resulted in the conviction and sentencing of Bakowski.
“Bakowski‘s promises of returns between 10-15 percent are a perfect example of the tactics used by fraudsters to entice investors,” warned Commissioner Cardwell. “It is a reminder that, as consumers looking to invest our hard-earned dollars, we need to adhere to the warnings that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.”
United States Attorney O’Neill stated, “Mortgage fraud has plagued many areas of Florida, and this sentence is a clear sign that those responsible for breaking the law are being held accountable. We will continue to work with state and local law enforcement to vigorously prosecute these types of crimes.”
“Because of the teamwork between our offices, we were able to uncover and prove Mr. Bakowski’s wrongdoings,” said Commissioner Tom Cardwell. “Together we were able to put an end to his victimization and bring him to justice.”
This case was investigated by the OFR Bureau of Financial Investigations and the United States Secret Service. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Thomas N. Palermo and Patricia Willing.