Yu Jane Chen, a.k.a. Yu Tang, 43, Naperville, Illinois, was sentenced to state prison in connection with a million-dollar mortgage and credit card scheme she and others conducted in Bergen County, New Jersey. Chen pleaded guilty on October 1, 2010 to second-degree theft by deception. Chen must pay restitution of $1,153,375, for which she is jointly and severally liable with her co-defendants. Chen was arrested in Illinois in May 2010, by the Naperville Police.
On October 1, 2010 co-defendant Yi Feng Reid, a.k.a. Penny Reid, 49, formerly of Closter, New Jersey, and more recently of Irvine, California, was sentenced to three years in state prison. Reid pleaded guilty on May 6, 2010 to second-degree theft by deception. She is also jointly and severally liable for restitution of $1,153,375.
As previously reported on the Mortgage Fraud Blog, the charges against Chen and Reid were contained in a June 26, 2009 state grand jury indictment. Two men, George Liu, 34, and Ji Gang Chen, 54, are charged in the same indictment with one count each of conspiracy, theft by deception and identity theft. Both men once lived in New York, and now reside in China. The charges are pending against those men, who are considered fugitives.
The investigation revealed that Reid and Yu Jane Chen were involved in the mortgage and small business loan industry in the Bergen County, New Jersey area. They unlawfully used the identities of other people to obtain mortgages, other types of loans and unauthorized credit card accounts from 2004 through mid-2007. Some victims gave Reid and Yu Jane Chen their personal and financial information while seeking and obtaining a loan. Other victims provided their personal information while beginning the loan process, then elected not to seek a loan. The victims later learned that their names had been used to secure unauthorized mortgages, loans and credit cards.
Reid and Yu Jane Chen were the principal co-conspirators. With their help, co-defendant George Liu allegedly obtained two mortgages on a family member’s house totaling $314,000 by using that relative’s identity, along with false tax returns and phony employment information. Co-defendant Ji Gang Chen, assisted by the women, allegedly obtained four mortgages on a family member’s house totaling $446,000, using the relative’s identity and false employment and wage information.
In all, the four defendants were charged with obtaining seven mortgages totaling $850,000 by using stolen identities and false information. In addition, 13 bank-approved loans and credit accounts worth a total of more than $300,000 were opened using stolen identities. Numerous banks in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York were defrauded.
The investigation was conducted for the Division of Criminal Justice Major Crimes Bureau by Lt. James H. MacInnes, Deputy Attorney General Ehrenberg and Supervising Deputy Attorney General Terrence Hull, who is chief of the Major Crimes Bureau. Detective Jason Zbrozek of the Naperville Police Department in Illinois provided valuable assistance.
The investigation revealed that, among other things, Reid and Yu Jane Chen used checks, credit card transactions and cash proceeds from their unlawfully-obtained accounts to make ATM withdrawals, and to buy goods at supermarkets, gas stations, toy stores, jewelry stores and other retail outlets. Other credit and cash proceeds were used to pay for ponies to entertain Reid’s child, to pay Reid’s nanny, to pay for the EZ Pass account of a Reid family member and to pay the expenses of Reid-operated businesses.
The investigation further revealed that Yu Jane Chen used credit and cash proceeds to make a variety of jewelry purchases, and to pay the expenses of several businesses in which she was involved. Thousands of dollars also went to pay a spiritual adviser shared by both Reid and Yu Jane Chen. In some cases, proceeds from the unauthorized loans were used to make payments on other fraudulently-obtained credit accounts.
The charges against Liu and Ji Gang Chen are merely accusations and they are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Deputy Attorney General Francine Ehrenberg is prosecuting the case and handled today’s sentencing for the Division of Criminal Justice Major Crimes Bureau.