Archives For False Documents

Ira Morya Davis, 40, Irving, Texas, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud on Oct. 26, 2021.

According to information presented in court, Davis and at least two other co-conspirators devised a fraud scheme targeting various financial institutions and real estate purchasers.  To accomplish the fraud, Davis and his co-conspirators created shell companies and executed various mortgage and property documents that purportedly conveyed ownership interests of various real properties from the true owners to the conspirators’ shell companies.  Davis and his co-conspirators then filed the fraudulent documents with county offices falsely showing that they had mortgage liens on the properties, sold the properties, and triggered the title companies to unwittingly fund the co-conspirators.  During the course of the scheme, Davis obtained and used fraudulent notary stamps using real people’s identities, which enabled the conspirators to legitimatize the otherwise fraudulent documents.  Davis and his co-conspirators targeted multiple properties, and the financial harm resulting from his offense was at least $2.5 million.

Davis was indicted by a federal grand jury on March 12, 2020.  He faces up to 20 years in federal prison.  The maximum statutory sentence prescribed by Congress is provided here for information purposes, as the sentencing will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.  A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office.

Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei made the announcement.

The Eastern District is committed to tackling complex fraud schemes, including those that target financial institutions and purchasers in the real estate market,” said Acting United States Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei.  “Regardless of the complexities involved, the public can be assured that EDTX and its law enforcement partners are working tirelessly to disentangle complex white collar fraud schemes and bring culpable individuals to justice.”

The case is being investigated by the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

 

Carlos Rafael Castaneda Mendez, 34, Miami, Florida, Alejandro Boada Oliveros, 45, Miami, Florida, Jonnathan Jesus Gonzalez, 33, Miami, Florida, Yanjeisis Alejandra Pompa Villafane, 25, Hialeah, Florida, Lilia Rosa Morales Moreno, 45, Miami, Florida, Katherine Hansen Mendoza, 25, Miami, Florida and Isbel Rodriguez Batista, 23,  Teaneck, New Jersey were sent to federal prison for their roles in a fraud scheme that involved stealing identities, creating and using fake foreign passports, impersonating homeowners, and falsifying loan documents to trick lenders into providing millions of dollars of mortgage loans on unencumbered residential properties.

The scheme followed a general pattern.  First, the fraudsters would identify residential homes with no mortgages, and absent owners, located in high-end South Florida neighborhoods.  Next, using the names and other identity information of the true homeowners, the fraudsters created fake passports.  Alongside the homeowners’ names, the fraudsters placed photographs of co-conspirators.  Some of those co-conspirators appeared at loan closings posing as the homeowners.  The fraudsters used the fake passports to apply for mortgage loans from private lenders and to open bank accounts in the homeowners’ names — accounts into which lenders wired the loan money.  They used the stolen money to buy luxury cars, expensive watches, and other items.  In total, the scheme drained close to $10 million of equity from South Florida homes.

Carlos Rafael Castaneda Mendez was sentenced to 78 months, Alejandro Boada Oliveros was sentenced to 46 months, Jonnathan Jesus Gonzalez was sentenced to 44 months, Yanjeisis Alejandra Pompa Villafane was sentenced to 28 months, Lilia Rosa Morales Moreno was sentenced to 30 months; Katherine Hansen Mendoza was sentenced to seven months and Isbel Rodriguez Batista, was sentenced to 30 months.

Charges against other defendants are pending.  An indictment is only an accusation and defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Juan Antonio Gonzalez, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Brian Swain, Special Agent in Charge, United States Secret Service (USSS), Miami Field Office; and Anthony Salisbury, Special Agent in Charge, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Miami Field Office made the announcement.

USSS Miami, HSI Miami, and Aventura Police Department investigated this case.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Hauser is prosecuting the case.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole Grosnoff is handling asset forfeiture.

Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or at http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov, under case no.: 20-cr-20155.

Dennys Tapia, 55, Ridgefield Park, New Jersey was sentenced today to 15 months in prison for his role in a scheme to defraud financial institutions of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

From 2015 to 2018, Tapia conspired with others to fraudulently obtain mortgage loans from financial institutions, including “Mortgage Lender A” and “Mortgage Lender B,” to finance the purchase of properties by unqualified buyers. Applicants for mortgage loans are required to list their assets and income on their mortgage loan applications, and mortgage lenders rely on those applications when deciding whether to issue mortgage loans.

Tapia admitted participating in a conspiracy in which he knowingly provided fraudulent documents to a loan officer at Mortgage Lender A for potential borrowers, including fraudulent lease agreements, bank statements, and a gift check and gift letter. Based on this false information, Mortgage Lender A issued mortgage loans to unqualified buyers, which caused Mortgage Lender A hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses. Some of the loans Mortgage Lender A issued to unqualified borrowers were sold to the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation “Freddie Mac,” a government-sponsored enterprise with the mission of providing liquidity, stability, and affordability in the United States housing market.

Tapia also admitted causing a straw borrower, “Individual A,” to apply to Mortgage Lender B for a cash-out refinance mortgage loan that contained multiple misrepresentations of material facts and fraudulent documents, including pay stubs and a verification of employment. Based on the false information submitted by Individual A and Tapia, Mortgage Lender B issued a false and fraudulent cash-out refinance mortgage loan, which resulted in Tapia earnings tens of thousands of dollars in profits.

Tapia previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Judge Chesler imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.

Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig made the announcement.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Chesler sentenced Tapia to two years of supervised release and ordered restitution of $182,508 and forfeiture of $176,532.

Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr. in Newark, and special agents of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Robert Manchak, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.

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

 

Marco Lurigio, also known as “Demetrio Cardone,” 45 and Sandy Lurigio, also known as “Janette Chavez,” 39, Downers Grove, Illinois,  a husband and his wife, have been charged in federal court in Chicago with participating in a mortgage fraud scheme that defrauded financial institutions out of at least $2.5 million.

The Lurigio’s owned several Illinois-based companies, including S&G Technologies Inc., O.C. Management Group Inc., Riverview Financial Inc., and Toro Management, Inc.  According to the indictment, the Lurigios recruited buyers to fraudulently obtain mortgage loans for properties on Chicago’s South Side by making and causing to be made materially false representations in documents submitted to financial institutions.  The false representations included documents and statements regarding, among other things, the buyers’ employment, income, assets, source of down payment, and intention to occupy the property as a primary residence, the indictment states.  In some instances, the Lurigios fraudulently claimed to lenders that the buyers were employed by one of the Lurigios’ companies, even though they knew that was untrue, the indictment states.  The alleged fraud scheme lasted from 2011 to 2014, the indictment states.

The indictment was returned Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Chicago.  It charges Marco Lurigio, and Sandy Lurigio with eight counts of financial institution fraud.  Arraignments have not yet been scheduled.

The indictment was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Michael Powell, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General.  The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jason Yonan and Alejandro Ortega.

The public is reminded that an indictment is not evidence of guilt.  The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  Each count of financial institution fraud is punishable by up to 30 years in federal prison.  If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.

 

Steve Young Kang, aka “Steven Young Kang” and “Young Tae Kang,” 66, Ridgefield, New Jersey, was sentenced today to 18 months in prison for his role in a multi-year scheme to defraud financial institutions and others for a Short Sale Fraud Scheme.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Kang and others fraudulently induced mortgage lenders to participate in “short sale” transactions, in which, typically, a financial institution agrees to allow a homeowner in financial distress to sell his or her home for less than the homeowner owes on the mortgage. Such transactions are called short sales because the market value of the house is less than the amount owed by the homeowner and the lender agrees to accept a payment “short” of the amount owed by the owner.

From June 2013 to January 2017, Kang, who owned and controlled two real estate brokerages, sold his own properties and recruited others to sell properties in fraudulent short sales to a co-schemer, Mehdi Kassai. The co-schemers convinced financial institutions to agree to short sales and to accept less than the properties were worth through false documents, straw buyers, and cosmetic damage to properties. Kang, as a listing broker, also prevented legitimate and higher offers from being made by artificially limiting the ability of others to bid on and buy properties. Kassai then sold the properties to third-parties at a substantial profit. Kang defrauded financial institutions and others of at least $2.7 million.

In addition to the prison term, Kang was sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered him to forfeit $835,248 in proceeds of the scheme. Restitution will be determined at a later date.

Kang previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge William J. Martini to an information charging him with one count of bank fraud and one count of wire fraud. Judge Martini imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.

Rahul Agarwal, Attorney for the United States in this matter, announced.

Attorney for the United States Agarwal credited special agents of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Robert Manchak, special agents of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jason J. Molina, and the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Mark Musella, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.

The government is represented by Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys Charlie L. Divine and Kevin V. Di Gregory of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General.

 

Christopher Grooms, 41, Savannah, Georgia pled guilty to an Information charging him with a scheme to enrich himself by repeatedly borrowing money against the same pieces of property will go to prison for fraud.

As described in court documents and testimony, Grooms operated several real estate investment companies that acquired and resold real estate. From 2013 to 2018, Grooms devised a scheme in which one of his companies would purchase a property using borrowed funds, and he would then falsify documents to show that the lien against the property had been satisfied. He would then secure additional loans against the property, repeatedly filing fraudulent paperwork to show the property was unencumbered by liens.

Grooms used the scheme at least 24 times for nearly $3 million in fraudulent loans from multiple financial institutions. The properties used in the scheme were located in Georgia cities including Savannah, Hinesville, Glennville, Midway and Allenhurst.

Grooms was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison, ordered to pay $1,645,267.95 in restitution, and a forfeiture money judgment totaling $2,937,881.43, said David H. Estes, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. After completion of his prison term, Grooms must serve four years of supervised release.

There is no parole in the federal system.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General (FHFA-OIG) is committed to holding accountable those who waste, steal, or abuse the resources of the government-sponsored enterprises regulated by FHFA.  We are proud to have partnered with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia in this case,” said Edwin S. Bonano, Special Agent-in-Charge, FHFA-OIG, Southeast Region.

This sentence should serve as a stark reminder that such greed as seen in this case comes with a bigger cost,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “The FBI recognizes the impact on the banking institution and will continue to dedicate investigative resources to target fraud in its many forms.”

Financial fraud temporarily enriches criminals at the long-term expense of legitimate businesses,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Estes. “As Christopher Grooms discovered, our law enforcement partners are adept at rooting out these schemes, and his ill-conceived investment in criminal activity is returning a dividend of time behind bars.

Committing high-level fraud will not be tolerated in Georgia,” said Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) Director Vic Reynolds. “The GBI worked hard on this investigation with local and federal partners to bring this case to a successful prosecution.”

The case was investigated by the FBI, the Federal Housing Finance Agency Office of the Inspector General, the GBI, and the Tattnall County Sheriff’s Office, and prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tara M. Lyons and Asset Recovery Unit Chief Xavier A. Cunningham.

 

Daniel R. Fruits, 46, Greenwood, Indiana, was charged today by a federal grand jury for his alleged role in three separate fraud schemes, including attempted mortgage fraud , a nearly $14 million fraud on an investor, and a vehicle title-washing scheme.

The Indictment alleges Fruits attempted to perpetrate a mortgage fraud scheme on Fifth Third Bank. Specifically, in late 2018, Fruits made false statements to Fifth Third Bank to secure a $432,000 mortgage. He twice submitted falsified paperwork purporting to show that loans from another bank had been paid off, when they had not been.

The Indictment also alleges that Fruits defrauded a Kentucky investor, who was also Fruits employer, out of nearly $14 million. In 2015, the investor founded a trucking company, Secure Transit, and hired Fruits to run it. Over the next four-and-a-half years, the investor would invest approximately $14 million in the business.

Fruits repeatedly lied about the company’s financial health, who its customers were, and what the money invested was being used for. On multiple occasions, Fruits allegedly sent the investor fictitious customer sales contracts and falsified financial statements that reported inflated company profits. At the same time, Fruits allegedly asked the investor for additional investments, sometimes in the millions of dollars, purportedly for the purchase of trucks or other business expenses.

Fruits spent a significant portion of the money on his own personal purchases and payments. He allegedly spent approximately $880,000 to purchase a horse farm and his personal residence, $560,000 on an RV and trailer, over $111,000 on a Corvette, approximately $90,000 on three Rolex watches, approximately $55,000 on a horse, $33,000 on a horse trailer, $23,000 on payments for two Ferraris, and $30,000 on payments for two escorts.

Finally, Fruits perpetrated a title-washing scheme to remove a bank’s lien from the title of a truck he purchased. He financed the truck with a loan from Ally Financial for over $69,000.  Several months later, he sent the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles a falsified letter purportedly from Ally Financial stating that the loan had been paid off and the lien should be released.

The loan had not been paid off and Ally Financial never wrote that letter. As a result, the BMV issued Fruits a free-and-clear title for the truck, which Fruits then sold for $48,000, without repaying the loan to Ally Financial.

Acting United States Attorney John E. Childress made the announcement.

This financial investor gave his hard-earned money to someone whom he thought he could trust,” said Childress. “Instead, the victim’s money ended up in the hands of a self-absorbed thief who only cared about his interests. Living a life of fraud is inexcusable and always comes to an end.

This case was the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigations, and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation.

This indictment sends a strong message that the FBI will aggressively investigate those who commit such extensive financial fraud and steal from their employer to pad their own pockets to fund a lavish lifestyle,” said FBI Indianapolis Special Agent in Charge Paul Keenan. “The FBI and our law enforcement partners will always pursue those who take advantage of others through illegal and criminal behavior.

The IRS enforces the nation’s tax laws, but also takes particular interest in cases where someone, for their own personal benefit and greed, has taken what belongs to others,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Tamera Cantu, of IRS Criminal Investigation, Chicago Field Office. “With our agent’s financial investigation expertise, we followed the money and helped to unravel the fraud and deceit conducted by Mr. Fruits. We are pleased with the successful resolution of this investigation due to the cooperative efforts of our law enforcement partner and the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Southern District of Indiana.”

An indictment is a set of allegations and is not itself evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

In November of 2020, Acting United States Attorney John E. Childress renewed a Strategic Plan designed to shape and strengthen the District’s response to its most significant public safety challenges. This prosecution demonstrates the Office’s firm commitment to prosecuting complex, long-running fraud schemes. (See United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Indiana Strategic Plan 5.1)

 

Dennys A. Tapia, 54, Ridgefield Park, New Jersey, admitted today, his role in a scheme to defraud financial institutions of hundreds of thousands of dollars

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court: From 2015 to 2018, Tapia conspired with others to fraudulently obtain mortgage loans from financial institutions, including “Mortgage Lender A” and “Mortgage Lender B,” to finance the purchase of properties by unqualified buyers. Applicants for mortgage loans are required to list their assets and income on their mortgage loan applications, and mortgage lenders rely on those applications when deciding whether to issue mortgage loans.

Tapia admitted to participating in a conspiracy in which he knowingly provided fraudulent documents to a loan officer at Mortgage Lender A for potential borrowers, including fraudulent lease agreements, bank statements, and a gift check and gift letter. Based on this false information, Mortgage Lender A issued mortgage loans to unqualified buyers, which caused Mortgage Lender A hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses. Tapia also admitted to conspiring with a straw borrower, “Individual A,” to submit an application to Mortgage Lender B for a cash-out refinance mortgage loan that contained multiple misrepresentations of material facts and fraudulent documents, including pay stubs and a verification of employment. Based on the false information submitted by Individual A and Tapia, Mortgage Lender B issued a false and fraudulent cash-out refinance mortgage loan, which resulted in Tapia earnings tens of thousands of dollars in profits.

The conspiracy charge to which Tapia pleaded guilty carries a maximum of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Sentencing is scheduled for April 17, 2021.

Tapia pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito made the announcement.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr. in Newark, and special agents of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Robert Manchak, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.

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

Barry Wayne Plunkett Jr., 60, and Nancy Plunkett, 55, both of Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, a former Massachusetts attorney and his wife were indicted today in federal court in Boston in connection with various mortgage fraud schemes.

According to the indictment, until he was disbarred in October 2017, Barry Wayne Plunkett Jr. owned and operated the Plunkett Law Firm where his wife, Nancy Plunkett, was his office assistant and paralegal.

The indictment alleges that the defendants engaged in several bank fraud schemes. In one scheme, from September 2012 to July 2016, the defendants defrauded six mortgage lenders and 14 homeowners for whom the Plunkett Law Firm handled the closings for new mortgage loans to refinance residential properties. The defendants informed the mortgage lenders that pre-existing mortgages were paid off from the new loan proceeds when, in fact, the Plunketts intentionally failed to pay off the prior liens and instead converted more than $900,000 in payoff funds for their own purposes.

In other bank fraud schemes – between April 2015 and March 2018 – it is alleged that the Plunketts fraudulently used various names, entities and false documents to obtain three successive mortgage loans on their home in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts in amounts of $412,000, $470,000 and $1.2 million. The defendants pledged as collateral a property in Hyannis Port that was held in a family trust for which Barry Wayne Plunkett Jr. was one of three beneficiaries. Both defendants participated in providing false documents to the lenders, including false title reports and other records to falsely represent that the property was free and clear of existing mortgage liens and forged documents in the names of other people. The defendants also allegedly made misrepresentations to a lender that Nancy Plunkett was a single woman living in Wellesley who was purchasing the property in her maiden name as a business investment when, in fact, the defendants had been married since 2014 and the property was their residence.

Both were were indicted on five counts of bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. Barry Wayne Plunkett Jr. was also charged with one count of tax evasion.

The charge of bank fraud provides for a sentence of up to 30 years in prison, five years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. The charge of tax evasion provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.  The charge of aggravated identity theft provides for a mandatory two-year sentence to be served consecutively to any other sentence imposed. 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; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; 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. Attorney Victor A. Wild of Lelling’s Securities, Financial & Cyber Fraud Unit is prosecuting the case.

Blanca A. Medina, 54, Manalapan, New Jersey, pleaded guilty today, admitting her role in a scheme to defraud a financial institution of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

From 2015 to 2018, Medina conspired with others to fraudulently obtain mortgage loans from “Mortgage Lender A” in Monmouth County to finance the purchase of properties by unqualified buyers. Applicants for mortgage loans are required to list their assets and income on their mortgage loan applications, and mortgage lenders rely on those applications when deciding whether to issue mortgage loans.

Medina, a former loan officer for Mortgage Lender A, admitted to participating in a conspiracy in which she knowingly caused completed mortgage loan applications that contained multiple misrepresentations of material facts regarding the buyers’ assets and income to be submitted to Mortgage Lender A. A conspirator provided Medina with false and fraudulent documents for potential borrowers including false and fraudulent lease agreements, bank statements, and a gift check and gift letter. Based on these lies, Mortgage Lender A issued mortgage loans to unqualified buyers, which caused Mortgage Lender A hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses.

The conspiracy charge to which Medina pleaded guilty carries a maximum of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Sentencing is scheduled for October 20, 2020.

U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito made the announcement.

Medina was charged before U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler in Newark federal court to a one-count information charging her with conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Douglas Korneski in Newark, and Special Agents of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Robert Manchak, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.

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