Archives For Florida

Brian Roy Lozito, 54, Orange Park, Florida, to two years and two months in federal prison for a Nationwide Mortgage Fraud Scheme

According to court documents, Lozito owned and managed American Investigative Services (AIS). AIS purported to offer consumers mortgage auditing services in exchange for a fee. Lozito and his conspirators solicited customers nationwide through mailings and telephone calls. In these solicitations, Lozito and AIS employees, under the direction of Lozito, made false and fraudulent representations to consumers, including that AIS would perform “forensic audits” of mortgage documents to uncover evidence of deficiencies in the mortgage documents. Lozito claimed AIS would obtain quitclaim deeds and other remedies so the mortgage holders would be relieved of their mortgage debt and own their properties free and clear. If AIS could not help the consumer, Lozito promised to refund their money. In reality, AIS did not perform the services paid for by consumers and did not refund money to consumers. Funds collected from consumers went to bank accounts controlled by Lozito who then used the funds to keep AIS operating and for personal expenses.      

The court ordered Lozito to pay restitution to the victims he defrauded and also entered an order of forfeiture in the amount of $164,193.84, the proceeds of the fraud. Lozito had pleaded guilty on July 28, 2023. He was arraigned on the indictment on January 11, 2021, and initially released on bond. The court revoked his bond on November 18, 2022, and subsequently ordered him detained. 

This case was investigated by United States Secret Service – Jacksonville Field Office, the Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the Florida Attorney General with valuable assistance from the Clay County Sheriff’s Office. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kevin C. Frein. The asset forfeiture was handled by Assistant United States Attorneys Mai Tran and Jennifer M. Harrington.

Carlos Ferrer, 46, Tampa, Florida, has pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

According to the plea agreement, Ferrer, co-conspirator Maria Del Carmen Montes, and others conspired to create and executed a mortgage fraud scheme targeting financial institutions. To ensure that otherwise unqualified borrowers were approved for mortgage loans, the conspirators created fictitious and fraudulent paystubs and IRS Form W-2s in the names of companies for which the borrowers had never worked. The bogus income documents falsely indicated that borrowers had worked at these companies, including companies formed and controlled by Ferrer, for a certain period and earned income that they had not. These fictitious paystubs and W-2s were submitted to the financial institutions who relied on them when making underwriting decisions.

To further deceive the mortgage lenders, Ferrer filled in the false employment and employment and income on Verifications of Employment (VOE) sent by the financial institutions. Ferrer then falsely certified and emailed VOEs sent by the financial institution in the names of borrowers that he knew did not work for his companies and lied to the financial institutions during verbal VOE verifications. Based on Ferrer’s misrepresentations, the financial institutions approved and funded the mortgage loans.

Ferrer faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not been set.

This case was investigated by the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of Inspector General, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor.

 

Omayra Ujaque , 52, St. Cloud, Florida, has been sentenced to two years and eight months in federal prison for bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.

According to evidence presented at trial, Ujaque, in her capacity as a licensed mortgage loan officer, created and executed a mortgage fraud scheme targeting the financial institution where she worked. To ensure that otherwise unqualified borrowers were approved for mortgage loans, Ujaque falsified the borrowers’ income by fabricating or inflating the amounts of their monthly child support payments on mortgage loan applications that she signed and certified to the financial institution’s underwriting department. In furtherance of her scheme, Ujaque created fictitious Final Judgments of Dissolution of Marriage and Final Orders Modifying Child Support that fraudulently represented that the borrowers were entitled to receive non-existent monthly child support payments. Ujaque then used the names of judges from the Circuit Court of the Ninth District of Florida and forged their signatures on the fabricated Final Judgments of Dissolution of Marriage or Final Orders Modifying Child Support. Ujaque also created bogus Florida Department of Revenue statements listing fraudulent monthly child support payments, as well as phony prepaid debit card statements listing fake borrower withdrawals of the non-existent monthly child support payments.

In most cases, the borrowers did not have the listed children and/or had never been married. Ujaque submitted bogus paperwork to the financial institution to support the false monthly income on the loan applications. Based on Ujaque’s misrepresentations, the financial institution approved and funded the mortgage loans.

Ujaque was convicted at trial on April 13, 2023.

This case was investigated by Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of Inspector General, and the Florida Office of Financial Regulation. It was prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor.

 

Brian Roy Lozito, 53, Orange Park, Florida, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

According to court documents, Lozito owned and managed American Investigative Services (AIS). AIS purported to offer consumers mortgage auditing services in exchange for a fee. Lozito and his conspirators solicited customers nationwide through mailings and telephone calls. In these solicitations, Lozito and AIS employees, under the direction of Lozito, made false and fraudulent representations to consumers, including that AIS would perform “forensic audits” of mortgage documents to uncover evidence of deficiencies in the mortgage documents. Lozito claimed AIS would obtain quitclaim deeds and other remedies, so the mortgage holders would be relieved of their mortgage debt and own their properties free and clear. If AIS could not help the consumer, Lozito promised to refund their money. In reality, AIS did not perform the services paid for by consumers and did not refund money to consumers. Funds collected from consumers went to bank accounts controlled by Lozito. Lozito used the funds to keep AIS operating and for personal expenses.

Lozito faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison and payment of restitution to the victims he defrauded. Lozito was arraigned on the indictment on January 11, 2021, and initially released on bond. The court revoked his bond on November 18, 2022, and subsequently ordered him detained. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg made the announcement.

This case was investigated by United States Secret Service – Jacksonville Field Office and the State of Florida Office of Attorney General – Consumer Protection Division, with valuable assistance from the Clay County Sheriff’s Office. It is being  prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney the Kevin C. Frein. The asset forfeiture is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Mai Tran.

 

Johnny Fior, 48, Cape Coral, Florida has been sentenced to 46 months in federal prison for wire fraud and illegal monetary transactions.

According to court documents, Fior committed the fraud by engaging in two different fraud schemes. With the first scheme, Fior convinced two individuals, by false and fraudulent pretenses, to serve as private investors/lenders for short-term balloon loans that were secured by mortgages on real properties in Lee County, Florida. To accomplish the scheme and give the investors the impression that their funded loans were secured by real property, Fior fraudulently filed fictitious mortgage deeds, promissory notes, and mortgage satisfactions. Additionally, Fior provided the investors interest-only payments to further delay repayment of the loans and requested loan repayment extensions to further prolong the scheme. Fior diverted the investors’ funds for his own personal use and none of the funds were used for their intended purpose.

In the second scheme, Fior, in his role as a real estate closing agent, diverted funds intended to be used to pay off property sellers’ existing mortgages to himself during real estate closings. In furtherance of the scheme, Fior created and caused the creation of real estate settlement statements that falsely represented a seller’s mortgage was repaid during the real estate closing process. Additionally, Fior created fake and fictitious bank statements, lender correspondence, wire transfer records, cashier’s checks, deposit records, and shipment records that fraudulently represented a seller’s mortgage had been paid or that the mortgage pay-off funds were submitted. As a result of the second scheme, two separate title insurance companies suffered a total loss of approximately $977,330.23.  

As part of his sentence, the court also entered an order of forfeiture in the amount of $1,404,169.74, which were the proceeds of the wire fraud and illegal monetary transaction offenses. Fior had pleaded guilty on January 18, 2023.

 This case was investigated by the FBI. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Trent Reichling.

Omayra Ujaque ,52, St. Cloud, Florida, has been found guilty of three counts of bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.

According to evidence presented at trial, Ujaque, in her capacity as a licensed mortgage loan officer, created and executed a mortgage fraud scheme targeting the financial institution where she worked. To ensure that otherwise unqualified borrowers were approved for mortgage loans, Ujaque falsified the borrowers’ income by fabricating or inflating the amounts of their monthly child support payments on mortgage loan applications that she signed and certified to the financial institution’s underwriting department. In furtherance of her scheme, Ujaque created fictitious Final Judgments of Dissolution of Marriage and Final Orders Modifying Child Support that fraudulently represented that the borrowers were entitled to receive non-existent monthly child support payments. Ujaque then used the names of judges from the Circuit Court of the Ninth District of Florida and forged their signatures on the fabricated Final Judgments of Dissolution of Marriage or Final Orders Modifying Child Support.

Ujaque also created bogus Florida Department of Revenue Statements listing fraudulent monthly child support payments, as well as phony prepaid debit card statements listing fake borrower withdrawals of the non-existent monthly child support payments. In most cases, the borrowers did not, in fact, have the listed children and/or had never been married. Ujaque submitted bogus paperwork to the financial institution to support the false monthly income on the loan applications. Based on Ujaque’s misrepresentations, the financial institution approved and funded the mortgage loans.

Ujaque faces a maximum penalty of 30 years’ imprisonment for each bank fraud count and a mandatory 2-year sentence for the aggravated identity theft county. Her sentencing hearing is scheduled for July 5, 2023. Ujaque had been indicted on February 15, 2023.

This case was investigated by Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of Inspector General, and the Florida Office of Financial Regulation. It is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor.

 

Cameron Porter, 35, Plant City, Florida, has been sentenced to three years and one month in federal prison for conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

According to court documents, in March 2019, Porter conspired with Christopher Alholm and others to defraud an FDIC insured bank (“Bank 1”) with branches located throughout the Middle District of Florida. Bank 1 was a member institution of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta. During the conspiracy, Porter obtained a victim bank customer’s (“Customer 1”) stolen Home Equity Line of Credit (“HELOC”) account number and personally identifying information (“PII”), including name, signature, date of birth and Social Security number from a co-conspirator, and passed that information to Alholm. Alholm subsequently used the stolen PII and impersonated Customer 1 at a Bank 1 branch located in Spring Hill to conduct a fraudulent $495,000 advance of funds from the Customer 1’s HELOC account to an intermediary account at Bank 1. After Alholm had completed the fraudulent advance of funds, another conspirator subsequently wired the stolen HELOC funds from the intermediary account to offshore bank accounts. Porter then received a share of the stolen proceeds for his role in the conspiracy.

Alholm previously pleaded guilty to his role in this case. In November 2022, he was sentenced to five years and six months in federal prison for conspiracy to commit bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.

As part of his sentence, the court also entered an order of forfeiture in the amount of $5,000, the proceeds of the charged criminal conduct. Porter had pleaded guilty on guilty on January 9, 2023.

This case was investigated by the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General and Florida Department of Law Enforcement. It is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor.

 

James John Melis, 52, Largo, Florida has been indicted on four counts of wire fraud, two counts of bank fraud, and three counts of aggravated identity theft.

The indictment charges Melis with carrying out a mortgage origination fraud scheme against a financial institution for two properties he owned. To deceive the mortgage lender into believing he was a qualified borrower, Melis used the personal identification information of another person on loan applications, and prepared and submitted false and fraudulent IRS income tax returns, fictitious satisfactions of mortgages falsely representing that his properties had equity, and lease agreements falsely showing he received substantial rental income. As part of this scheme, Melis used the means of identification of other individuals and forged their signatures on the fictitious satisfactions of mortgage and phony lease agreements submitted to the mortgage lender. Based on Melis’ misrepresentations, the financial institution approved and funded both mortgage loans.

Separately, Melis abused his position as business manager at a private school in Tampa by attaching his personal bank account to the school’s PayPal account without authorization. When parents made tuition payments to the school’s account, Melis initiated fraudulent electronic funds transfers to his personal account. He then spent the stolen funds on travel and luxury items, such as jewelry.

If convicted, Melis faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison for each wire fraud count, 30 years for each bank fraud count, and a consecutive mandatory penalty of 2 years’ imprisonment for the aggravated identity theft counts.  The indictment also notifies Melis that the United States is seeking an order of forfeiture in the amount of $1.1 million, the proceeds of the charged criminal conduct.

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg made the announcement

This case was investigated by the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  It will be prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor.

 

Maria Del Carmen Montes, 46, Kissimmee, Florida has been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, four counts of bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. Also charged is Montes’ husband Carlos Ferrer, 45, Kissimmee, Florida with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and three counts of bank fraud.

According to the Indictment, Montes and Ferrer conspired to create and executed a mortgage fraud scheme targeting financial institutions. To ensure that otherwise unqualified borrowers she was representing as a licensed realtor were approved for mortgage loans, Montes created fictitious and fraudulent paystubs and IRS Form W-2s in the names of companies for whom her clients had never worked. The bogus income documents falsely indicated that her clients had worked at these companies, including companies formed and controlled by Ferrer, for a certain period of time and earned income that they did not. Montes submitted the fictitious paystubs and W-2s she created to the financial institutions who relied on them when making underwriting decisions. Additionally, Montes used her clients’ personally identifying information on these documents without their knowledge or authorization.

In order to further deceive the mortgage lenders, Montes and Ferrer recruited a co-conspirator working at a company listed on certain false paystubs and W-2s to falsely certify Verifications of Employment (VOEs”) sent by the financial institutions and instructed the co-conspirator to lie to the final institutions when they called to further verify the borrower’s employment. Ferrer and Montes sent the false and fictitious paystubs and W-2s to the co-conspirator so the co-conspirator could put the false information on the VOEs before certifying, signing, and returning them to the financial institutions. Ferrer also falsely certified and emailed VOEs sent by the financial institution in the names of borrowers that he knew did not work for his companies and lied to the banks during verbal VOE checks. Based on Montes’ and Ferrer’s misrepresentations, the financial institutions approved and funded the mortgage loans.

If convicted, Montes faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison on the conspiracy count, up to 30 years for each fraud count, and a mandatory penalty of 2 years’ imprisonment for the aggravated identity theft count. If convicted, Ferrer faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison for the conspiracy count, and up to, 30 years’ imprisonment for each fraud count.

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

This case was investigated by the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of Inspector General, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  It will be prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor.

 

Evelisse Hernandez, 40, Kissimmee, Florida has been charged with four counts of bank fraud and four counts of aggravated identity theft.

According to the indictment, Hernandez, in her capacity as a licensed mortgage loan officer, created and executed a mortgage fraud scheme targeting the financial institution where she worked. To ensure that otherwise unqualified borrowers were approved for mortgage loans, Hernandez falsified the borrower’s income through completely fabricated or inflated monthly child support payments on mortgage loan applications that she signed and certified to the financial institution’s underwriting department. In furtherance of her scheme, Hernandez created fictitious Final Judgments of Dissolution of Marriage showing the borrowers were entitled to receive non-existent monthly child support payments. Hernandez then used the names of Judges from the Circuit Court of the Ninth District of Florida and forged their signatures on the fabricated Final Judgments of Dissolution of Marriage. Hernandez then created bogus Florida Department of Revenue Statements showing the party purportedly paying monthly child support payments to the borrowers and manufactured phony prepaid debit card statements showing the borrowers purportedly withdrawing the non-existent monthly child support payments. In most cases, the borrowers did not have the children listed or had never been married. Hernandez submitted bogus paperwork to the financial institution to support the false monthly income on the loan applications. Based on Hernandez’s misrepresentations, the financial institution approved and funded the mortgage loans.

If convicted, she faces up to 30 years in federal prison on each bank fraud count and a mandatory consecutive 2 years’ imprisonment on the aggravated identity theft counts. The indictment also notifies Hernandez that the United States is seeking an order of forfeiture in the amount of $130,000, representing the proceeds of the charged criminal conduct.

United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg made the announcement.

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

This case was investigated by the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of Inspector General and the Florida Office of Financial Regulation. It will be prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor.