When I spoke at the American Association of Mortgage Regulators Conference (AARMR) last week in New Orleans, I commented on the fact that, due to heightened underwriting requirements in mortgage lending, origination frauds are more distant from the file. What does this mean? It means that the fraud itself is occurring through third party manipulation that is virtually impossible to discover by a simple review of the mortgage documents. One of the methods I used as an example is credit manipulation. A recent guilty plea out of Miami-Dade illustrates this trend. In this case, a Miami-Dade police officer accepted money to create false police reports reflecting that credit repair customers had reported that they were the victims of identity theft. In such cases, negative credit reporting is blocked. Paying $1,500 for credit repair is generally worthless. But, couple that with a police officer in your back pocket? Price–less.
George Price, 42, a Miami-Dade Police Officer, Miami-Dade, Florida, pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1349, an offense punishable by up to twenty years in prison.
According to court documents, including the stipulated proffer, Price and his co-conspirators participated in a scheme to provide false police reports to individuals operating credit repair businesses. A co-conspirator would provide Price with identifying information of credit business customers. Price would then create false police reports, using the customers’ identifying information. The police reports would falsely represent that the customers had reported to the Miami-Dade Police Department facts consistent with having been victims of identity theft. Price would cause the false police reports to become official records of the Miami-Dade Police Department. A member of the conspiracy would cause the false police reports created by Price to be transmitted to credit reporting agencies in order to induce the removal of negative items from the credit histories of the alleged victims identified in the false police reports. Price created the false police reports in order to promote the success of the credit businesses and in return would receive payment from his co-conspirators.
“Law enforcement officers have a duty to protect and serve the public. Instead, George Price betrayed his badge in order to enrich himself unjustly. Our Office remains vigilant in its efforts to track down and root out official corruption,” stated U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer.
“George Price was a police officer who participated in a wire fraud scheme wherein he provided false police reports in exchange for payment. This unacceptable behavior only serves to tarnish the reputation of the overwhelming majority of police officers who serve their communities faithfully and well every day,” said George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami. “The FBI operates the Miami Area Corruption Task Force to root out this type of activity.”
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI Miami Area Corruption Task Force and MDPD Professional Compliance Bureau. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Davis.