Posted by: cfigueira | June 23, 2010

5.5 Million Dollar Scam

Real Estate Firm Indicted For 5.5 Million Dollar Scam Federal grand jury accuses 10 employees of a California real-estate company or orchestrating a scam that led to a $5.5 million dollar loss to home loan lenders. The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced June 16 that 10 suspects, including five Elk Grove residents, were involved in a conspiracy where they committed mortgage fraud, mail fraud and lied on mortgage applications to banks from 2006 through 2007. The FBI and the IRS claim that Elk Grove’s Liberty Real Estate and Investment Company, and the Liberty Mortgage Company were at the center of the scheme where 30 illegal real estate transactions were made. Authorities say that 28 of the affected properties went into foreclosure. As of press time, a U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesperson said that about half of the suspects went to federal court and were released on bond, while three remain at large. The Elk Grove-based suspects are: Hoda Samuel, 58, a real estate broker and Liberty leader; Connie Devers, 40, a Liberty employee; Charles Robert Maness, 32, a real estate broker; Sean Patrick Gjerde, 34, an attorney; and Ronald Burris, Jr., 36, a Liberty customer. The other suspects are: Dana Faukner, 43, of Oakland; Tracy Painter, 50, of Lodi; Ygnacia Bradford, 34, of Oakland; Nicole Dawson, 40, of Oakland; and Daniel Harrison, 40, of San Diego. Investigators say that the scheme worked by having Devers and Faulkner prepare loan applications that had false employment information and inflated income for borrowers. A Liberty employee or associate then allegedly lied to any mortgage lender who contacted the company to verify the false information. The U.S. Attorney’s Office stated that Bradford, Painter, and Dawson misinformed the lenders. Gjerde allegedly wrote to lenders where he falsely claimed to have customers’ tax returns and lied that the employment information on their applications was legitimate. Liberty is also accused of offering sellers $15,000 to $40,000 more than the asking prices for properties. Another charge is that Maness, a Liberty real estate broker, lied to a seller’s agent about a transaction being financed by a program that makes homes accessible to disabled homeowners. Investigators say that the money gained through that transaction was sent back to Liberty since such remodeling was rarely done. Authorities say that a customer played a part in Liberty’s schemes. Burris reportedly bought three properties and he was among other Liberty customers who purchased more than one home. Liberty allegedly organized a scheme for the multi-home buyers where they would have separate title companies handle the transactions as well as giving loan applications to separate mortgage lenders. Liberty then reportedly had the purchases scheduled around the same closing times so that the purchases would not appear to be connected on a credit report. All of the suspects face conspiracy charges that could lead up to a maximum prison term of five years and a $250,000 fine, according to the indictment. Penalties are stronger for the mail fraud charge, which carries the maximum prison sentence of 20 years, while the charge of making false statements on a loan application could result in a 30-year prison sentence and a $1 million fine for seven of the suspects. The U.S. Attorney’s Office noted that President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force supported the case’s investigation.

Original Article:  Mortgage Ledgar

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