Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Linda Deavers gets 10 years in prison

Linda Deavers (61, Fishers, Indiana) was found guilty of 10 counts of wire fraud and 5 counts of money laundering. Deavers faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison for each count of wire fraud and 10 years in federal prison for each count of money laundering.
Deavers was indicted in September 2012. She was arrested in October 2013, after flying into California from Hong Kong. The jury returned the verdict on July 11, 2014. Her sentencing hearing is scheduled for October 2, 2014.
According to evidence presented at trial, Deavers devised an investment fraud scheme that used an entity by the name of Angel Annie Humanitarian Trust, LLC. As part of her pitch to investors, Deavers represented that the entity was a Section 501(c)(3) charitable organization, that she had connections to trading programs in Europe that would generate large rates of returns and that she had been successful in investing in such trading programs previously. She represented that any money invested with her and Angel Annie Humanitarian would be invested in such trading programs overseas. None of those representations were true. Deavers collected more than $5.2 million from investors located in Florida.
After returning approximately $1.8 million to investors, Deavers used most of the remaining $3.4 million in proceeds to fund her lifestyle, in Indiana and Europe, and to pay various expenses for herself and her family, including a $1 million deposit on a mansion. To lull her investors into a false sense of security, Deavers used e-mail and Skype to provide the investors with a series of false excuses as to why she had not been able to successfully invest their money. Even after Deavers had spent the last of the funds from her victims, for several years, she continued to falsely claim that she was working on investments for them.

4 Defrauded Bank of America of More Than $500,000 by “Flipping” Property

An indictment was unsealed earlier today charging individuals with bank fraud and conspiracy arising from a scheme to take advantage of plans by an all-girls high school in Hempstead, New York, to expand its campus and build an athletic field for students.
The defendants, two couples, including a real estate attorney and the officer of a real property corporation, were arrested earlier today by special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and will be arraigned this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge William D. Wall at the United States Courthouse in Central Islip, New York. If convicted, each defendant faces up to 30 years of imprisonment, fines, and the forfeiture of $539,000 in allegedly illegal profits arising from the scheme.
The charges and arrests were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and George Venizelos, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI).
As set forth in the indictment, defendants Sofia Atias, Joseph Atias, and Nicholas Pellegrini conspired to defraud Bank of America of over half a million dollars by fraudulently avoiding foreclosure on a home through a fraudulent “short sale” of the property to a straw buyer — defendant and co-conspirator Paula Berckhoff, also known as “Paula Pellegrini” — and then profiting from the home’s re-sale or “flip” to Sacred Heart Academy, a Catholic all-girls high school that paid the conspirators almost $1 million for the property to accomplish long-sought plans to improve and expand its facilities.
Early in 2011, defendant Sophia Atias had defaulted on some $750,000 in a mortgage and home equity loan secured by a home she owned at 83 Cathedral Avenue, Hempstead, New York, which sat adjacent to the high school. As Bank of America began foreclosure proceedings, defendants Sophia Atias, Joseph Atias, and Nicholas Pellegrini, acting as the couple’s attorney, negotiated with representatives of Sacred Heart Academy and ultimately won a commitment from the school to buy the property for $925,000 — an amount that would have been enough to repay the Atias’ debts to the bank.
Instead, the defendants allegedly conspired to induce Bank of America to agree to a short sale of the Cathedral Avenue property. Short sales are an alternative to lengthier and often costly foreclosure proceedings. In a short sale, a bank agrees to accept whatever price a defaulting borrower can get on the immediate or short sale of a property in foreclosure. As the bank did here, lenders may also release the borrower from any obligation to repay any remaining balances owed on the original mortgage or loans.
Knowing that Sacred Heart Academy had already agreed to buy the Cathedral Avenue home for $925,000, the defendants nonetheless induced Bank of America to agree to a short sale of the house for only $480,000 to Jefferson Real Property Corporation, whose secretary and treasurer was defendant Nicholas Pellegrini’ s wife. As part of their agreement with the bank, Mrs. Pellegrini, using the name Paula Berckhoff, and Mrs. Atias, both falsely represented that neither would receive any undisclosed proceeds from the transaction and further claimed that the short sale was not an attempt to “flip” or use “straw buying” to avoid repayment of Atias’ debt.
In fact, as charged in the indictment, several months after the fraudulent short sale, the Atiases and Pellegrinis did re-sell or “flip” the Cathedral Avenue home to Sacred Heart Academy for the previously agreed price of $925,000. Given the fraudulent inducement to accept the short sale, Bank of America was defrauded of almost $540,000.
“Through a web of lies and false documents, the defendants took advantage of a school’s desires to improve its students’ athletic facilities, lied to win concessions from a bank, and then lied again by ‘flipping’ the property and defrauding the bank of over half a million dollars. This is not a case about tough bargaining. This is fraud, pure and simple,” stated United States Attorney Lynch.
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Venizelos stated, “As alleged in the indictment, while the defendants did not brandish a weapon, they stole over half a million dollars from Bank of America based upon their false misrepresentations and filing of false documents with the victim-lender. Bank fraud burdens lenders with bad loans and weakens our financial markets. Individuals who engage in this criminal activity should be reminded that they will be vigorously investigated and held accountable.”

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Four Arrested for fraud

A six-count indictment was unsealed this morning in federal court in Brooklyn charging mortgage broker Alex Barrett, property manager Barthelemy Adjavehoude, title agent Michelle Baker, property manager and self-described foreclosure specialist James Bayfield, and property managers Samuel Terrell Bell and Dirk Hall with engaging in a bank and wire fraud conspiracy to steal millions of dollars from financial lending institutions.1 Defendants Adjavehoude, Baker, Bayfield, and Bell were arrested and will be arraigned this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom at the United States Courthouse in Brooklyn, New York. The defendants face penalties of up to 30 years’ imprisonment if convicted.
The charges were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; George Venizelos, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI); Michael Stephens, Acting Inspector General, Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General (FHFA-OIG); Christina Scaringi, Special Agent-in-Charge, Northeast Region, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General (HUD-OIG); and Derek Evans, Special Agent-in- Charge, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation-Office of Inspector General, New York Region.

Record $7 Billion Global Settlement with Citigroup

The Justice Department, along with federal and state partners, today announced a $7 billion settlement with Citigroup Inc. to resolve federal and state civil claims related to Citigroup’s conduct in the packaging, securitization, marketing, sale and issuance of residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) prior to Jan. 1, 2009. The resolution includes a $4 billion civil penalty—the largest penalty to date under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act (FIRREA). As part of the settlement, Citigroup acknowledged it made serious misrepresentations to the public—including the investing public—about the mortgage loans it securitized in RMBS. The resolution also requires Citigroup to provide relief to underwater homeowners, distressed borrowers and affected communities through a variety of means including financing affordable rental housing developments for low-income families in high-cost areas. The settlement does not absolve Citigroup or its employees from facing any possible criminal charges.
This settlement is part of the ongoing efforts of President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force’s RMBS Working Group, which has recovered $20 billion to date for American consumers and investors.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Colorado man sent to 108 months in prison for fraud

Roger K. Howard, 51, Englewood, Colorado, was sentenced on Tuesday by U.S. District Court Judge R. Brooke Jackson to serve 108 months in federal prison for wire fraud and money laundering. Following his prison sentence, Howard was ordered to serve three years on supervised release. He also has to pay $8.9 million in restitution to the victims of his crime. The defendant, who appeared at the sentencing hearing free on bond, was ordered to report to a facility designated by the U.S. Bureau of Prison within 15 days from the date of designation. As previously reported by Mortgage Fraud Blog, Howard, along with a co-defendant, Oai Quang Luong, 45, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver on January 25, 2012. Howard pled guilty on June 21, 2013. He was sentenced on February 11, 2014. Howard‘s co-defendant, Oai Quang Luong, pled guilty to wire fraud on May 22, 2013, and was sentenced by Judge Jackson on August 15, 2013, to serve 18 months in prison. Luong was ordered to pay restitution totaling $3.2 million joint and several with Howard. According to the facts contained in the indictment as well as the stipulated facts contained in the plea agreement, in 2006 and 2007, Howard devised and participated in three similar but separate mortgage fraud schemes. The first and larger scheme involved the sales of 26 townhomes in a development known as Oliveglen Villas, East Princeton Place, Aurora, Colorado.

Seven suspects who have been charged in a mortgage fraud scheme

Seven suspects who have been charged in a mortgage fraud scheme that defrauded more than 1,550 Inland Valley, California, homeowners seeking loan modification services during the foreclosure crisis have been arrested. The felony complaint alleges that Nehad “Nick” Ayyoub Ayyoub, 57, San Bernardino, California, and president of The Firm Loans, Insurance and Investments Inc. and First Choice Debt Solutions Inc., along with his six colleagues, Ghydan Ayyoub Rabadi, 38, Los Angeles, California, Zaid Rabadi, 49, Los Angeles, James Clemons, 55, Riverside County, California, Wissam Ismail, 32, Riverside County, Eddie Mercado, 57, San Bernardino, and Majid Safaie, 60, Orange County, California, deceived homeowners by illegally charging up-front payments for loan modification services and lying about the services they provided. The suspects are charged in a 24 count complaint of felony grand theft, personal and corporate income tax evasion and conspiracy. The suspects were booked at Murrieta Detention Center, Orange County Jail, Rancho Cucamonga Jail and Azusa Police Department. Ayyoub is being held with bail set at $75,000 and all others are being held with bail set at $50,000. Ayyoub is facing a maximum exposure of 12 years in prison while his colleagues are facing a maximum exposure of 8 years. According to court filings, Ayyoub and his colleagues took advantage of homeowners who were desperate to lower their mortgage payments by selling them home loan modification services and requiring payment of up-front fees. Homeowners were falsely told that attorneys would be negotiating their loan modifications, that they would get a loan modification with no risk of failure, that they would receive a refund if they were dissatisfied and that the suspects had special contacts with lenders, which would give them an advantage in obtaining lowered monthly payments. Homeowners were instructed to stop paying their mortgage and to instead give the money to Ayyoub and his colleagues to ensure that they would obtain a loan modification, causing many victims to default on their home loans without obtaining a modification, according to court filings. The suspects operated this scam from January 2007 to March 2010, according to court filings. Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced the arrests.

Michael Wayne Harding pleaded guilty

Michael Wayne Harding, 59, Keswick, Virginia, a businessman and former commercial real estate agent who pled guilty last year to a variety of federal fraud charges, was sentenced in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Charlottesville. The defendant previously waived his right to be indicted and entered a plea of guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of bankruptcy fraud. In district court, Harding was sentenced to 30 months of federal incarceration. In addition, the defendant was ordered to pay more than $2,019,403 in restitution. According to a statement of facts agreed to by the defendant and admitted to the court at a previous hearing, Harding was the president and sole employee of a company called HMC Holdings. On numerous occasions, Harding attempted to secure mortgages for properties HMC Holdings owned based on improvements that had been made to those properties. However, in order to secure the mortgages, Harding was required to provide the mortgage companies with proof that work had been done to the properties. Harding is alleged to have created fake invoices in order to secure the mortgages. Harding also admitted that after being issued checks by the mortgage companies intended for the contractors, Harding took those checks to local businesses and had the funds converted for his own personal use. In April 2011, Harding filed bankruptcy. The defendant admitted today that during his bankruptcy proceedings he filed false monthly operating reports, failed to deposit all income into his debtor-in-possession account (which is required by the court), and lied about forging signatures on releases, liens, and deeds of trust. The defendant also admitted to lying about his relationship with a business partner in connection with a proposed sale of property during his corporate bankruptcy.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Daniela Spiridon pled guilty to a real estate scheme

 Daniela Spiridon o femeie, din Missouri,  in varsta de 42 de ani a pledat vinovata pentru frauda cu proprietati imobiliare. Femeia risca pana la 20 de ani de inchisoare si penalitati de 250,000 de dolari. Aceasta a returnat autoritatilor banii si bunurile obtinute din activitatile ilicite.

Daniela Spiridon, 42, St. Charles, Missouri, pled guilty to a real estate scheme related to the purchase or sale of properties. According to court documents, Spiridon was affiliated with several businesses from an office in Chesterfield, Missouri, which included A&AD Investments LLC; CDRS ESC Investments; Sentrix Loan Production Office; and others. As part of the scheme, Spiridon fraudulently offered to assist buyers in the purchases of properties that were acquired by lenders through foreclosure and held in inventory, known as real estate owned (REO) properties. She offered to broker purchases or arrange for financing related to the purchase or sale of the REO properties. She had potential buyers place deposits on the properties, which she was to put into an escrow account, but she actually put the money in a non-escrow account in one of her own companies. She often used buyers’ funds for personal expenses and to reimburse other buyers who demanded their funds be returned rather than to secure real property or financing. Spiridon pled guilty to six felony counts of wire fraud before United States District Judge John A. Ross. Sentencing has been set for January 9, 2014. Each count of wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000. In determining the actual sentences, a judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges. Restitution is mandatory. Additionally, with her plea, Spiridon has agreed to the forfeiture of money and property derived from the illegal activity. This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Postal Inspection Service, and Federal Housing Finance Agency Office of Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorney Rob Livergood is handling the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.