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.