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Last Updated Friday, February 22, 2008 5:30 PM Texas Time

February 22, 2008

Man Pleads Not Guilty to Mortgage Fraud Charges
Keith A. Rice pleaded not guilty to mortgage fraud charges after being indicted on Feb. 12 for his involvement in a scheme in which he and his conspirators bought run-down houses and sold them at artificially inflated prices in Erie, Penn., causing the victims to suffer losses of more than $1 million. Rice was released on $5,000 recognizance bond.
read story from Erie Times-News

Co-Owners of Greek Restaurant Indicted on Mortgage Fraud Charges
Gihan Zalat and Scott McCann, co-owners of the Happy Greek restaurant at Ohio State University’s South Campus Gateway, were indicted on charges of involvement in an alleged mortgage fraud plan. The two men are both charged with three counts of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, 10 counts of money laundering and one count each of aggravated theft and receiving stolen property. Zalat was arrested and is being held on $1 million bond, while a warrant is out for McCann’s arrest.
read story from Columbus Business First

Nahmias Says Mortgage Fraud is Declining
U.S. Attorney David Nahmias, who targets the closing attorneys and appraisers to try to prevent mortgage fraud, said such crime is on the decline in Atlanta. After leading the nation in mortgage fraud just a few years ago, Georgia was fourth the following year, and Nahmias said he predicts the ranking by the Mortgage Asset Research Institute for 2008 for the state will be even further from the top.
read story from Atlanta Business Chronicle

Title Company Owner Pleads Guilty to Fraud Charges
Molly L. Heise, a title company owner in Chaska, Minn., pleaded guilty to fraud charges that drew in more than $2.5 million. Heise covertly diverted large sums of the company’s mortgage proceeds into two accounts, and she must pay restitution, though the amount is currently in dispute.
read story from Star Tribune

February 21, 2008

Affinion Group Relaunches PrivacyGuard.com Website
Affinion Group, a leading global affinity marketer, has relaunched its PrivacyGuard.com website, giving its consumers an identity theft protection service that is a more user-friendly experience in the battle against the fastest-growing crime in America. The new PrivacyGuard.com is easier to navigate and has a more revived appearance and feel to encourage better awareness against ID theft.

Jacksonville Man Sentenced to Seven Years for Mortgage Fraud
Justin D. Barker was sentenced to seven years in prison for mortgage fraud in Florida after his involvement in a scheme that netted him and his conspirators more than $4 million. Barker was ordered to pay restitution of $2.35 million and also forfeit $4.4 million after it was found he secured loans totaling $17.7 million on 40 properties and netted about $4.4 million from the fraudulent transactions.
read story from Kansas City Star

February 20, 2008

Central Florida Brings in FBI to Help Fraud Problem
The FBI is stepping in to help curb the mortgage fraud problem plaguing Central Florida. In the last three years, mortgage fraud complaints have more than quadrupled, and state investigators have teamed up with the FBI to uncover numerous cases involving local homeowners. Agents are working undercover by posing as lenders and homeowners to expose the fraud.
read story from WFTV Orlando

Convicted Man Sells Loans to Seniors While Awaiting Prison
Michael Duane Smith, while waiting for his date to report to prison for being part of a $50 million nationwide investment scam, has been selling “reverse mortgages” to senior citizens in Spokane, Wash., in the meantime. The convicted swindler was indicted in Colorado in 2004 and convicted of securities fraud in Denver last year after helping in a scheme that brought in $50 million from 1,000 investors, causing them to lose almost everything.
read story from SpokesmanReview.com

Ex-Broker Found Guilty of Loan Fraud
Jason Keigley, an ex-broker whose license was revoked in 2004, was arrested in April 2007 and is charged with mortgage fraud that cost his Indianapolis clients more than $200,000. He now faces up to more than 25 years in prison.
read story from The Indianapolis Star

Nevada to Use Task Force to Tackle Fraud Problem
Nevada law enforcement is bringing in the IRS and FBI to help crack down on the mortgage fraud that is prevalent in the state that led the nation in per capita foreclosures last year. The numerous foreclosures have resulted in home prices being driven down and contractors being forced out of work. Fraud for profit is 80 percent of the problem and will be the primary focus of the task force.
read story from Las Vegas Sun

Three Men Face Felony Charges for Fraud in Denver
Scott Richardson, Thomas Sarantinos and Anthony Sarantinos are accused of a mortgage scam that could cost a grandmother her home in Denver, Colo. The three men now face felony charges after refinancing the home to take out nearly $30,000 and giving fake mortgage payment coupons to the 66-year-old victim.
read story from CBS4 Denver

Two Plead Not Guilty To Fraud Charges
Gregory Finney and Francis Conti both pled not guilty to mortgage fraud charges as part of a widespread plan in which they and three others bought run-down houses and sold them at artificially inflated prices to residents in Erie, Penn., and the two men were released on $5,000 recognizance bond. Between 2003 and 2006, victims of the scandal suffered losses of more than $1 million.
read story from Erie Times-News

February 19, 2008

Fraud Prevention Tool Makes Debut
Wolters Kluwer Financial Services has announced the release of it's new anti-fraud platform which will allow financial institutions to track fraudulent trends and behavior in real-time.

Missouri Man Sentenced In Mortgage Scam Trial
Daniel Mann, who was convicted of committing mortgage fraud in November, was sentenced to serve 15 months in prison and ordered to pay $576,000 in restitution for his scheme involving more than 60 properties in St. Louis.
read story from The St. Louis Business Journal

Two New York Women Face Fraud Charges
Elba A. Garcia and Yanet Salazar, former loan officers, used the identity of a former client, after the client refused to participate in the scheme, to obtain a loan for a $589,000 home in Brooklyn, and now both face up to seven years in prison if convicted.
read story from The Queens Courier

Realtors Accused Of Hiking Values
Lance Sutter and Ruth Hersh, real estate agents with Exit-Success Realty, have been accused of fraudulently inflating the value of a Hernando Beach, FLorida property by $225,000 which sold and then quickly slipped into foreclosure.
read story from The St. Petersburg Times

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