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Last Updated Friday, August 22, 2008 10:00 PM Texas Time

August 21, 2008

Four Texan Fraudsters Plead Guilty
Four people have recently pleaded guilty to a $15 million mortgage fraud in Texas. Carlos Paul Gonzalez, 38, and Machell Halstead, 42, Jannice Bonner, 39, and Russell Browder, 41, all admitted to various forms of fraud including falsifying documents to obtain several mortgage loans. If convicted, each faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for December.

Pennsylvania Revokes Broker License
NorthStar Mortgage LLC has had its license pulled because of fraudulent activity among its employees. Officials say employees repeatedly altered, fabricated and falsified documents to obtain mortgage loans, many of which have since defaulted.

Broker Submitted False Loan Apps
Andrew McCullough, 35, was indicted on charges of mortgage fraud in Pennsylvania. McCullough is accused of submitting false documents to various mortgage brokers to obtain mortgage loans.
Read story at Pittsburgh Tribune

Four Dearborn, Mich. Men Indicted
Hassan Nagi, 30, Ali Haidous, 24, Safi Bzeih, 35, and Hussein Aoun, 23, have been charged with conspiracy, bank fraud and mail fraud in a $1.9 million fraud scheme that involved 16 properties. Aoun is a fugitive in Lebanon, but the other three will be arraigned this week.
Read story at The Detroit News

Title Co. Owner Sentenced
Molly L. Heise, 50, owner of Profile Title and Escrow in Minnesota, was sentenced to almost six years and ordered to pay more than $3.9 million in restitution. Heise stole $3.7 million in the scam to a secret escrow account. Christine A. Hein, 38, from also pleaded guilty in the case. She was sentenced to two years probation.
Read story at Star Tribune

August 20, 2008

Routine Examination Turns Costly
When New Hampshire regulators were given loan files for a routine examination of a mortgage brokerage, they became suspicious about missing documents. With a little more work, they found the missing documents in a shredding bin and reconstructed them only to find altered documents on loans from that state and from Massachusetts. In addition to fining the broker $400,000, they alerted Massachusetts regulators -- who then took their own actions. The New Hampshire Banking Department has entered into a consent order with The Mortgage Specialists Inc. Also listed in the order were the company's owner Michael Gill and its compliance officer Lisa Tracy. In a staff petition dated July 23, the state said it conducted a routine examination of 20 loan files.
Read story at MortgageDaily.com

Broker Avoids Trial
Donald Walthall, 40, pleaded guilty right before going to trial. He was charged with one count of racketeering and 24 counts of theft by swindle. His plea bargain resulted in a 6-year prison sentence. He has also been ordered to make an undetermined amount of restitution.
Read story at Star Tribune

Six Tricked Lenders out of $17 Million
Six of 15 arrested in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme have pleaded guilty of defrauding a number of lenders out of over $17 million. Monica Fergusson, 37, and Diana Diaz, 40, if convicted, face up to five years in prison and a fine of $20,000 plus legal costs. Mari Matilde Leony Rodriguez-Triana, 44, and Raisa Diaz face up to three years in prison and a $10,000 fine and legal cost; Marlene Norono, 47, faces up to three years in prison and a $15,000 fine plus legal costs. Mario Lubian, 47, was sentenced to one year of community control followed by four years of probation and 90 days in county jail plus $10,000 in fines.
Read story at BizJournals

Appraiser for Parish Sentenced
Donald T. Yeager, 41, was sentenced to 15 months in prison for his role in a $100 million mortgage fraud scheme that involved about 200 homes with Parish Marketing. He pleaded guilty to inflating 74 appraisals for Parish. Michael Parish and his wife, Ardith were sentenced to 13 years and five years, respectively.
Read story at Star Tribune

Avoiding Mortgage Fraud
Increased awareness of mortgage fraud activity has necessitated homeowner’s educate themselves before taking out a mortgage. Here are some tips from the FBI compiled by BloggerNews.net.
Read story at Blogger News

Central Coast Foreclosure Aid Scam
Maria Ponce, 50, has been accused of defrauding a number of homeowners facing default, including the elderly, out of thousands of dollars. She was charged with 12 counts of elder abuse, grand theft and residential burglary.
Read story at KSBW News

August 18, 2008

Developer’s Sentence on Hold
Todd Phillips pleaded guilty to fraudulently trying to acquire more than $14.5 million from more than 20 Mississippi banks using his company Todd Phillips Investments Inc. and Statewide Realty Holdings LLC. His attorney, Dwayne G. Deer and his business manager, Dawn Stinson, have also been charged in the case.
Read story at WAPT News

Inflated Appraisals Wreaking Havoc
A retired couple bought a home that they thought had an appraised value of $114,500. It was only worth $98,000. After a series of unfortunate events, the appraiser, Ed Britt, had his license suspended for a year. The homeowner blames the North Carolina Appraisal Board for not protecting her and her now deceased husband.
Read story at Pantagraph.com

Broker Deceived Lenders
Gene A. Bradford is charged with 11 counts of fraud, money laundering and other charges in a $1 million mortgage fraud scheme. While working with Guardian Financial Group, LLC, in Mississippi, Bradford falsified documents in order to get mortgage loans funded from lenders.
Read story at WLBT News

Fraud Facts and Tips
With the increase in mortgage fraud, the public needs to be educated more thoroughly in how to prevent it and in what to do if they find themselves as a victim. About.com writer Charles Montaldo takes a look at what scams the FBI is finding most prevalent and what victims can do to help themselves.
Read story at About.com

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