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Insights from Patrick Crowley

Archives October 16, 2005


October 20, 2005

A Columbus, Ohio, man wanted on 49 criminal charges related to an alleged mortgage fraud ring was arrested Thursday morning after being pulled over by police on Interstate 70.

Corey M. Hazel, 44, was indicted Wednesday on charges that including racketeering and mortgage fraud, ncb41.com in Columbus is reporting.

Hazel and others are reportedly accused of running a fraudulent mortgage business that used phony earnings and bank statements in filing false loan applications, Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien told the station.

Authorities have been investigating Hazel for three years. The scheme allegedly involved 30 properties in and around Columbus and cost lenders more than $2 million.

"There's a lot of paperwork associated with each case," Hazel said in explaining why the investigation lasted so long. "There's a lot of leg work...checking for information."

The station reported that when Hazel was arrested police found "stacks of credit cards" in his van. They are no yet sure what, if any, role the cards played in the mortgage scheme.

read story from nbc4i

October 19, 2005

Alabama mortgage loan officer Tavares Charles Williams is going away for a year for ripping off the federal government’s FHA loan program.

Williams, 29, used phony Social Security numbers and fake HUD docs – including bogus credit reports -- to qualify people who should not have qualified for FHA loans, according to a federal prosecutor. Approximately $112,304 was "taken through the scheme," U.S. Attorney Alice H. Martin said in a statement.

After serving a year in prison Williams will be on three years of supervised release. He was originally convicted in May on three felony charges.

Williams must also pay $84,000 in restitution, Ledger-Enquirer.com is reporting.

read story at the Ledger-Enquirer

read announcement from U.S. Attorney

read announcement from U.S. Department of Justice

Colorado, one of just two states that does not regulate mortgage brokers, is pondering some tough new regulations that include forcing brokers to register with the state and post a $100,000 bond before going into business.

Colorado has become a hot bed of mortgage fraud and the new regs are being pushed by consumer and industry groups, according to the Denver Post.

The potential changes are coming after some initial resistance by state’s Department of Regulatory Agencies, which said in 2001 that regs weren’t needed.

"There wasn’t enough evidence at the time to make a compelling argument, and the applicants requested an onerous regulatory scheme that didn’t really help the consumers," Geoffrey Hier, spokesman for the department, reportedly told the paper. "This request is more practical."

The regulations are still a recommendation and must be approved by the legislature and Gov. Bill Owens.

Under the suggested regulations mortgage brokers would have to go through a criminal background check and post the $100,000 bond before they could be licensed. The regs are reportedly backed by the Colorado Association of Mortgage Brokers.

read story from the Denver Post

October 14, 2005

An Olympian, Wash., man convicted of swindling an elderly widow out of her home can stay out of jail -- as long as he pays off the $107,000 left on her mortgage.

Michael Brandon Miller missed a court-imposed Aug. 30 deadline to pay off her $107,000 mortgage. But he has been given another year as long as he pays off $60,000 by April and the balance by September, according to The Olympian newspaper.

Miller, 27, a financial adviser, admitted in 2004 that a jury would have likely have convicted him of using fraud to convince the woman to sign her home over to him. Miller was also forced to sign a quitclaim deed that put the home back in the woman's name.

Prosecutors reportedly let Miller strike another deal so the mortgage would be paid off and the woman would not be forced from her home.

Miller continues to claim he is innocent. He allegedly used the 75-year-old woman's home to obtain a mortgage. He used some of the money to pay off her first mortgage and make repairs to her home.

But the paper is reporting that Miller lost the rest of the money day-trading on the stock market.

read story from The Olympian

Here's another case of somebody allegedly preying on the elderly with a mortgage fraud scheme.

Prosecutors in Contra Costa County, Calif., have charged Mark Russon, 47, the operator of Pacific Rim Mortgage, with using fraud to steal more than $1.5 million over eight years from a 92-year-old man.

The Contra Costa Times is reporting that Russon allegedly told the man he had clients interesting in investing in loans that would be secured by deeds of trust on borrower's residences. The elderly man allegedly gave Russon money to invest in 22 deals, but the borrowers did not exist, prosecutors believe.

Russon had been paying the man $1,000 a month, but when the payments stopped in 2004 he contacted prosecutors.

Russon was being held on $1 million bail. He faces 21 counts of elder abuse, seven counts of grand theft, one count of acting as a real estate agent without a license and one count of attempting to record a false or forged document.

read story from the Contra Costa Times

The retrial of a Florida real estate investor who has been indicted three times for mortgage fraud is back on trial in Jacksonville.

J.R. Parker reportedly signed contracts to buy houses and then sold the contracts at a significant markup, according to a story in The Florida Times-Union. But Parker has been indicted multiple times as prosecutors have refined their fraud case against him.

A mortgage broker reportedly testified that Parker told her to inform mortgage companies that his customers had $20,000 to $35,000 in the bank when the money allegedly did not exist. The mortgage broker, identified in the story as Heidi Weppelman, co-owner of Monarch Mortgage Funding in Jacksonville, testified yes and has already pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud.

The fraud appears to be significant.

Dale Beardsley, a real estate lawyer, was indicted with Parker. He has reportedly signed a statement that Parker was involved in a $14 million fraud that involved nearly 250 houses.

Parker has maintained his innocence. In May a judge declared a mistrial after a jury couldn't reach a verdict.

read story from The Florida Times-Union

Patrick Crowley is fraud journalist for MortgageDaily.com and a reporter and columnist for The Cincinnati Enquirer.

Email Patrick at: PatCrowley@FraudBlogger.com
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