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Fraud Ring Swindles $14 Million From Lenders

$14 Million Loan Fraud Scheme Alleged In Federal Grand Jury Indictment

KANSAS CITY, KAN. - (November 8, 2007) – Six people were indicted Wednesday on federal charges of taking part in a conspiracy to fraudulently obtain $14 million worth of loans on homes in the Kansas City area.

Named in the indictment were Wildor Washington, Jr., 37, Leawood, Kan.; Maurice Ragland, 33, Lee’s Summit, Mo.; Victoria Bennett, 34, Leawood, Kan.; Kara E. Robinson-Franks, 37, Grandview, Mo.; Scott Alexander, 69, Merriam, Kan.; and Terrence Cole, 41, Kansas City, Kan.

According to the indictment:

– Washington owned Heritage Financial Investments, Legacy Enterprises, B&L Custom Development and Liberty Escrow. Through his companies, he prepared fraudulent loan applications submitted to lenders throughout the country including Hamilton Mortgage of Phoenix, Ariz; First Magnus of Overland Park, Kan.; Aegis Funding Corporation of Houston, Texas; National City Mortgage of Dayton, Ohio; Mortgage Solutions of Kansas City, Mo.; ABN Amro in Ann Arbor, Mich.; and Countrywide Home Loans in Overland Park, Kan.

– Maurice Ragland owned TERM Appraisers, The Real Estate Group and JTF Enterprises, which created fraudulent property appraisal reports used to secure mortgage loans.

– Bennett was a loan processor for Washington. Robinson-Franks held herself out as a real estate agent and vice president of operations for Heritage Financial Investments and Legacy Enterprises. Cole was chief financial Officer for Legacy Enterprises and Treasurer for Liberty Escrow. Alexander was a licensed mortgage broker who owned Atlantic Mortgage.

According to the indictment, the conspiracy existed from January 2002 through January 2004 for the purpose of enriching the conspirators through obtaining artificially oversized home loans from lenders. Conspirators targeted home buyers with low incomes and limited experience in real estate. They told buyers they could obtain home loans regardless of their credit rating and financial situation.

The conspirators submitted fraudulently inflated real estate appraisals and false financial information to lenders. At or near the time of the closing, the conspirators imposed excessive and unexpected loan origination fees and higher interest rates on borrowers.

The conspirators obtained the identity of licensed appraisers by searching the Internet and appropriating their identifying information and state license numbers. The conspirators also used fictitious identities and license numbers.

Counts in the indictment include:

– Conspiracy to commit mortgage fraud (Washington, Ragland, Bennett, Robinson-Franks, Alexander and Cole.)
– Wire fraud involving a property in the 200 block of Olive, Kansas City, Mo. (Washington, Alexander)
– Wire fraud involving a property in the 4400 block of Virginia, Kansas City, Mo. (Washington, Alexander)
– Wire fraud involving a property in the 500 block of Sharon Drive, Liberty, Mo. (Washington, Ragland, Alexander)
– Wire fraud involving a property in the 4600 block of West 146th Street, Leawood, Kan. (Robinson-Franks, Washington, Alexander, Bennett, Cole)
– Another wire fraud involving a property in the 4600 block of West 146th Street, Leawood, Kan. (Robinson-Franks, Alexander, Washington, Bennett)
– Wire fraud involving a property in the 12400 block of East 58th, Kansas City, Mo. (Washington, Alexander, Robinson-Franks, Cole)
– Another wire fraud involving a property in the 4600 block of West 146th Street (Robinson-Franks, Washington, Alexander, Bennett)
– Money laundering involving a property in the 500 block of Sharon Drive in Liberty, Mo. (Washington, Ragland, Alexander).
– Money laundering involving a property in the 12400 block of East 58th Street, Kansas City, Mo. (Washington, Alexander, Raglan)
– Money laundering involving a property in the 4600 block of 146th Street, Leawood, Kan. (Robinson-Franks, Bennett, Washington)

Upon conviction, the crimes carry the following penalties;

– Conspiracy: A maximum penalty of 5 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000.
– Wire fraud: A maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000 on each count.
– Money laundering: A maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison and a fine up to $500,000.

The Internal Revenue Service– Criminal Investigation, the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department, the Overland Park Police Department, and the U.S. Secret Service’s Financial Crimes Task Force worked on the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Marietta Parker is prosecuting.

SOURCE: Office of the United States Attorney - District of Kansas
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