Orlando Mortgage Investigation Nets Real Estate Agents

  • 15 years ago
  • Uncategorized
Realtors in Florida Orlando have been subject to an unprecedented mortgage sting conducted by the US Attorneys Office. The mortgage sting operation has resulted in 100 people facing charges involving mortgage fraud. The allegations involve more than 700 properties and more than $400 million in loans procured by fraud.
The investigation was a result of suspected large scale mortgage fraud in Florida; prosecutors have spent the last nine months building cases against Realtors, brokers and other industry professionals.
Cases that the investigation targeted included fraudulent property flipping. Fraudulent flipping occurs when someone purchases property falsely appraised at a higher value and quickly sells it, profiting from the false appraisal. These schemes also involve doctored loan documentation, and kickbacks to investors, appraisers, title agents and brokers.

Mortgage loans applied for with Fictitious/stolen identity and Nominee loans/straw buyers. Straw-buyer fraud occurs when a person conceals his or her identity through the use of someone else, and, often relying on the other person’s better credit, applies for a loan he or she otherwise could not have obtained. Both the buyer and the “nominee” are committing fraud

“Florida is ground zero for mortgage fraud,” U.S. Attorney Brian Albritton said at a news conference in Orlando.

Nearly 20 defendants are being prosecuted in the Orlando district. The total loan amounts involved in those cases is more than $38 million, and the number properties involved is nearly 140.

Two of the people charged in Orlando are former employees of the beleaguered Taylor, Bean & Whitaker Mortgage Corp.: Victor Cedeno and Richard Nanan.

Cedeno, who is on the run, is accused of diverting more than $1.5 million in company funds to his personal accounts through a short-sale scheme. He faces more than two dozen charges, including money laundering.

Nanan was indicted on one charge and surrendered to authorities. Cedeno’s girlfriend, Genesis Valdez, was also indicted and has not been caught.

The FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office devoted “significant” personnel and resources to investigate the mortgage-fraud cases during the sting. Countless other federal, state and local agencies were also involved, including the IRS and U.S. Secret Service.

Nationwide, the FBI logged more than 1,600 mortgage-fraud investigations last year. That’s a 100 percent increase in such investigations since 2006, according to figures released by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said estimates show one in 10 residential-loan applications contains some sort of misrepresentation.

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Source Orlando Sentinel

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