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Feds conduct another mortgage fraud crackdown

Posted on June 18, 2010 3:00 AM EST

The federal government is once again attacking the mortgage fraud problem that brought this nation's economy to its knees. A large-scale multi-agency investigation into mortgage fraud netted 86 people in South Florida as part of a nationwide crackdown. The United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida announced that "Operation Stolen Dreams" was a huge success. The defendants arrested are charged with filing for and receiving fraudulent loans in the amount of $76 million. Mortgage and real estate brokers, straw buyers, loan and title processors, as well as, lawyers were arrested. As the federal government continues to investigate and prosecute defendants for mortgage fraud, Miami criminal defense lawyers have their hands full defending clients charged with these types of offenses.

Many of the defendants charged as a result of this operation have entered guilty pleas while others await trial in federal court. United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida announced the results of the mortgage fraud crackdown and said, "The unscrupulous actions of individuals and companies who abuse the financial system and the trust of others for their own financial gain are immoral and illegal." Despite the fact that mortgage fraud is on the decline due to additional safeguards implemented by financial lending institutions, the system of checks and balances still miss a variety of fraudulent schemes used to obtain mortgages illegally.

In one the cases, a Haitian-American defendant put herself out as a person who could assist individuals in obtain loans. As part of her scheme, she obtained the personal information of individuals and used the information to fraudulently purchase various real estate. The defendant would use the personal information to obtain loans and purchase the property. She would then transfer the property to her name using quitclaim deeds. She has been charged for numerous counts of aggravated identity theft. She is scheduled to make her first appearance in court which will be followed by a pre-trial detention hearing. A federal magistrate will review the evidence to determine if and how much of bond will be set in the case.

In another federal case, eleven defendants were arrested for a scheme that defrauded nine financial lending institutions out of approximately $11 million to purchase 15 pieces of property. The defendants in the case included a mortgage broker, real estate broker, straw buyers and a loan processor. Another case netted thirteen defendants including loan officers, straw buyers and a title agent. They are accused of working in concert causing a loss of $9.7. While the facts of each case are different, the schemes being uncovered all follow a similar pattern.

Federal investigators have promised that these are not the last arrests to be made. If you or someone you know is being investigated for or has been arrested in a Miami mortgage fraud scheme, contact a Miami criminal lawyer experienced in defending these types of cases in federal court. To date, "Operation Stolen Dreams" have led to over 1,200 arrests involving more than $2.3 billion in losses.

Steal a Dream? Feds Watching, The Miami Herald, June 18, 2010.
Categories: Fraud