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South florida woman charged with mortgage fraud

Posted on May 13, 2010 12:00 AM EST

Federal investigators believe they have captured and charged a ring leader of statewide mortgage fraud scheme. Several of her co-conspirators have already entered guilty pleas or went to trial in both state and federal court. Yvette Valdes, a former Homestead mortgage broker, was indicted for falsifying mortgage application, lying to financial lending institutions and keeping the fraudulently obtained money for her own use and benefit. Court papers indicate that she fraudulently obtained money for two properties located in Southwest Miami-Dade County. She appeared in federal court with her criminal defense lawyer. Valdez if formally charged with three counts of wire fraud and is facing up to 30 years in prison.

Valdes was allegedly linked to a banker from New York named Orson Benn. Benn was convicted in 2008 in Polk County for his involvement in multi-million mortgage fraud scheme. He was tried in state court by the statewide prosecutor's office. A jury convicted Benn on racketeering charges and he was sentenced to 18 years in prison. Valdes is accused of brokering in excess of $22 million in loans over a 16 month period for Benn. The majority of the mortgage applications contained fraudulent or misleading information. Like most mortgage fraud cases, the documents inflated buyer's incomes and falsifying employment records. Many of the buyers were family members.

Other family members involved are her daughter, her brother and son-in-law. All three worked at her mortgage broker company called Best Choice Mortgage. All three were charged in federal court along with the owner of a title company purportedly involved in the Miami mortgage fraud scheme. The indictment alleges that all of the defendants were involved in one fashion or another in supplying false information to JP Morgan Chase Bank. The bank provided in excess of $500,000 to fund the purpose of two properties. The prosecution alleges that the funds were used for their personal benefit.

Valdez first became a suspect in 2005, but state regulators never pursued a criminal case against her. Mortgage fraud investigations sometimes take years to reach a courtroom. Mortgage fraud investigators take their time collecting documents and speaking to witnesses prior to bringing the evidence to state or federal prosecutors. Once the prosecution has been presented the evidence, they look at everything before filing charges. The federal government and the statewide prosecutors have created specialized mortgage fraud units to handle the cases. Despite the specialized units, the vast amount of mortgage fraud cases being prosecuted in Miami and South Florida also cause a delay in the bringing of charges.

Because of the media attention and problems that mortgage fraud has caused the economy, state and federal budgets have allowed for large amounts of money and manpower to prosecute mortgage fraud cases. While indictments are being brought weekly, the number of cases is sure to slow down as the banks have tightened up their lending policies. If someone is being investigated for or has arrested for being involved in a mortgage fraud scheme, it is imperative to seek the advice from a criminal law firm that practices mortgage fraud defense both in state or federal court.

Homestead Mortgage Broker Charged with Fraud, The Miami Herald, May 11, 2010.
Categories: Fraud