Advance Fee Scheme Results in Prison Sentence

Rachel Dollar —  June 29, 2016 — Leave a comment

Robert E. O’Connor, 68, Florida, formerly of Beverly, Massachusetts, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard G. Stearns to 29 months in prison, three years of supervised release and was ordered to pay restitution of $627,581, in connection with an fraud scheme involving 75 victims throughout the United States, including many in Massachusetts..  In June 2015, O’Connor pleaded guilty to 13 counts of mail fraud and 15 counts of wire fraud, all in connection with a fraudulent advance fee scheme in which individuals were induced to pay up-front fees to his co-defendant, Ann Ursiny, and her business Trace Financial Group, Inc., based on representations that those individuals would receive real estate loans, when in fact Ursiny never intended to make any such loans.  O’Connor participated in the scheme by recruiting people to apply for loans and pay the advance fees.  O’Connor received a “commission” of $1,000 for each person who paid the advance fees.

O’Connor, who was a self-employed mortgage broker before becoming involved with Ursiny in early 2010, personally solicited approximately 35 people to apply for Ursiny’s nonexistent loans, and also referred a Texas loan broker to Ursiny, which resulted in another 40 people being defrauded.  In total, O’Connor was responsible for about $627,000 in losses out of a total of about $933,000 resulting from Ursiny’s scheme.  Although O’Connor was unaware at the beginning that Ursiny was operating a scam, after several months when none of his clients received the promised funding, O’Connor began lying both to prospective applicants to get their fees and to existing clients to quiet their complaints.  O’Connor told them that some of his clients had in fact received loans from Ursiny or Trace, which he knew was untrue.  He also sent a fabricated letter to clients that purported to be from a satisfied customer claiming to have received financing from Trace, knowing the letter was a fake and that none of his clients ever received any funding from Ursiny/Trace.  In fact, victims’ funds were used for Ursiny’s personal and family expenses, and to pay “commissions” to agents.

In May 2016, Ursiny was sentenced 50 months in prison, to be served consecutive to the 71 month federal prison sentence imposed for a separate fraud scheme she orchestrated in Colorado.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division, made the announcement today. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark J. Balthazard of Ortiz’s Economic Crimes Unit.

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Rachel Dollar

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