Eleven from Florida Charged in Mortgage Fraud Scheme

admin —  March 31, 2009 — 4 Comments

Eleven defendants have been indicted for a mortgage fraud scheme that resulted in the issuance of thirteen fraudulent mortgage loans, totaling approximately $4,728,000: Those indicted were:

Juan A. Garcia, Miami, Florida; 

Yenisley Acosta, Miami, Florida; 

Juan J. Garcia, Hialeah, Florida; 

Omar Alfonso, Hialeah Gardens, Florida; 

Yurima Espinosa, Miami, Florida; 

Yolanda Gomez, Hialeah Gardens, Florida; 

Ulises Avila, Miami, Florida; 

Luis Cordero, Miami, Florida; 

Julissa Amaral, Miami, Florida; 

Roberto Portilla, Miami, Florida; and

Eugenio Garcia, Miami, Florida.

Ten of the eleven defendants were arrested on Thursday, March 26, 2009 and had their initial appearances on Thursday and Friday, March 26 and 27, 2009. Defendant Julissa Amaral remains at large.

According to the twenty-four count Indictment, from August 2004 to September 2008, defendants Juan A. Garcia and Yenisley Acosta orchestrated 13 fraudulent residential sales involving six different properties in South Florida. Defendant Garcia and his co-conspirators recruited individuals to pose as actual buyers in the 13 transactions. These individuals, known as “straw buyers,” applied for loans using false information in their loan applications regarding employment, income, deposits and intent to occupy the property as a primary residence.

The Indictment alleges that at the closing of the 13 residential sales, defendants Garcia and Acosta paid the closing costs of the straw buyers, without reflecting these payments on the HUD-1 settlement statements. Thereafter, the conspirators would re-sell the properties to other straw buyers, each time significantly increasing the price of the properties. The multiple flip transactions were conducted in the same manner: the straw buyers applied for loan proceeds from lenders using false personal and financial information, and received a fee from defendants Juan A. Garcia and Yenisley Acosta. Juan A. Garcia and Yenisley Acosta would then divert the sale proceeds for their personal use. The straw buyers never lived in the property and never paid any closing costs or mortgage payments.

Several of the purchases were financed through FHA loans. One of the conditions of an FHA loan is that the buyer make a 3% equity investment in the home and that money, while it can be borrowed, cannot be obtained from the seller of the property. According to the Indictment, in certain of the thirteen residential property sales, defendants signed an Addendum to the HUD-1 settlement statement expressly certifying that, as seller, they were not in fact financing the buyer’s closing contributions, which was false. This addendum was sent to HUD by UPS as part of process of receiving FHA approval to guarantee the loans.

Once the loans were closed, five of the six properties went into foreclosure. As a guarantor of certain of the loans, HUD was required to take title to the property and reimburse the banks for their losses. The approximate aggregate losses related to the six properties is approximately $1,600,000.

The Indictment includes charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, substantive wire fraud, false statements to a federal agency, and false statements to HUD for the purpose of obtaining guaranteed commercial mortgage loans. The wire fraud offenses carry a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment. The false statement charges carry a statutory maximum sentence of 5 years’ imprisonment for those alleging false statements to an agency within the Executive Branch and 2 years’ imprisonment for those alleging false statements to HUD.

This case was investigated by agencies participating in the Federal-State Mortgage Fraud Strike Force. R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida commended the investigative efforts of the Mortgage Fraud Strike Force with particular commendation to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter A. Forand.

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4 responses to Eleven from Florida Charged in Mortgage Fraud Scheme

  1. This type of fraud divides communities and disrupts the economic structure in a given neighborhood. We (floridians) all suffer at the hands of greedy people like this who act like they didn’t do anything wrong. Just signed a paper and they were duped. Meanwhile they are cashing checks for upwards of $25K-$50K while the rest of the neighborhood property is overvalued and working folks can’t pay their mortgage. These types of crimes are nearly impossible to unravel the effects on the property values of other homes in the community. They should face AT LEAST ten years prison each for their participation in such a devastating crime!

  2. Raymond, try and us UCC Article 9 Section 210(d) This will let the servicer know that you are entitled to know who owns your note. I believe that that majority were securitized and therefore your note is lost in an asset based trust. Once you identify the trust, you then obtain their pooling and services agreement.

    Within that agreement is a “credit enhancement” or insurance clause that makes the investor into this trust assured of the payments. When the loan goes into default insurance kicks in. (AIG). Now, if that is your case the ONLY person damaged is either the investor or the insurance provider.

    But, banks step up to the plate and have their hands out, looking for more money from the proceeds of a foreclosure sale when they have no skin in the game.

    In your case, you have to find the location of the note. This can only be done by using those laws that exist to help you.

    Hope this is a start for you

    Regis Sauger

  3. I have been “stonewalled” now for almost two years by Gulf Coast Bank & Trust, New Orleans…even after proving that my appraisal of a home in Cape Coral, Fl. was overvalued by as much as 40%. The Attorney for the Fl. Dept. of Business & Professional Relations has filed 18 ethical & professions violations, plus 9 counts of malfeasence, each of which carries a $5,000.00 fine, payable to the State of FL.
    The lender has gone into bankruptcy. After receivership by the F.D.I.C., and the loans are now serviced by Gulf Street Bank & Trust in New Orleans. How can I get Gulf Street Bank & Trust to respond in a timely manner? The first lender did not respond for a year, prior to bankruptcy. Now, the second lender, Gulf Trust Bank & Trust, is also failing to respond with a solution.
    Mr. Lockhart, Director, Federal Housing Finance Agency, has been quoted in BusinessWeek as saying: “if a loan has a tainted appraisal, then the lender should buy back that loan.” Surely, 27 violations & counts do add up to a “tainted appraisal”.
    Thanks for passing this information and these comments on to others, thus letting the banks know that they can no longer get away with “stone-walling”.

  4. As a certified appraiser, this is always good news to me. Thanks.

    Kent Faver

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