Underwriter Sentenced in $24M Mortgage Fraud Case

Allison Tussey —  June 3, 2014 — 4 Comments

Michelle Vinas, 55, Florida, who was convicted of financial institution fraud affecting M&T Bank, was sentenced to 18 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution totaling $423,434.98 by U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Arcara, for her role in approving fraudulent loans.

As previously reported by Mortgage Fraud Blog, Vinas was an employee of the Federal Guaranty Mortgage Company based in Florida, and was responsible for the underwriting of loans which included complete review of loan applications, including supporting documentation and verification of information placed on loan applications. According to the charges, once the underwriting was completed by the defendant, the loan files were submitted to financial institutions for funding.

In just one instance which exemplified the fraud, the defendant was provided information to include on a loan application for 1081 SW 156th Avenue, Pembroke Pines, Florida. The information stated that an individual had a monthly income of $21,000 and had in excess of $800,000 on deposit at a financial institution but Vinas knew that information was false. The defendant nevertheless approved the loan application as the underwriter which allowed the loan to be funded.

As a result of the defendant’s actions, M&T Bank was one of nine financial institutions to suffer a loss and specifically suffered a loss of $4,407,515.48. The parties estimated that the total fraud scheme amounted to approximately $24,000,000.

Vinas pled guilty to the charges on December 12, 2011.

Frank Garcia, the owner of Federal Guaranty Mortgage Company, has also been convicted in this case and is awaiting sentencing.

The sentencing is the culmination of an investigation on the part of Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced the sentence.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Trini E. Ross handled the case.

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Allison Tussey

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4 responses to Underwriter Sentenced in $24M Mortgage Fraud Case

  1. Thank you all. She is my mother and he had bullied her for years and she always stood her ground. He already “let her go” once before, which I always thought was because of her unwillingness to participate. So after she was unemployed for over a year, and the market was in a slight upswing, he hired her back on. She worked there again maybe a year before the bullying started again and she knew what the consequence was if she said “No.” She takes full responsibility, knowing it was wrong, but what could she do?

  2. Underwriters get bullied by their customers (brokers and agents) AND their superiors. It’s a no-win situation.

  3. We need a union. Additionally, since we represent FHA in most cases, we should be HUD employees that unscrupulous employers cannot fire at will, and if they simply cannot work with us standing our ground, then hud should be pulling bullying workplaces delegated unconditional approval! Thats how strongly underwriters feel about industry abuses.

  4. Wow, I am an underwriter, and it is hard to “stand your ground” with brokers and lenders, but I do. This is a good reference for me in the future.

    There should be a site where underwriters can advise the governing agencies of being harassed to make bad decisions. The management’s reaction to standing your ground in some cases is downright bullying.

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