Man Sentenced for Straw Buyer Scam

Allison Tussey —  January 21, 2011 — Leave a comment

Robert Dewain Venson, 38, Fort Washington, Maryland, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Alexander Williams, Jr., to 10 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release for mail and wire fraud, money laundering and failing to file tax returns in connection with a three year mortgage fraud scheme involving at least a dozen residential properties. Judge Williams also ordered Venson to pay restitution of $2,060,021.76 and to forfeit $892,368, his proceeds from the scheme.

According to evidence presented at his two week trial, from 2004 to 2007, Venson negotiated the purchase of at least a dozen residential properties in Maryland and the District of Columbia, including houses in Hyattsville, Ocean City, Fort Washington and Salisbury, Maryland. Rather than purchase the properties in his own name, the evidence proved that Venson paid straw buyers to appear at the settlements posing as the buyers. Witnesses testified that Venson typically would represent to the straw buyer that he would pay the loan obligation. Venson inflated the price listed on the sales documents to an amount substantially larger than the actual price, causing the mortgage lender to provide funds for the purchase substantially in excess of the actual price. Venson misrepresented and concealed the true purchase price, his arrangement with the straw buyer and other information from the mortgage lender. Under this scheme, the trial evidence showed that Venson reaped $892,368 from the scheme.

Venson also failed to file individual federal income tax returns for 2004, 2005 and 2006 during the period of the scheme.

Venson has been detained since his conviction.

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Assistant Director in Charge Shawn Henry of the Federal Bureau of Investigation – Washington Field Office; Special Agent in Charge Rebecca Sparkman of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, Washington D.C. Field Office; and Acting Postal Inspector in Charge Keith A. Fixel of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service – Washington Division.

“This lengthy sentence sends a powerful message that people who commit mortgage fraud will be held accountable,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein.

“IRS-Criminal Investigation special agents work diligently to identify and bring to prosecution those who fail to meet their tax obligations,” stated Rebecca Sparkman, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge, Washington DC Field Office. “We work together with other federal law enforcement agencies to follow the money to financially disrupt criminal activities such as Mr. Venson’s money laundering scheme.”

The Maryland Mortgage Fraud Task Force was established to unify the agencies that regulate and investigate mortgage fraud and promote the early detection, identification, prevention and prosecution of mortgage fraud schemes. This case, as well as other cases brought by members of the Task Force, demonstrates the commitment of law enforcement agencies to protect consumers from fraud and promote the integrity of the credit markets. Information about mortgage fraud prosecutions is available http://www.justice.gov/usao/md/Mortgage-Fraud/index.html.

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Allison Tussey

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