Maryland Announces Results of Operation Stolen Dreams

Allison Tussey —  June 18, 2010 — Leave a comment

Douglas Skibicki, 41, Bethesda, Maryland, was charged in a superseding indictment on June 16, 2010, with mail and wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and bankruptcy fraud, in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme in which he allegedly defrauded lenders, family and others of over $7.4 million. According to the 17 count superseding indictment, Skibicki was a mortgage originator and/or broker for a company which operated in Laurel, Maryland. From June 2005 through August 2009, Skibicki, with the assistance of an appraiser and others, allegedly participated in a scheme to defraud the victims of over $7.4 million through a series of real estate transactions. Skibicki was released after his arrest upon condition that he is prohibited from working in the financial services industry while awaiting trial.

Dema Daiga, 28, College Park, Maryland, and Olu Campbell, formerly known as Oluseun Oshosanya, 29, Laurel, Maryland, were convicted on June 10, 2010, of numerous counts of wire fraud. According to trial testimony, from August to December 16, 2008, Daiga and Campbell used two straw purchasers and the stolen identifiers of four other individuals to purchase six Baltimore properties – five of which quickly went into default, resulting in a loss to a Beltsville mortgage lending company of approximately $664,493. Daiga was also convicted of two counts of aggravated identity theft in connection with the scheme. According to trial testimony, Daiga worked as a mortgage loan broker and assisted with property appraisals, and Campbell also worked in the mortgage lending field. The defendants are scheduled to be sentenced on August 27, 2010.

David Wehrs Sr., 55, owned Maryland Title and Escrow Company, Inc., and operated a small home remodeling company called Show-Me. On May 19, 2010, the Annapolis, Maryland mortgage broker was sentenced to three years in prison for defrauding home buyers and investors of $2.3 million in order to day trade and to pay personal and business expenses. According to his plea agreement, from 2007 to October 2009, Wehrs induced individuals to invest money through Maryland Title into a purported FDIC-insured money market fund that Wehrs “guaranteed” would pay monthly interest payments of 10.85%. Instead of depositing the money into a market fund, Wehrs deposited investor funds into one of two bank accounts he controlled in the name of his title company. Wehrs used the money to “day trade.” Day trading is the rapid buying and selling of securities throughout the day in the hope that the stocks will continue climbing or falling in value for the seconds to minutes that they are owned, allowing a person to lock in quick profits. During the scheme, Wehrs conducted millions of dollars of stock trades per month. From early 2008 until mid-2009, Wehrs lost approximately $1 million in day trading. Wehrs also used some of the investor funds to: pay “monthly interest” and “redemptions” to other investors; pay expenses of his other businesses, including Show-Me; make escrow payments for his title company; buy real estate and personal property; and pay other personal expenses.

Melva Massey, 39, Waldorf, Maryland, her husband D’Von Massey, 37, Waldorf, Maryland, pleaded guilty in May 2010, to lying to banks to obtain over $1.2 million in home mortgage loans in just three months, from June to September 2007. The couple and others submitted three mortgage applications for three properties in Washington, D.C. to different banks which falsely stated: each property was to be the Masseys‘ primary residence; the Masseys had substantial rental income; another individual rented other property owned by the Masseys; and that individual had provided Melva Massey a cashier’s check for a security deposit on the rental property. The three banks approved the mortgage loans in the total amount of $1,205,267. Each of the three properties went into foreclosure or short sale, resulting in a total loss to the banks of $859,190. The Masseys are scheduled to be sentenced in September, 2010.

On April 8, 2010, Lynzi Richardson was charged by criminal complaint with assisting D’Von and Melva Massey in lying to banks to obtain over $1.2 million in home mortgage loans in just three months, from June to September 2007. The criminal complaint alleges that Richardson knowingly processed false loan applications on behalf of the Masseys containing false information about, among other things, the Massey‘s income and their intent to use the referenced homes as their primary residence. This matter is pending, and the filing of a complaint is not a finding of guilt.

Olusola Idowu, 57, Hagerstown, Maryland, was convicted by a federal jury for fraudulently obtaining over $1.1 million in loans for her residence and bankruptcy fraud. Idowu was the owner and president of SSS Nutrition & Dietetic Care Services. SSS Nutrition was a health care services company specializing in the “Optifast” weight management program. According to testimony at her five day trial, between November 2003 and December 2008, Idowu falsely represented to financial companies that her son was employed as a nutritionist at SSS Nutrition and falsely representend his earnings and assets, in order to obtain mortgages and loans and lied to, and concealed information from, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in relation to her Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition. Idowu is scheduled to be sentenced in August.

Rolando Alonzo Cousins, a/k/a “Junior,” 32, Bowie, Maryland, a senior loan officer at Metropolitan Money Store, was indicted on March 8, 2010, for conspiracy to commit mail fraud, mail fraud and money laundering, in connection with the massive mortgage fraud scheme which promised to help homeowners facing foreclosure keep their homes and repair their damaged credit, but left them homeless and with no equity. The 11 count indictment alleges that Cousins, Joy Jackson, Jennifer McCall and others: paid approximately $10,000 to each of the straw buyers to participate in the scheme; fraudulently bolstered the credit of the straw buyers so they could qualify for more favorable mortgages; obtained fraudulently inflated loans on the properties in the straw buyers names; served as straw buyers themselves; stripped away the bulk of the homeowners equity proceeds and converted that money to their own personal use; and stopped making the mortgage payments on the homes, resulting in the homes being foreclosed upon.

The indictment seeks the forfeiture of $1.5 million, alleged to be Cousins‘ proceeds from the scheme.

An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.

Joy Jackson and Jennifer McCall pleaded guilty to their role in the scheme and were sentenced to 151 months in prison and 135 months in prison, respectively. Nine other co-conspirators also pleaded guilty and were sentenced.

In addition to the above federal cases, there were significant developments in cases brought by state and local agencies that are members of the Maryland Mortgage Fraud Task Force, including:

State v. Katherine Ting Tiong , Montgomery County Circuit Court. This criminal case was brought by the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office. Tiong is a licensed real estate agent in Maryland. She is alleged to have used family members as straw-purchasers to fraudulently purchase a home at below market prices through the Montgomery County Moderately Priced Dwelling Unit (MPDU) program. The fraud scheme allegedly included mortgage fraud as well as fraud against the government MPDU program. The home purchase allegedly was financed through a fraudulently obtained mortgage. Tiong then allegedly rented the property to third-parties in violation of MPDU program regulations and received the rental income for her personal benefit. It is also alleged that Tiong later refinanced the property through a fraudulent loan application and also fraudulently obtained a HELOC loan to strip the property of equity. An indictment was filed in this case on March 18, 2010. Trial is pending. An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.

Maryland Office of the Attorney General, Consumer Protection Division v. Metropolitan Money Store and Briane Barbour, Prince George’s County Circuit Court. In a civil case related to the federal Metropolitan Money Store prosecution described above, a judgment was entered against Barbour on March 15, 2010, ordering injunctive relief and entering a monetary judgment of $362,872.67.

The Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office, in conjunction with the Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation Financial Regulation, brought the following cases:

Latoya Calder was indicted on mortgage fraud; multiple counts of felony theft from homeowner victims and against a mortgage lender without a lense and conspiracy. She worked as a mortgage originator for a Virginia-based brokerage and was subsequently fired from her position on account of the alleged mortgage fraud. After she was fired, she allegedly broke into her broker’s software system, stole the user name and password of another mortgage originator and commenced to broker deals through the company under someone else’s name. As a result of her alleged illegal activities, she secured multiple loans from the lender and collected illegal fees for loan consulting. Her former employee never received any of the money from the brokered deals because Calder and her co-conspirators allegedly circumvented the intended funds to their shell companies.

Stephan Baker was indicted on mortgage fraud, multiple counts of felony theft from homeowner victims and against a national lender, counterfeiting, identity theft, multiple counts of operating as a mortgage lender without a license and various conspiracy counts. The scheme involved charging phony pest inspection fees. Although he was a licensed pest inspector, he allegedly never provided pest inspections to his victims, but charged them up to $2,000. He also further allegedly perpetrated his fraud by receiving processing fees on the HUD One form. The processing fees were intended for the brokerage firm that his co-conspirator worked for.

An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.

Defendant Johnson Olawoyin pleaded guilty to operating as a mortgage lender without a license, theft operating as a bredit business service wihtout a license. Penalty: 11 months suspended: 364 days supervised probation with special condition of restitution in amount of $26,000. $10,000 due at sentencing; the remaining $16,000 is due 90 days after sentencing.

Sentencing is scheduled for July 15, 2010. The victims will be present to receive their first restitution payment.

The Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing & Regulation, Office of the Commissioner of Financial Regulation (with the Office of the Maryland Attorney General acting as counsel), issued orders to cease and desist against the following individuals and businesses, totaling 45 defendants/respondents and a total amount of judgments/final orders (including both orders for fines/penalties and orders for restitution) of $1,298,973.67:

Apply 2 Save, Inc., Derek Oberholtzer, and Trapper Fishbeck: Illegal loan modification activities, including collecting up-front fees from Maryland consumers and engaging in unlicensed credit services business activities. A final order to cease and desist was issued on April 30, 2010, which included an order to permanently cease and desist from engaging in loan modification, loss mitigation, or other similar activities with Maryland consumers, an order to pay a monetary penalty of $409,000, and an order to pay restitution to 204 Maryland consumer victims totaling $306,000.

Marc Cox: Respondent engaged in unlicensed mortgage origination activity after his mortgage lender license had been revoked, and he collected improper finder’s fees. Final order issued on 5/12/2010: includes an order to permanently cease and desist from engaging in mortgage lending and mortgage origination activities with Maryland residents, an order to pay civil penalties of $28,000, and an order to pay restitution of $6,000.

William W. Bruner IV: Respondent’s actions during the mortgage lending process constituted fraud and resulted in the theft of money from a client. A final order was issued on May 20, 2010, which included an order to permanently cease and desist from engaging in mortgage lending, brokering, or origination activities with Maryland residents, an order to pay a monetary penalty of $11,000, and an order to pay restitution of $5,000.

David S. Stepney: Illegal loan modification activities, including collecting up-front fees from Maryland consumers and engaging in unlicensed credit services business activities. A Final Order to Cease and Desist was issued on May 5, 2010, which included an order to permanently cease and desist from engaging in loan modification, loss mitigation, or other similar activities with Maryland consumers, an order to pay a monetary penalty of $5,000, and an order to pay restitution of $10,000.

First Choice Loan Solutions, LLC and Douglas S. Skibicki: Illegal loan modification activities, including collecting up-front fees from Maryland consumers and engaging in unlicensed credit services business activities. A Final Order to Cease and Desist was issued on May 5, 2010, which included an order to permanently cease and desist from engaging in loan modification, loss mitigation, or other similar activities with Maryland consumers, an order to pay a monetary penalty of $2,000, and an order to pay restitution of $9,750. This matter related to the federal criminal prosecution of Douglas Skibicki described above.

The Home Savers, National Pacific Mortgage, Inc., Jason Ritchie, and Skip Cronin: Illegal loan modification activities, including collecting up-front fees from Maryland consumers and engaging in unlicensed credit services business activities. A Final Order to Cease and Desist was issued on May 5, 2010, which included an order to permanently cease and desist from engaging in loan modification, loss mitigation, or other similar activities with Maryland consumers, an order to pay a monetary penalty of $3,000, and an order to pay restitution of $9,300.

21st Century Legal Services, Inc., Fidelity National Legal Services Inc., Transitional Corporation of America, Inc., Andrea Ramirez, and Kathy Deleon: Illegal loan modification activities, including collecting up-front fees from Maryland consumers and engaging in unlicensed credit services business activities. A Final Order to Cease and Desist was issued on May 6, 2010, which included an order to permanently cease and desist from engaging in loan modification, loss mitigation, or other similar activities with Maryland consumers, an order to pay a monetary penalty of $9,000, and an order to pay restitution to Maryland consumer victims totaling $28,734.

US Homeowners Assistance, Fredy Quesada, Marjorie Jorgensen, Sandy Hernandez, Joe Diaz, and Mastura Sheren: Illegal loan modification activities, including collecting up-front fees from Maryland consumers and engaging in unlicensed credit services business activities. A Final Order to Cease and Desist was issued on May 6, 2010, which included an order to permanently cease and desist from engaging in loan modification, loss mitigation, or other similar activities with Maryland consumers, an order to pay a monetary penalty of $3,000, and an order to pay restitution of $7,200.

American Home Solutions Group LLC, Dante Marquez, Jeff George, and Andrea Olavarria: Illegal loan modification activities, including collecting up-front fees from Maryland consumers and engaging in unlicensed credit services business activities. A Final Order to Cease and Desist was issued on May 12, 2010, which included an order to permanently cease and desist from engaging in loan modification, loss mitigation, or other similar activities with Maryland consumers, an order to pay a monetary penalty of $3,000, and an order to pay restitution of $4,500.

Fintech Services, Inc. a/k/a Fintech Loan Modification Services, Michael C. Mali, and Andrew Cappello a/k/a Andrew Capello: Illegal loan modification activities, including collecting up-front fees from Maryland consumers and engaging in unlicensed credit services business activities. A Final Order to Cease and Desist was issued on May 13, 2010, which included an order to permanently cease and desist from engaging in loan modification, loss mitigation, or other similar activities with Maryland consumers, an order to pay a monetary penalty of $3,000, and an order to pay restitution of $6,000.

The Selig Law Group, P.C., Save My Home, Krista Selig, Chris Fasullo, William Soto, and Cheryl Johnson: Illegal loan modification activities, including collecting up-front fees from Maryland consumers and engaging in unlicensed credit services business activities. A Final Order to Cease and Desist was issued on May 13, 2010, which included an order to permanently cease and desist from engaging in loan modification, loss mitigation, or other similar activities with Maryland consumers, an order to pay a monetary penalty of $5,000, and an order to pay restitution of $12,600.

Amerimod, Inc. a/k/a American Modification Agency, Salvatore Pane, Jr., Andrew P. Daniels, Efrain Roman, and Matthew Crosta: Illegal loan modification activities, including collecting up-front fees from Maryland consumers and engaging in unlicensed credit services business activities. A Final Order to Cease and Desist was issued on May 13, 2010, which included an order to permanently cease and desist from engaging in loan modification, loss mitigation, or other similar activities with Maryland consumers, an order to pay a monetary penalty of $7,000, and an order to pay restitution to Maryland consumer victims totaling $35,517.

Pinnacle Financial Solutions Inc., and Ryan Zimmerman: Illegal loan modification activities, including collecting up-front fees from Maryland consumers and engaging in unlicensed credit services business activities. A Final Order to Cease and Desist was issued on May 13, 2010, which included an order to permanently cease and desist from engaging in loan modification, loss mitigation, or other similar activities with Maryland consumers, an order to pay a monetary penalty of $3,000, and an order to pay restitution of $4,500.

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Allison Tussey

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