In a warning to real estate professionals, U.S. Attorney for the Western Division of North Carolnia Gretchen Shappert said mortgage fraud has cost Charlotte area lender $64 Million in recent years. According to Shappert, state and federal authorities have successfully prosecuted 28 lenders, mortgage brokers, closing attorneys, appraisers, builders, sales promoters and others in the past three years.
Four major cases have been investigated and prosecuted in recent years:
â€¢ Operation Clean Deed. This case involved eight associated operations that were accused of recruiting buyers, inflating property values and splitting the excess loan proceeds between the participants. The following eleven defendants pleaded guilty in the case: builders Greg Smith and Jim Mann, mortgage broker Lorenza Clark, lawyers Leon Orr Jr. and Jeffrey Hopkins and promoters Gordon George, Kenneth Strong, William Phillips, Bryn Robinson, Don Henderson and Duane Montgomery.
â€¢ Mega Group of Charlotte and Jalen Investment Inc. of Raleigh. The conspirators recruited buyers to invest in new homes. They were accused of falsifying buyer finances on loan documents, inflating home values and promising to provide renters. Five defendants pleaded guilty: promoters Christopher Hines, Eric Crawford and James Bullock, recruiter Joseph Goines and appraiser Amanda Eick. Those convicted were: lawyer S. Allen Patterson and mortgage brokers Nicole Crites and Marvin Keitt.
â€¢ Operation Dirty Deed. The conspirators were accused of recruiting buyers, using inflated appraisals and promising renters that the mortgages would be paid. Two defendants pleaded guilty: promoter Antonio Randolph and lawyer Jeffrey Hopkins.
â€¢ First Beneficial Mortgage. James McLean, who owned First Beneficial, Charlotte, was accused of selling $23 million in false mortgages on the secondary market. McLean was convicted and sentenced to 21 years in prison and his wife, Macy McLean, the company’s vice president, was sentenced to eight years. Five others were convicted or pleaded guilty.