Jay Berger, 54, mortgage broker, settlement agent and title agent, was charged by Information in connection with his alleged involvement in a real estate closing scheme that defrauded title companies and lenders in excess of $4.6 million dollars. Also charged in a separate Information was Margaret Carole Fisher, 53.
According to the Information , Berger would not pay off existing mortgages after settlements, but would instead keep those funds for himself. Berger diverted funds intended to pay off the existing mortgage to a bank account he controlled, after which he would usually send a change of address request to the holder of the client’s existing mortgage, instructing the holder of the existing mortgage to forward all correspondence either to Berger’s office or to a post office box controlled by Berger.
Berger then, in most instances, made at least some payments on the client’s existing mortgage in order to prevent immediate foreclosure. If a homeowner discovered at a later date that an existing mortgage had not been paid off, Berger would usually falsely tell the homeowner that there had been some type of misunderstanding or clerical error, and that he would take care of the problem.
According to the Information, Berger owned United Mortgage Service Company, a mortgage broker, and Imperial Abstract and Settlement Company, a title insurance agency. He also worked with United Settlement Services, a title agency owned by his wife. All three of these companies are located in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania. Fisher worked on mortgage transactions at all of these companies.
Fisher, who was charged in a separate Information, is alleged to have participated in a scheme to defraud homeowners, finance companies and title insurance companies of $459,864.66. According to that Information, an individual working with Fisher kept the money intended to pay off prior mortgages for himself, and made at least $70,000 in “loans” to Fisher which he knew were unlikely to be repaid.
Berger is alleged to have devised a scheme that defrauded Washington Mutual Bank, GE Capital Mortgage Services, Associates Home Equity Services, Inc., Chase Manhattan Mortgage, Wendover Financial Services, Fairbanks Capital Corporation, Countrywide Home Loans, Equicredit, Wells Fargo, Irwin Mortgage Corporation, EMC Mortgage Corporation, Option One Mortgage, US Bank, Pennsylvania Business Bank, WMC, Litton Loan Servicing, and GMAC Mortgage Corporation, and title insurance companies Fidelity National Title Insurance Company of New York and Stewart Title Guarantee Corporation.