Straw Buyer Convicted for Occupancy Fraud

Rachel Dollar —  February 25, 2016 — Leave a comment

Felicia Muhammad, 45, Lakewood, California was found guilty of five felony charges for lying to banks that funded mortgages for three properties that later went into default, causing about $660,000 in losses to the lenders.  Muhammad was a licensed real estate broker living in Long Beach, California at the time of the conduct.  She was convicted of five counts of making false statements to federally-insured financial institutions, specifically U.S. Bank, Countrywide Bank, and First Horizon Home Loans (a subsidiary of First Tennessee Bank).

According to the evidence at trial, in the summer of 2008, Muhammad applied for three loans so she could purchase condominium units in North Hollywood, California, and Canoga Park, California. The total value of the loans was more than $1.1 million.

In each loan application and in two occupancy certifications, Muhammad falsely stated that each condo would be her primary residence, even though she never intended to live in any of the condos.

Once the loans were funded and the purchased were completed, the titles to the properties were transferred to a trust administered by Muhammad’s former landlord, who had asked her to purchase the properties with her good credit. In exchange for purchasing the properties, Muhammad received $18,000.

After the properties were transferred to the trust, all three loans defaulted, all three condos went into foreclosure, and the three lenders lost a total of $662,000.

United States Michael W. Fitzgerald, who presided over a four-day trial, is scheduled to sentence Muhammad on June 6, 2016 at which time she will face a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison.

This defendant lied to three different financial institutions, causing significant losses to all of them,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “The Department of Justice will continue to hold accountable those who would commit mortgage fraud and place U.S. financial institutions at risk.”

The case against Muhammad was the result of an investigation by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of the Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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Rachel Dollar

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