Archives For escrow theft

George Barnard, 45, Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, was indicted and charged with 24 counts of wire fraud, four counts of bank fraud, and three counts of filing a false tax return.  The indictment alleges that Barnard, who from 2005 to March 2013 was one of the two owners of Capital Financial Mortgage Corporation (“CFMC”), based in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, and also was the owner of several title companies, defrauded banks out of almost $13 million dollars and instead of using the money to fund mortgage loans for borrowers and pay off the borrowers’ existing mortgages, he took the money for his personal benefit, including buying yachts, luxury cars, multi-million dollar beach homes in Avalon, New Jersey, and paying the salary of a yacht captain. The indictment further alleges that in order to continue to have access to a large pool of money to fund his extravagant lifestyle, Barnard orchestrated a massive fraud scheme, which included selling other banks the mortgages that CFMC had written and representing to the lenders who purchasing those mortgages that they were first mortgages, when in reality they were worthless second mortgages.

The indictment alleges that while the tax returns Barnard filed with the IRS showed hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses, in reality Barnard had more than $2,300,000 in unreported income, and in order to convince other banks to issue mortgage loans to him so he could purchase yachts and multi-million dollar beach homes, Barnard gave false tax returns to the banks with inflated income figures, and on at least one occasion, told the bank that he was buying the beach home for more than $3,000,000 when in reality the sales price was $2,000,000. The indictment alleges that Barnard was able to conceal this deception by using his own title company to handle the closing of that loan and falsifying closing documents.

The indictment alleged that as a result of Barnard’s actions, lenders suffered losses of more than $12,700,000, and more than 25 borrowers who obtained refinance loans from CFMC were stuck with two mortgages on their homes after Barnard’s companies failed to pay off the borrowers’ existing first mortgages.

Barnard faces a maximum sentence of 669 years’ imprisonment, a five-year period of supervised release, a $12,300,000 fine, a $3,300 special assessment, and a likely advisory sentencing guideline range of 135 – 168 months’ imprisonment.

The indictment was announced by United States Attorney Zane David Memeger. The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigative Division, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael S. Lowe.

Garry Christopher Forsythe, 42, Hendersonville, Tennessee, was sentenced to 33 months in prison to be followed by two years of supervised release and ordered to pay $2,249,294.80 in restitution and to forfeit the proceeds of his crime.

Forysthe pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in December 2015 in connection with a scheme involving escrow funds held by his real estate closing company, Forsythe Title and Escrow. During the sentencing hearing, evidence established that the company’s escrow accounts developed shortages of more than $2.2 million because Forsythe made inflated or unsupported transfers of funds from the escrow accounts to the company’s operating accounts. Testimony during the hearing also established that, contrary to Forsythe’s position, the escrow shortages were not inadvertently caused by the failure to deposit checks or by bank errors. The evidence demonstrated that, in one instance, funds were transferred from an escrow account at Forsythe Title & Escrow and used for the down payment on a boat purchased by Forsythe.  Evidence also demonstrated that the escrow shortages resulted in bounced checks, delays in scheduled real estate closings, and instances in which borrowers were left with two mortgages because Forsythe Title & Escrow failed to pay financial institutions with funds that had been provided for that purpose.

U.S. District Court Judge Aleta A. Trauger imposed the sentence and it was announced by David Rivera, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee.  The case was investigated by the FBI and the IRS-Criminal Investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys William F. Abely and Cecil W. VanDevender.

Nathan E. Hardwick IV, 50, formerly of Atlanta, Georgia, and Asha R. Maurya, 40, Atlanta, Georgia, were indicted on charges of with conspiracy, wire fraud, and related crimes in connection with Hardwick’s alleged theft of over $20 million from the attorney escrow accounts and operating accounts of Morris Hardwick Schneider and LandCastle Title, an Atlanta-based law firm and title agency in which Hardwick and Maurya once served as top executives.  In addition to charges against Maurya for assisting with Hardwick’s theft, the indictment also charges Maurya with stealing approximately $900,000 from the firm’s accounts to pay her own personal expenses. Continue Reading…

George Kalivretenos, 59, Miami Beach, Florida, was sentenced to 84 months in prison for a wire fraud and money laundering scheme in which he defrauded borrowers of approximately $5.6 million. Kalivretenos was also ordered to pay $4.18 million in restitution as part of his sentence.

Kalivrentenos pleaded guilty on August 13, 2015. According to court documents, Kalivretenos operated and controlled Jasmine Capital and Jasmine Resources Capital Group, which were lending entities. He also owned and controlled two escrow companies, Escrow Services, LLC, and Escrow Title Services, LLC. Kalivretenos promised to lend companies and individuals millions of dollars after they sent a deposit of 10 percent of the loan amount to a third party escrow company. However, Kalivretenos concealed his control over the escrow company from borrowers. Once the escrow company received the borrowers’ deposits, Kalivretenos spent borrowers’ funds on personal expenses, including two Rolls Royces, a penthouse condominium rented at $18,000 per month, and hotel stays at the Ritz Carlton and Crowne Plaza. He also transferred substantial funds to overseas accounts. Continue Reading…

After a four-week jury trial, New York State Senator John Sampson was convicted by a federal jury in Brooklyn, New York, for one count of obstruction of justice and two counts of making false statements to federal agents.

The guilty verdicts follow evidence at trial and publicly filed documents establishing that, among other things, Sampson, as an attorney practicing in Brooklyn, New York embezzled funds he held in escrow from the sale of real estate properties. Concerned that his theft might be discovered by law enforcement, in 2006 Sampson asked an associate for $188,500 to replenish the stolen funds. In exchange, Sampson used his position as a Senator to assist the associate’s real estate business interests. Continue Reading…

Richard C. Roney, Jr., 46, former title company owner, Laurel Springs, New Jersey, was charged by information with four counts of wire fraud related to an alleged scheme that cost lenders more than $750,000 and involved escrow theft.

Escrow theft, also known in the industry as escrow defalcation, causes significant and immediate losses to homeowners and lenders. On June 4, 2012, Demotech published a study on this form of fraud entitled Escrow Theft: Today’s Challenge in Title Insurance.  The Study examined the relationship between strong state regulations and escrow theft and concluded, unsurprisingly, that when states that adopted strong licensing requirements, strict oversight and financial responsibility regulations regarding escrow agents, escrow theft loss ratios were lower.  Continue Reading…