Archives For false liens

Stevie McDonald, 41, Winter Haven, Florida has pleaded guilty to making false statements in a mortgage loan application. He faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

According to court documents, on November 10, 2007, McDonald entered into a contract to purchase a home in Port Richey, Florida. He then applied for a mortgage loan from Washington Mutual Bank. In the loan documents that he signed and submitted to the bank, McDonald made false statements about his income and his employment. In December 2007, during the course of the closing on the property purchase, Washington Mutual paid more than $35,000 to a woman McDonald knew and later married. This payment was purportedly a satisfaction of an existing lien on the sale property. Subsequent investigation revealed that no such lien existed. Washington Mutual Bank suffered a financial loss as a consequence of McDonald’s default on this loan.

United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III made the announcement.  The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jay L. Hoffer.

Rodney Taylor, 51, Las Vegas, Nevada, pleaded guilty to two counts of false representation concerning title. Taylor participated in a scheme to claim liens on real estate in Las Vegas, Nevada by filing false documents. The fraudulent acts were committed between March and September 2012.

In addition to claiming non-existent liens on property, Taylor was also accused of filing false claims of ownership for real estate with the county recorder’s office. After filing these claims, Taylor applied for and received public funds from the Southern Nevada Housing Authority in exchange for renting to Section 8 tenants. The state is seeking restitution of over $45,000 for victimized individuals and state agencies.

Fraudulent real estate claims have a devastating impact on Nevada families and their homes,” said Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt. “Prosecutors in my office will continue to ensure that those who attempt to defraud the public receive justice.”

False representation concerning title is punishable by up to five years of imprisonment and a fine of no more than $10,000. The sentencing hearing for Taylor is scheduled for February 11, 2016, in the Eighth Judicial District Court.

The investigation of this case was a collaborative effort between the Attorney General’s Fraud Unit, the City of North Las Vegas and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Deputy Attorney General Daniel Westmeyer prosecuted this case.

If you are involved in fraud detection and prevention in the mortgage industry or have attended an event where I have spoken over the past few years, you are no doubt aware that the Sovereign Citizen movement has been targeting the mortgage industry.  The one most prominent in my mind is, of course, the Dorean Group.  Its ringleaders, Scott Heineman and Kurt Johnson were a were a frequent topic on the blog during 2005 and through their trial, sentencings and appeals.  Although Sovereign Citizens at times become engaged in mortgage fraud because of certain beliefs concerning the history of our currency and a misreading of the law, their impact and involvement in the mortgage industry is tangential to their ideology – which is grounded in conspiracy theory.  In 2013, I wrote an article entitled Fraud From the Fringe – the Sovereign Citizen Movement and the Rise of Mortgage Elimination Schemes, published in Mortgage Banking Magazine, that provides more explanation.  The Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League also have resources on Sovereign Citizen ideology.

I am always interested in news on Sovereign Citizen activity and prosecutions – even when not related to mortgage.  Some of the conduct they engage in can be incredibly harassing to the people they target – be it a private citizen or a government figure.  The everyday engagements that give rise to retaliation can be very minor in the eyes of the non-Sovereign Citizen and yet the backlash can be astounding – the worst, of course, being examples of public safety officers gunned down during traffic stops.  But, ordinary, every day social or business interactions can also result in economic threats or the filing and recording of legal documents that can be difficult to appropriately address. Continue Reading…