Archives For Florida

Randy Platfoot, 54, Clearwater, Florida, pleaded guilty to making false statements in mortgage loan applications.

According to court documents, between September 2005 and April 2007, Platfoot applied for two separate mortgage loans from Washington Mutual Bank, in connection with the purchase of properties in Myakka City, Florida, and Sarasota, Florida. In the loan documents that Platfoot signed and submitted to the bank, he made false statements about his income and about the lack of subordinate financing in connection with one of the properties. Washington Mutual Bank suffered financial losses after Platfoot defaulted on both loans.

Platfood faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison. His sentencing is scheduled for December 18, 2015.

The announcement was made by United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III.  The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation-Office of Inspector General. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jay L. Hoffer.

Hector Hernandez, 57, Miami, Florida, the owner and operator of Great Country Mortgage Bankers (Great Country), a mortgage lender in Miami, Florida, was sentenced to serve 135 months in prison  for conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting a financial institution for orchestrating a $64 million mortgage fraud scheme.  He was also ordered to pay $64,508,141 in restitution and to forfeit $8,000,000 in illicit profits.

In the same case, a real estate developer for Great Country, Aleida Fontao, 62, Miami, Florida, was sentenced to serve 41 months in prison, and ordered to pay $7,131,952 in restitution and $400,000 in forfeiture.  An underwriter for Great Country, Olga Hernandez, 59, Lake Mary, Florida, was sentenced to serve 51 months in prison and ordered to pay $24,512,755 in restitution.  Hector and Olga Hernandez both pleaded guilty on July 13, 2015, while Fontao pleaded guilty on July 7, 2015.  Hector Hernandez was the last defendant to be sentenced in the case.  All 24 defendants charged in this case, which included loan officers, loan processors and underwriters, were convicted of participating in the scheme. Continue Reading…

Matthew Greer, 37, former CEO of Carlisle Development Group, Miami Beach, pled guilty  before United States District Court Judge Ursula Ungaro to two counts of conspiracy to commit theft of government money, in connection with a scheme to steal government funds intended for the construction of low-income housing. Greer participated in a $30 million fraud scheme involving ten low-income housing developments

According to court documents, including the factual proffer in support of the defendant’s plea, Matthew Greer and Lloyd Boggio served, at alternating times, as CEO of Carlisle Development Group (CDG), a low-income housing developer in Miami, Florida. CDG applied for federal tax credits and federal grant monies to build low-income housing developments through a program administered by the Florida Housing Finance Corporation (FHFC). To obtain these federal funds, FHFC required developers to submit proposed development costs, including a construction contract signed by the developer and contractor. Continue Reading…

David W. Griffin, 44, Lutz, Florida, pleaded guilty to one count of bankruptcy fraud and one count of making a false statement under oath during a bankruptcy proceeding in connection with a foreclosure rescue scheme.  Griffin faces a maximum penalty of 5 years in federal prison for each charge. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

According to court documents, Griffin operated a foreclosure rescue scheme through his companies, Bay2Bay Area Holding, LLC and Business Development Consultants, LLC.  The purpose of the scheme was to obtain quitclaim or warranty deeds from distressed homeowners facing foreclosure in return for false promises to rescue their homes from foreclosure by negotiating with creditors, renting the property back to the homeowner to obtain rental income, and falsely promising that the homeowner could repurchase the property from Griffin.  To maximize his rental income, Griffin also prevented creditors and guarantors, including the Federal National Mortgage Association (“Fannie Mae”) and the Federal Housing Administration, from pursuing lawful foreclosure and eviction actions against homeowners who had defaulted on their mortgages. This was accomplished by filing, or causing to be filed, fraudulent bankruptcies in the names of the homeowners without their knowledge or consent. Continue Reading…

Ann Elizabeth Ursiny, a/k/a Ann Stone, 51, Florida, pleaded guilty to 19 counts of mail fraud and 17 counts of wire fraud all in connection with a fraudulent advance fee scheme involving approximately 100 victims throughout the United States, including many in Massachusetts in which individuals were induced to pay up-front fees to Ursiny and her entity Trace Financial Group, Inc.  based on representations that those individuals would receive real estate loans, when in fact Ursiny never intended to make any such loans. Ursiny was indicted in May 2014. U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Stearns scheduled sentencing for December 9, 2015. Ursiny’s codefendant, Robert O’Connor, pleaded guilty in June 2015 to participating in the same scheme by recruiting victims to apply for loans and pay the advance fees. O’Connor is scheduled to be sentenced on March 23, 2016. Continue Reading…

Lawrence Foster, 50, Miami Beach, Florida, was sentenced to 152 months’ imprisonment for conspiring to commit wire fraud and committing substantive counts of wire fraud, and was ordered to pay over $8 million in restitution.  The Court also ordered the forfeiture of over $1 million that was seized by federal law enforcement.

Foster was convicted of all counts after a jury trial for his role in defrauding over 100 investors of over $8 million dollars.  Foster fraudulently promised investors that his company, Paradise is Mine, was developing land in the Bahamas. Continue Reading…

When I spoke at the American Association of Mortgage Regulators Conference (AARMR) last week in New Orleans, I commented on the fact that, due to heightened underwriting requirements in mortgage lending, origination frauds are more distant from the file.  What does this mean?  It means that the fraud itself is occurring through third party manipulation that is virtually impossible to discover by a simple review of the mortgage documents. One of the methods I used as an example is credit manipulation. A recent guilty plea out of Miami-Dade illustrates this trend.  In this case, a Miami-Dade police officer accepted money to create false police reports reflecting that credit repair customers had reported that they were the victims of identity theft.  In such cases, negative credit reporting is blocked.  Paying $1,500 for credit repair is generally worthless.  But, couple that with a  police officer in your back pocket?  Priceless.

George Price, 42, a Miami-Dade Police Officer, Miami-Dade, Florida, pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1349, an offense punishable by up to twenty years in prison. Continue Reading…

Gary Blankenship, 44, St. Petersburg, Massachusetts was indicted in the Middle District of Florida and charged with conspiracy, wire fraud, and bank fraud. The indictment alleges a zero down mortgage fraud for condominiums involving buyer kickbacks and incentives.

According to the indictment and court proceedings, in 2005, entities controlled by co-conspirators entered into a contract to purchase The Arbors, an apartment complex in Hillsborough County, Florida. The new owners then engaged in a plan to convert the complex from rental apartment units to condominium units.

Blankenship’s co-conspirator, Brenden Bolger, aided the developers in the sale of numerous condominium units through his company, Capital Management Guarantee, LLC. In order to induce buyers to purchase The Arbors units, Bolger created an addendum to the purchase contract offering buyers various incentives such as rental supplements, money to defray maintenance costs, and a design credit to upgrade the units’ amenities. When the buyers cancelled the design credit within 10 days of signing the addendum, Bolger paid them a kickback from his company’s bank account for the amount of the design credit. Blankenship’s role in the conspiracy as a real estate agent consisted of marketing The Arbors units by promising buyers that they would not be required to provide any money at closing, actually providing cash for borrowers to close on the units, facilitating the payment of kickbacks to his clients via Capital Management Guarantee, and facilitating the submission of false loan applications to FDIC-insured financial institutions, or their subsidiaries. In this manner, Bolger, Blankenship, and other co-conspirators failed to disclose material facts to the buyers’ mortgage lenders about the financing of the condominium sales.

He faces a maximum penalty of 30 years’ imprisonment for each charge.

Bolger previously pleaded guilty his role in the conspiracy. His sentencing is scheduled for September 18, 2015. 

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General. It is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor and Assistant United States Attorney Jay Hoffer.


Ricardo Martinez, Coral Gables, Florida was arrested and charged with multiple felony counts which included a scheme to defraud, mortgage fraud, and unlawful promises to provide insider-information.  He is accused of kickback extortion.

Martinez was employed in South Florida as an asset manager for a large financial holdings corporation. Investigators from the FBI and Okaloosa County Sherriff’s Office learned that Martinez tried to extort a local business person to send money in the form of “kickbacks” to Martinez personally from the sale of the corporation’s real estate properties in Okaloosa County, Florida.

During an undercover “sting” operation, Investigators sent funds requested by Martinez to his private address in South Florida.  Martinez accepted the funds personally and he made efforts to conceal the money from all official real estate closing documents. Further, Martinez promised to provide other financial benefits to a local individual in exchange for the same “kick-back” agreement in the future.

The joint effort was successful due to ongoing partnerships between local and Federal authorities targeting fraudulent acts affecting the citizens of Okaloosa County.

Brenda Ann Blair, 37, loan officer, Bonita Springs, Florida, formerly of Goochland County, Virginia, was sentenced to 27 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release for participating in a fraud scheme that obtained approximately $2.4 million worth of mortgage backed loans from federally backed financial institutions. Continue Reading…