Lisa Depa, 24, Middletown, Connecticut, pleaded guilty before Chief United States District Judge Alvin W. Thompson in Hartford, Connecticut, to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud stemming from her participation in a mortgage fraud conspiracy.
According to court documents and statements made in court, Depa and others engaged in a scheme to obtain residential real estate loans, including loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration (“FHA”), through the use of sham sales contracts, false loan applications and fraudulent property appraisals. As part of the scheme, Depa acted as a straw buyer who allowed her name and identifying information to be used to obtain mortgage loans to purchase properties at fraudulently inflated prices.
In July 2008, Depa purchased two houses, one located at 39 Lilac Street, New Haven, Connecticut, and the other located at 433 Shelton Avenue, New Haven, Connecticut. Working with her co-conspirators, Depa obtained a loan to buy the 39 Lilac Street house at a fraudulently inflated price of $183,000, and an FHA-insured loan to buy the 433 Shelton Street house at a fraudulently inflated price of $249,000.
As part of the scheme to deceive lenders, Depa, at the direction of others, registered a fake company called “Depa Alterations and Fashion Design LLC” with the Connecticut Secretary of the State. Depa also was instructed to, and did, have herself added to a bank account held in the name of a co-conspirator.
After the closings for the properties for which she acted as a straw buyer, Depa met a co-conspirator in a bank parking lot and received $40,000 in cash in a bag. Depa never occupied either of the two houses on which she served as a buyer, and she defaulted on both of the loans. As a result, the lenders suffered losses of more than $120,000.
Judge Thompson has scheduled sentencing for May 6, 2011, at which time Depa faces a maximum term of imprisonment of five years and a fine of up to $250,000. The investigation is ongoing.
David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced the guilty plea.
This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of Inspector General, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Eric J. Glover and Susan Wines.
In July 2009, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced the formation of the Connecticut Mortgage Fraud Task Force to investigate and prosecute mortgage fraud cases and related financial crimes occurring in Connecticut. In addition to investigating past mortgage fraud schemes, the Task Force will focus on emerging crime trends that are associated with the growing tide of foreclosures, including foreclosure rescue schemes, and short sale schemes. Citizens are encouraged to report any suspected mortgage fraud activity by calling 203-333-3512 and requesting the Connecticut Mortgage Fraud Task Force, or by sending an email to email@example.com.
The Connecticut Mortgage Fraud Task Force includes representatives from the U.S. Attorney’s Office; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation; U.S. Postal Inspection Service; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General; Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Office of Inspector General, and State of Connecticut Department of Banking.
To report financial fraud crimes, and to learn more about the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, please visit www.stopfraud.gov.